Making Your Intranet Multilingual

There are a lot of ways and different components needed to make your intranet multilingual.  In our experience, the two most common situations that we’ve encountered the need for multilingual intranets is for global business and, likely due to proximity, Canadian businesses as they are bi-lingual by statute.  

MLP – Multilingual Publishing 

List of what multilingual publishing is and is not.

Multilingual publishing is focused on communication sites, it does not exist for Teams sites. An integral piece to have successful multilingual publishing is assigning flows for the translator role. You should have an individual assigned as the translator for your content. When a new piece of content is posted, that individual will be alerted that they need to do the translation. Once they’ve completed it, the owner will get a notification back that it’s ready to be published.  However, please keep in mind how you deploy and release news. If you want everyone in your company to get the news at the same time across multiple translations, you’ll need to draft the content, get all the translations, and then deploy simultaneously.  If you deploy the original content first, the translations won’t be available until they have been completed, therefore slowing down the release of the content to certain individuals.  

The Maturity Model  

Level 100 through Level 500 of the Maturity Model for M365 for multilingual.

To look at multilingual capabilities, we suggest using the Maturity Model. There is a very complicated cascading set of “ifs” that will affect what language SharePoint shows you. This is touched on in level 100 of the Maturity Model. The “ifs” are dependent on first, the user’s settings in their profile and what languages they’ve specified. Second, the browser profile. For example, Chrome, Edge, etc. all have their own language preferences and third, the site collection itself has a default language. The default language was picked at the creation of the site and cannot be changed. Therefore, be mindful of the default language you choose as you will always have to publish in that language first.  

Potential Pitfalls 

There are a couple potential pitfalls that you should keep in mind when deploying a multilingual intranet.  

  • The need for translation: You need to determine if your translator is a dedicated professional, someone who is just going to translate when they have the availability to do so, or is a machine-learning translation good enough. Ideally, you’ll want someone to be trained in the translation process as early as possible. We also suggest always having a native speaker review the translation before the content is published.  For example, if you hire a professional translation company to translate something from English to French, their translation may work for those in France, however in Quebec, it may not be accurate.  
  • Imagery and cross-cultural sensitivities: photos, imagery, and infographics are not one size fits all. Not only do you have to ensure that the text is correct, you also need to ensure that the imagery is culturally appropriate and accurately aligns with the content. Again, this is another instance where having a native speaker cross reference your content is beneficial.  
  • Automation: You’ll need to test the automation if you’re using lists or library names in PowerShell as some labels translate but some do not. 
  • Developers: You need to specify your default language when you create it.  The SPFx web parts follow the user profile language not the browser or web page by default.  

Needless to say, there are many ways to go about creating a multilingual intranet. For additional information, we will be diving deeper into this subject at CollabDays New England on October 22nd in Burlington, Massachusetts. Registration is still open. Sign up today and join us!

All Resources


Do you have any questions for us? Continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSympraxis and mention @SympraxisC.