hands typing on keyboard

Keyboard Hacks for Translators

As a translator, you spend a lot of your time in front of the monitor typing on your keyboard. Whether you translate documents, localize e-learning materials or proofread a book, it is important to have a keyboard that makes typing easier and facilitates translation. In order to do your job quicker and smoother, we suggest learning a few keyboard hacks. We are going to review what type of keyboard you need and present a few useful keyboard shortcuts that can facilitate your work. There are also a few apps that make typing and translation faster. Have a look at the tips below and choose those that will make your life as a translator easier.


How to choose the best keyboard

Every translator needs a solid keyboard that is easy to use and that will last several years. There are many types of keyboards and every person has their personal preferences. As a professional who spends their time typing, you need something that you can rely on. Here are the features that you need to keep in mind when choosing your next keyboard: 


There are several types of keyboards – laptop, basic external, ergonomic, mechanical, and touchscreen. Each has its pros and cons and basically, it depends on your preferences and where you need to use it. Quite often, a translator uses more than one keyboard depending on where they need to translate – at the comfort of their home or while on the go. Recently, the mechanical keyboard has gained more popularity, because of its excellent features like durability and easy typing. 


Quite often the cost plays a role in choosing any software or hardware addition, but in this case, you get what you pay for. As professionals, we are aware that the higher cost usually means better quality and when it is calculated per year, turns out to be an insignificant factor. In this case, the mechanical keyboard is a bit more expensive but the investment is worthwhile.  


The layout of the keyboard is very important since it determines its convenience. Depending on the language you use for your translation, you may need a Spanish layout for example. Choose a layout that you are familiar with because otherwise you will confuse curly brackets, asterisks, or other rarely used symbols and it will take more time to locate them rather than to translate.  


While noise is not such a huge factor, it is still important since a noisy keyboard may lead to loss of concentration. On the other hand, some find the sound relaxing and it keeps them following a certain pace of work. You need to consider for yourself how important noise is and if it should play a key role in selecting a keyboard. Be warned that the mechanical keyboards are a bit noisier compared to membrane ones.   


Since the keyboard is at your fingertips all day, you need one that is reliable. The mechanical keyboard is considered to have a much longer lifespan than a membrane one but may have some initial teething problems as well. 

These are the elements that you need to consider when choosing your next keyboard. Make sure that it fits you since it is an essential part of your work routine.  


Useful keyboard shortcuts 

Once you have bought the right keyboard, it is time to learn a few hacks that can make your translation go smoother and faster. There are certain key combinations that can save us a lot of time. Below are some of the most useful ones – both general and for specific software products. 

Desktop management and formatting – these are pretty well-known but still worth mentioning since they concern actions that we use quite often. 

  • Ctrl + Shift + N – create a new folder 
  • F2 – rename a folder 
  • Ctrl + D – bookmark webpage  
  • Ctrl + B – bold 
  • Ctrl + I – italic 
  • Ctrl + U – underline  
  • Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow – extend selection to end of the word  
  • Ctrl + F – find and replace  

 For SDL Trados Studio 

  • Alt + insert – copy source to target 
  • Ctrl + F – find and replace 

 For MemoQ 

  • Ctrl + T – split segment 
  • Ctrl + J – join segment  
  • Ctrl + K – concordance search 

 For Translation.io 

  • Ctrl + Upper Arrow or Ctrl + Backspace – go to the previous segment 
  • Ctrl + Down Arrow or Ctrl + Enter – go to the next segment 
  • Ctrl + T – copy source text to translated text 
  • Tab – insert next interpolated variable 
  • Ctrl + 1 to Ctrl + 9 – insert corresponding translation memory entry 


Type faster with the swift keyboard app 

In addition to the shortcuts, there are several apps that any translator and interpreter should have since they facilitate their job. Swift Keyboard is a good one as it really makes typing much faster. It is extremely useful especially if you are on the go and don’t have your favorite keyboard handy but have to make do with touchscreen typing. At this moment Swift Keyboard can facilitate the process since it suggests whole words as you type. You see the suggestion and you can have the word inserted by simply tapping on it. The writing interface of the app is nice and personalized and offers accurate autocorrect. What is even better is that it supports 61 languages. So, if you have to work while on the go, give Swift Keyboard a try instead of using your default phone touchscreen keyboard.  

As you can see, simply replacing your current keyboard with the right one may be a solution to some of your problems while translating. In addition to that, if you turn using keyboard shortcuts into a habit, you can save a lot of time while typing and be more productive. The work of the translator is often quite challenging, so any hacks that can make it easier are usually welcome. Hopefully, some of the tips above will make your day go smoother and quicker.  


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