Translation of Engineering Drawings

The right tool for each job

There are several options for translating technical drawings depending on the form of the source document and the required format of the translation.

The methods described here have been established and refined over the years and can be adapted to your specific needs.

Memtrans offers the following methods

  • Direct translation of files
  • Mark up of files
  • Re-creation of drawings
  • OCR – Optical Character Recognition
  • Combination of methods

In certain cases a combination of some of the methods described can be applied. For example, OCR for title blocks and mark-up of other areas or re-creation of selected regions of a drawing and mark-up of the rest.

Other languages?

Does your translation project involve the translation of technical drawings in other languages than English/German?

Memtrans can still help you by processing drawings and bringing them into a format that other translators can use. Memtrans’ professional network includes translators of many languages.

Direct translation of files

This is the most elegant of all methods. Drawing files that exist in .dwg or compatible formats can be directly processed in CAT (computer aided translation) software. While all graphic elements of the drawing remain unchanged, text is translated with all benefits of CAT software such as auto-propagation of reoccurring text, spell check, etc. Numbers are reformatted if required (e.g. from 123.456,78 (German) to 123,456.78 (English)). After the translation is complete, the file is re-exported as .dwg, .dwf or .dxf file. The final step in this method is checking the translated drawing in AutoCAD to see if all graphic and text elements are intact and minor manual re-arrangement of text elements if required.

Typical Workflow

flowchart direct translation

Pros and Cons

  • Fast
  • Accurate
  • Auto-propagation, spell check, etc.
  • Requires .dwg, .dwf or .dxf, etc. files

Example 1

Example 2

Mark up of files

This method is used where drawings exist as .pdf or graphic files. Using a pdf or graphics editor, text elements are overwritten with translated text elements. It is a useful method where the project consists of a limited number of pages or where only parts of drawings require translation.

Typical Workflow

flowchart mark-up

Pros and Cons

  • No .dwg-, .dwf-, .dxf-, etc. files required
  • Faster than re-creation of drawings
  • Manual manipulation and slow
  • No auto-propagation, spell check, etc.


Source English
Target German
Re-creation of drawings

In cases where the source document is of poor quality, professional drafting software is used to recreate the drawing entirely or in part. The process is time consuming but superior results are usually achieved.

Typical Workflow

flowchart recreation

Pros and Cons

  • Superior results
  • Time consuming
  • No auto-propagation, spell check, etc.


OCR Optical Character Recognition

OCR software can be useful in the translation of technical drawings that contain regions of text or tables such as title blocks. The result of the OCR process is an MS-Word file that contains editable text and one or several pictures. The text can be then be translated using CAT tools while pictures remain untouched.

Typical Workflow

flowchart OCR

Pros and Cons

  • Editable Text can – once extracted – be translated using CAT tools
  • Suitable for selected regions of drawings only


Fuel tank assembly
Source Englisch
Baugruppe Kraftstofftank
Target German