How to contribute in translation

Community based, user oriented

The translations of the various documents focusing on Inkscape rely on the work of volunteers. Motivation for this work can range from the simple pleasure to contribute to taking the opportunity of learning a lot about Inkscape and translation processes. It is very important not to forget that Inkscape is an open source, community based and user oriented project, which implies that software developers/contributors are generally users. It also implies that the translation efforts are user oriented, with a strong focus on interface, user documentation and website.

Guidelines/workflow to translate the software

Subscribe to Inkscape translator mailing list. By subscribing on Inkscape's translator list you will be able to ask for help on some questions more related to Inkscape issues to other Inkscape translators, as well as the maintainers.

Get files for your language. If you only want to translate the interface messages, you can get the files from Inkscape's git repository web interface. Besides getting files from web interface, you can obtain the full repository (see Inkscape's Repositories page). See section Translatable content for which files you have to modify to translate each part of Inkscape.

Submit finished work the bug tracker. Finished translations must be sent to the bug tracker and/or mailing list in order to be integrated into the trunk. You will need a Launchpad account to commit patches to Inkscape's bug tracker. Before sending a file, remember to check that the file(s) you are submitting doesn't have syntax errors that would break the building process. Send a mail on the translator mailing list. Your contribution will be reviewed/committed as soon as possible.

Best practices

  • Best case for a good translation: translate from English to your mother tongue.
  • Test the behavior of the interface before starting translation.
  • Several small updates are more efficient than only a big one.
  • If you're new to Inkscape, or to vector software, taking a look at Inkscape Terminology page can be a good idea. It is a work in progress, but can give some clues on basic vocabulary of Inkscape.
  • Some good explanations of the behavior of Inkscape, also using some reference terminology can be found in the books and manuals.
  • Always keep in mind consistency of terminology; a simple, precise & explicit vocabulary/style will result in an efficient and thus good translation.
  • Don't hesitate to ask others (developers/translators/users) if you don't understand a word/sentence or if you think an original string is not good (too complex, not precise enough, etc.).

Polishing Translations — Microtypography

Here are some things to note in order to achieve good microtypography (typography at the word or character level):

  • use the proper quotes (e.g. »foo« or «foo» or “foo”, depending on your local rules);
  • use the proper kind of dashes (with the proper amount of whitespace around them) — EM DASH (U+2014): "—", EN DASH (U+2013): "–", MINUS (U+2212): "−", HYPHEN: "-";
  • use non-breakable space where appropriate (e.g. before units; some countries use a halfspace here) — NO-BREAK SPACE (U+00A0): " ";
  • use halfspace where appropriate (example: "z. B.") — NARROW NO-BREAK SPACE U+202F: " ";
  • use "24×24", not "24x24";
  • use "90°", not "90 degrees" where appropriate;
  • use the proper Unicode codepoint for "..." — "…". In German at least, a space comes before this ellipsis;
  • see for information on the use of SI units in Unicode;
  • write numbers correctly — either with a decimal comma or a decimal point (see;
  • see


  • (German)
  • Marion Neubauer: Feinheiten bei wissenschaftlichen Publikationen — Mikrotypographie-Regeln, Teil I (PDF, German)
  • Marion Neubauer: Feinheiten bei wissenschaftlichen Publikationen — Mikrotypographie-Regeln, Teil II (PDF, German)
  • Christoph Bier: typokurz — Einige wichtige typografische Regeln (PDF, German)
  • (in English, for French)

Translatable content

Inkscape's translation effort covers many areas, from application UI itself to web pages and tutorials. This is a summary of all those areas, sorted by priority.

These tasks, rather than being for hackers only, can be achieved by most software enthusiasts, whether they have a technological background or were just plain users. The main requirement is the wish to provide support for Inkscape on your language: the technology required for you to do that has been developed in a simple approach, and it involves mainly text files and applications used to verify its syntax. Supporting applications were existing to make these tasks much easier.

Current Translation Status

Here you can see where your help is needed most:

User interface

PO files contain the strings for the Inkscape user interface (main software and extentions). A PO file is a text file which contains the original English message and its translation. That's why it is obviously the translation to start with.

See Interface translation page for detailed information on the PO files.


As you know, Inkscape comes with some very nice SVG tutorials. By translating them, users will learn how to use the application, as well its tips and tricks. It is even a good opportunity for you to become more acquainted with Inkscape.

See Documentation Translation page for detailed information on tutorial translation.

Keyboard and mouse shortcuts

Inkscape is proud for having keyboard and mouse shortcuts for almost all of its functionality. Those shortcuts can help you increase your drawing productivity/efficiency. The map of the default shortcuts is embedded in the interface (help menu) next to the tutorials, and can also be accessed from the web site.

Windows installer

High value for users, even if the installation process of Inkscape is quite simple, translating the Windows installer helps potential users a lot to get a good feeling when they use Inkscape.

See Interface translation page for detailed information for Windows installer translation.


The default template of the Inkscape document can be localized to make the localization consistent. Localized can be the (size?) of the default document and also the name of the default layer.

See Interface translation page for detailed information on default document's template.

Man pages

The man pages consist of a standard user documentation, available from the command line. On Unix-based systems simply type man inkscape from the prompt of a command window.

Some distributions also generate a browsable (html) man page, accessible from a dedicated help shortcut.

The man page of Inkscape provides some insightful information about the software, especially focused on operations that do not require GUI (example: export to png from the command line, or extract one object from a svg file).

See Documentation Translation page for detailed information for man page translation.

Release notes

Translating release notes helps ‘normal user’ to get a lot of insight into the capabilities of Inkscape:

  • gives a general overview of the possibilities of the software to potential users;
  • can be used for local marketing (local Free Software/Linux/Graphics oriented web sites, articles in fanzines, e-magazines and even magazines…).

Contact the translators' mailing list for detailed information on translating release notes.

Web pages and News

To know how to contribute in translating or posting news and articles on the website, see our dedicated page.