This is a guide for WordPress developers who are building multilingual sites. It explains how to use WPML to translate the site as you are building it.

Installing and configuring WPML

WPML includes a core plugin and several add-on modules. We recommend Multilingual CMS customers start by installing WPML Multilingual CMS, WPML String Translation, and WPML Translation Management, available from your account downloads page.

Please read the installation instructions if you need help.

When you first activate WPML a setup wizard will help you specify the essential settings required to prepare your site for multilingual content.

Follow the Wizard to:

  1. set the default language
  2. add additional languages
  3. specify where to display language switchers
  4. register WPML

That’s it. Your site is now ready to translate content.

How to translate different kinds of content

Let’s walk through the different elements in your site and see how to translate them with WPML.

Translating pages, posts and custom posts while developing the site

WPML adds icons, in the form of a pencil and a plus sign, next to content that you can translate. You will see these icons in the list of pages and in the “Language” box when editing content.

List of Pages with translation controls
List of Pages with translation controls
WPML Language box when editing a page
WPML Language box when editing a page

This is what the different icons mean:

Icon Current status Action
The content is not yet translated Create a new translation and start editing it
The content is already translated, and the translation is up-to-date Edit the existing translation
The content is translated, but the translation needs updating Edit the existing translation
The content is translated, but the translation needs updating, and a new translation is already in progress Further action is not possible because a translation is already in progress

WPML lets you choose how to translate pages and posts. By default, the developer of the site will use the standard WordPress editor. You can also use WPML’s Translation Editor when clicking on the plus sign or pencil icons. To change your translation method, go to the WPML -> Settings page and use the How to translate posts and pages section.

Translating other site content

Taxonomies »

Translating taxonomies

Go to WPML -> Taxonomy Translation to translate tags, categories and custom taxonomy.

Custom fields »

Translating custom fields

You can manually add translations of custom fields directly on the Post Edit screen of the translated post. Go to WPML -> Settings -> Custom Fields Translation to choose which fields will appear in WPML’s Translation Editor.

Images and other media »

Translating image texts

WPML Media Translation allows you to translate images and other media, when you’re using WPML Translation Management.

Translating menus

Use WPML to show different menus for each language. Set up different menus manually or automatically synchronize the menu content.

Widgets »

Translating widgets

Use the String Translation module to translate standard WordPress widget texts as well as texts from custom widgets registered by your theme or plugins.

URLs »

Translating URLs

Edit the permalink directly to translate page names appearing in URLs, and use Translation Management settings to translate slugs of custom post types.

Themes and plugins »

WPML lets you translate the texts that come from the theme and plugins that are running on your site. This way, if themes and plugins are missing some translations, you can add them using the String Translation module.

Admin strings »

You can choose any string in the WP_Options table and make it translatable via WPML. Then, translate these strings using the String Translation module.

E-Commerce sites

WPML offers support for the popular e-commerce plugins:


For Gravity Forms, use Gravity Forms Multilingual. For other form plugins, you’ll need to create separate forms for each language. For an example, see how to translate Contact Form 7 forms.

Custom elements

When you build custom elements for a multilingual site, you will need to translate them. Read the guide on developing custom multilingual sites to see what WPML offers.

Preparing a multi-lingual site for hand-off to clients

When you’re done building the site, it’s time to prepare it for the people who run it. These can be your clients or other people in your organization who are responsible for the site’s content.

Follow the instructions in how to prepare for production content, to see how to set-up Translation Management. Your client will use an organized and safe process for the site’s translation, which allows to control who translates what, without running the risk of breaking your design.