Translation Tips: Five Google Tricks to Hack Scientific/Technical Translations



This is an ongoing series on empowering the translation experience with Google.

You’re reading Part 1: Five Google Tricks to Hack Scientific/Technical Translations

Click here for Part 2: Hacking the Target Term By Terminology Funnelling

Click here for Part 3: Hacking Transcreation by Scaffolding

Click here for Part 4: Wikipedia and Google Results Counter


Hi, it’s Anthony again.

With so many things to do for our September 1st launch, it’s hard to keep up with quality translation education. But I am committed to posting twice weekly, usually on Mondays, and Wednesday/Thursdays. I also do a round-up of links I liked over the week that could be of further use to your business. Let me know whenever you find an interesting link as well.

Since no one has talked in-depth about Google Advanced Operators in the translation industry, I’d like to share some nifty tricks I’ve picked up. I touched a little on this subject very briefly in using Google Results counter (here).


Five Google Tricks to Hack Scientific/Technical Translations

1. Filetype:

Literature research is the most important aspect of being a researcher. Most know to go to,,, or such to search the database. However, you can do the same (and I think much easier) with Google.

Sometimes retrieving the file is as easy as typing the title of the article into Google.

Other times you can refine your results by typing

Filetype: (eg., PDF, xlsx, ppt, doc, php, asp, etc.). 

For example, if I search ”Anti-angiogenic and anti-tumor properties of proteasome inhibitors.” I see three similar results in the first page of my search that are in PDF format. But If I want to search PDF files exclusively, I just type:

 Anti-angiogenic and anti-tumor properties of proteasome inhibitors, filetype:pdf

Filetype Operator

 This yields PDFs only, and I can quickly read through the research individually.

2. Inurl:, and Site:

The inurl operator is especially helpful if you know that what you seek is in a specific website. For example, if you’re looking up “Adverse Drug Reaction(ADR)” and you want to search exclusively in the WHO website, you can query:


Both Inurl: and Site: work well, but I prefer the former, since the “Site:” operator requires an additional argument. For example: ethics

site operator

3. Cache: 

Cache is a useful operator to search sites that are no longer operational, but for which Google has cached. The idea is like the, to look at previous versions of the website. Sometimes, websites that contain the information you are looking for  (e.g., an article, a keyword) are offline. In such a case, query: 


Alternatively, you can click the small arrow next to the search result below:

Cached websites

4. Cache+Translate:

You’ve learnt about the Cache operator, now it’s time to learn about using Google Translate for URLs. Google Translate is an option if you see a result that is not in your default language for Google. See below:

Google Translate + Cache

In such a case, you can click Translate This Page. This function also works for sites that are no longer operational, since Google Translate works with cached files.

5. Google Advanced Search UI

Lastly, if you find all these commands and arguments mumbo jumbo, you can just use their very nicely designed UI by following this (I don’t know why they hide it so):

Advanced Search UI 

As a translator, you have the added benefit of locating what you want by specifying what language you want to search the query in (you can read more than one language!). Sometimes, specific terms only appear in the source language and don’t appear when you’re googling in the target language. Narrow your findings to specific language pairs, specific dates (most recent, within the past week, etc.).

Narrow Language

At TransBunko, we also use similar Google Translate operators + arguments as part of our security testing. We have also developed robots to crawl the web to detect and recognize specific patterns, such as copyright infringement or plagiarism.

If you’re a developer, and want to automate or scrape Google results, try:



That’s it!



Per a fellow colleague’s request, I wanted to give an example of some of these tricks in action:

Suppose I want to translate the term: “cicatricial pemphigoid” a rare chronic autoimmune disease characterized by skin erosions and scarring. I can do the following things:

Go into the advanced search UI:

Narrow Language

and search exclusively on websites in the target language:

Chinese Results


You see, this was very quick, and the correct term is “瘢痕性類天疱瘡”. This works especially well if Google translate doesn’t yield proper terminology. Naturally, you need to read through some of the results to make sure that the term you are using is correct.

Let’s try something harder:

Query: Perifolliculitis capitis abscedens et suffodiens (dissecting cellulitis of the scalp), and I need to have this translated into Chinese.

Google translate yielded an irrelevant result:

Google Irrelevance

Once we run through the same process of searching exclusively in the target language, we get this:

Chinese Results


Now it’s time to make sure that the target term is correct. Google: “穿凿脓肿性头部毛囊炎及毛囊周围炎”

And the results yielded:

Google Results


We see Baidu (wikipedia equivalent) as having the right answer. Is it right? To make sure, let’s search, it’s a repository of scholarly articles:

Wanfang Data Results


And here we see that it can be also phrased as “头皮脓肿穿凿性毛囊炎”. Now you have both the Encyclopedia translation and the convention used in scientific literature. That’s pretty good from starting with nothing, eh?

Thanks again for the great question. Let me know if you guys need anything else!


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