A Guide to or How to Translate a WordPress Theme

Enabling clients to operate their sites in native languages is an essential aspect of accessibility. It can become significant to translate a WordPress theme if you are developing a site that has users from multiple countries aware of different languages.

We’re not talking about localizing a theme by translating the content on the front-end like posts, pages, etc instead it refers to the theme-related content in the WordPress Admin area such as the theme options, descriptions and of course, the customizer.

The WordPress developers put tremendous efforts and importance on the translation of WordPress Hub. It’s already translated into various foreign languages, which makes it an entirely global content management system. Localising a theme can be significantly beneficial for clients who use the admin area in their regional language, or else a vital part of their admin settings will be displayed in English, while the other parts of the dashboard in their mother tongue.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to locate and translate a translation ready WordPress theme.


Locating a Translation Ready WordPress Theme
WordPress has huge support to develop websites in multiple languages, theme creators may not find it significant to design translation ready themes. If you are looking to setup wordpress website in any other language than English, you need to ensure that the theme you are downloading or buying, is a translation-ready theme.

You’ll find a lot of options if you go to the WordPress theme directory’s tag filter interface, which are the tags theme that developers have added to their themes. When you select the option of “Extended WordPress Options”, tick-mark the box next to translation ready option.

If you want to translate a WordPress theme into languages like Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian, check “rtl-language-support” option available under the same “Extended WordPress Options”. Click on the Find Themes button to see the results that match your query. You can further funnel down your search by tick-marking other options in the tag filter.

How to Translate a WordPress Theme

If a developer has already added translation features to a theme, it will get listed under “translation-ready” category, which means you can use that theme to create a multi-language website. Every such theme includes a file with the .POT extension or in some cases, there might be a .po or .mo file that allows you to translate the theme easily.

What are .po, pot and .mo files?
WordPress uses a system known as “gettext” for localisation, translations and internationalisation. In “gettext”, the developers use “gettext calls” for each translatable area of the development, which later gets collected in a .POT file. It means that a .POT file is nothing but a template of translatable sequences in a program.

Later, translators use .POT file to generate a .PO file for the required language. The file name refers to the language. For ex, a Spanish translation file would have a name as sp_SP.po. It’s the file that you’ll translate.

The .mo file is the machine readable format of a .po file, which automatically gets generated from the .po file. This is important in how to translate a WordPress theme

What’s Poedit?
First of all, you need to download and set up Poedit on your desktop as it is a standalone program running. Various translation editor software are also available, but Poedit is well known and recognised across the globe. Irrespective of what software you choose, be sure to use a gettext editor.

Translating using Poedit
You can easily edit .po and .pot files in any of the text editors available on the market. Various Linux based distributions are pre-installed with command line tools to generate .mo files. Since you are a beginner with localisation, using a gettext editor would be much more beneficial to you.

We are using Poedit in this post to translate a theme, which is a gettext editor available for Mac, Windows and Linux. Poedit is extremely easy to use and assist you to convert your theme without sabotaging translation files quickly. The relevant field to look out in here is “language”. You can follow these steps:

  • First of all, download and install Poedit. (For people whose themes have .POT file: they can go to File and choose New catalogue and select the .Pot file.)
  • The moment you open the .POT file, Poedit will show you a dialogue box. It’ll ask you information about the project.


Poedit will ask you for “saving preferences” of the translation file at the moment when you start filling in the Catalogue Properties Box. You can write the preferred name followed by a .po extension, which is the default. The file’s name is important. You can save it in two letter language_country code.

For ex: for Spanish, you can save the translation as sp_SP.po and English translation for the USA will be saved as en_US. You can find a country and language in the search box available in the catalogue box.

Once you have saved the file in the mentioned format, you are ready to translate your WordPress theme.

Poedit is an incredibly easy interface for beginners. It lists all translatable strings, and you can click on any of it to translate. It showcases three boxes. One for the original string, another one for translation and the last one for the guidelines for translators.

As soon as you start translating the string, Poedit will automatically move to the next string. The moment you save your file, it’ll by default compile a .mo version of the archive in the corresponding directory.

After entirely translating your WP theme, use FTP to upload the theme to your WordPress website, and go to admin area to activate the theme.

Not important but highly encouraged step: Setting WordPress to Use Translated Theme!
Do you know if you are using WordPress in default English, you can still force it to use translated files for the theme? Yes, it’s possibly by simply adding the following code to your wp-config.php file:

  • // Replace sp_SP with the preferred language and country code.
  • define (‘WPLANG’, ‘SP_SP’);


Wrapping it up
WordPress becomes cooler when we know that lets you clients change the language of the admin area. Just go to the Settings > General dashboard menu, and it will automatically pick the right translation files for the theme.

We hope this post has helped you translating WordPress theme into your native language. If you are a beginner looking to contribute back to the community, the translation is one of the best ways. Various developers appreciate user involvement and who knows you might be the next one to get extra support, PRO add-ons, etc!

Author Bio:
Catherrine Garcia is a passionate blogger and a freelance Web Developer. She along with her group of freelance developers, are experts of creating Websites on CMS.

If you are looking to brand yourself and trying to streamline your marketing in the process, you may want to consider working with a WordPress platform. The fact is that it is easy to translate a WordPress theme and all it takes is a few minutes at most.

You can always check out our translate ready WordPress themes but the great thing about WordPress is its flexibility and the fact that it is now possible to get the theme translated so that you can now tweak your website and market your products and services to key demographics.

Various studies have shown that websites in native languages have a better reach than sites that display the information in English for the simple reason that not everyone understands or even speaks English.

And if your main target group happens to be the locals, then it makes sense to streamline the theme on your website along with the content so as to make a larger impact, This should lead to better customer engagement and should also ramp up the numbers, as far as your website is concerned.

Naturally, for better reach and better marketing results, you would need to look up the process on “how to translate a WordPress theme”. And just follow the steps listed or just read on for the same and you should be set. With localized content geared to appeal better to the local audience, and in the native language that they understand – you should net better results.

It all comes down to whether you are willing to go the extra mile by providing your audience with localized content in a language they understand. The good news is that we offer a variety of free and premium themes that are ‘translate ready’, so feel free to check them out.

And with WordPress, the process is more or less automated and you would not be require to do any coding but all you have to do is to follow the steps listed below and soon, your website should feature your content in your preferred language.

All you have to do is to head online and search through the various WordPress themes and if it is listed u under “translation ready”, then all you need to do is to install the theme on your website and in a matter of moments; you should have a translation ready site.

But in case the theme you’d picked out is just plain and not “translation ready”, then all you need to do is to open up the zip fiolder of the theme in question and access the POT file. The POT file converts the content to PO file and you also need to download and install poedit, as this should help you edit the PO file generated.

With Poedit, you should be able to translate your WordPress theme with ease and set your site up in your preferred native language. And this in turn should lead to increased customer engagement and better reach than before.

About Sonnal S Sinha

Sonnal S SinhaSonnal S Sinha shares exciting WordPress themes, plugins and other WordPress related news for our viewers. He also posts selected WordPress developers interviews from time to time.