Plan for multilingual sites (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 has several features that enable you to support users in different regions or users who speak different languages. You can use these features to create Web sites in different languages and configure site variation settings that make it easy to track site updates and changes across several duplicate sites.

This article discusses how to plan for multilingual SharePoint Server 2010 sites. This article does not describe how to create multilingual sites or how to install language packs. For information about creating multilingual sites, see Create sites in different languages from the default language. For information about language packs, see Deploy language packs (SharePoint Server 2010).

In this article:

  • About planning multilingual sites

  • Determine language and locale requirements

  • Determine whether to use site variations

  • Determine language pack requirements

  • Determine requirements for word breakers and stemmers

About planning multilingual sites

If your organization has to support users in different regions or users who speak different languages, you must determine what your multilingual requirements are and plan for multilingual site deployment when you plan your overall site structure and navigation.

To determine your multilingual requirements, you must:

  • Determine the languages and locales that you have to support.

  • Determine whether you want to use the site variations feature.

To plan for multilingual site deployment, you must determine which language features and components to install or configure on your servers. These can include:

  • Language packs.

  • Word breaker support.


Although Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 supported internationalized domain names (IDNs), SharePoint Server 2010 does not. If you currently use IDNs with Office SharePoint Server 2007 and you plan to upgrade or migrate to SharePoint Server 2010, you must stop using IDNs, delete any IDN settings, and set up a non-IDN environment before you upgrade or migrate to SharePoint Server 2010.

Determine language and locale requirements

You might have to create sites in multiple languages for any of the following reasons:

  • You want to provide Web site content to users in different regions.

  • You are required by government regulation or organizational policy to provide Web site content in more than one language.

Be sure to consult all potential site owners when you determine your language requirements, and be sure to list all languages that you might have to support in the future. It is easier to install language support during initial deployment instead of waiting to install language support when your servers are running in a full production environment. After a site has been created for a specific language, the default language of the site cannot be changed. However, a user who is logged on to the site can use the multilingual user interface to select an alternative language in which to display the site. This changes the way the site user interface is displayed to the user, but it does not change the site content. For example, if the site was provisioned in French, and the Spanish language pack has also been installed on the server, a site user can change the language to Spanish so that when they view the site, the user interface will be in Spanish. This changes the user interface for that user only and does not affect how the site is displayed to other users. Also, any content that was created in French will still be displayed in French. For more information about the multilingual user interface, see Multilingual user interface overview (SharePoint Server 2010).


If a user changes their personal site settings to display the site in an alternative language, some site elements, such as column names, might still be displayed in the default site language.

Do not assume that you have to create a Web site or a site collection in multiple languages only because a document library contains documents in multiple languages. A document library can contain documents in multiple languages without requiring you to create Web sites or site collections in multiple languages. For example, the document library for an English site collection can contain documents that are written in French and documents that are written in Japanese. For publishing sites, content can be created in any language. You do not have to create a Web site in specific language in order to display pages that contain content in other languages.

When you are planning multilingual sites, you should also consider what locales are necessary to support your sites. Locale is a regional setting that specifies the way numbers, dates and times are displayed on a site. However, locale does not change the language in which the site is displayed. For example, selecting the Thai locale changes the default sort order of list items and uses the Buddhist calendar instead of the default calendar. The locale is a setting that is configured independently of the language specified when a site is created, but unlike the language, the locale can be changed at any time. For more information about translation of the user interface, see Determine language pack requirements.

Determine whether to use site variations

The SharePoint Server 2010 variations feature enables site administrators to make the same information available to specific audiences across different sites by maintaining customizable copies of the content from the source variation in each target variation. A variation consists of a set of labels that is used to create a set of sites in a site collection. For example, if you want four language variations of your site, you must create four labels, one for each language. The variations feature will create four sites, one for each label. The site administrator selects one label to be the source label. The corresponding source site is where most of the new content enters the system. The remaining labels are the target labels, which the variations feature creates as target sites. For a multilingual site, you might want to use the primary language of your organization as the source label. There can be only one source label, and after the source label has been specified, it cannot be changed. For more information about variations, see Variations overview (SharePoint Server 2010).

To ensure seamless synchronization, when a change is made to a page within the source site, you can configure the variations feature so that the updated page is copied either manually or automatically to the target sites. The change can be as minor as correcting a spelling error or as major as a complete rewrite of the content. The copy appears as a new draft item on the target site; it does not replace the existing content. The content owner on the target site makes the decision to accept the change as is, translate the change, or ignore the change. The same applies if a user on the source site creates a new site below the source site or publishes a new page. Site administrators can decide to create a variation's corresponding site and pages either automatically or manually.

When you plan for multilingual sites, consider whether you have to create content that will be shared across sites, but must be modified to meet regional requirements or translated to meet language requirements. For more information, see Plan variations (SharePoint Server 2010).

Determine language pack requirements

Based on the language requirements of your Web site, determine the language packs that have to be installed on your front-end Web servers. Language packs enable you to create sites and site collections in multiple languages without requiring separate installations of SharePoint Server 2010. Language packs are installed on the front-end Web servers in your server farm and contain language-specific site templates. When you create a site or a site collection that is based on a language-specific site template, the user interface text that appears on the site or the site collection is displayed in the language of the specified site template. For example, when you decide to create a site in French, the toolbars, navigation bars, lists, and column headings for that site will appear in French. Likewise, if you decide to create a site in Arabic, the toolbars, navigation bars, lists, and column headings for that site will appear in Arabic, and the default left-to-right orientation of the site changes to a right-to-left orientation to properly display Arabic text.

If your site will have users who cannot work in the default language that you plan to use for the site, you should also install language packs that will enable users to work in their chosen language by using the multilingual user interface. If you do not provide support for additional languages, users might find it difficult to use site features in their non-native language. Language packs provide language-specific translation of user interface elements such as the following:

  • Ribbon elements

  • List and site column headers

  • Site settings interface

  • Templates for new lists, document libraries, and sites

  • Managed metadata tagging.

  • Relevant search indexing of content that is not in the default language of the site.


Language packs provide translation only of the user interface. They do not translate content that is created and displayed in content pages or Web Parts.

The list of available languages that you can use to create a site or site collection, and which users can select in the multilingual user interface, is generated by the language packs that are installed on the front-end Web servers of your server farm. By default, sites and site collections are created in the language in which SharePoint Server 2010 was installed. For example, if you install the Spanish version of SharePoint Server 2010, the default language for sites, site collections, and Web pages is Spanish. If you have to create sites, site collections, or Web pages in a language other than the default SharePoint Server 2010 language, you must first install the language pack for that other language on the front-end Web servers before you can select another language in which to create a site. For example, if you are running the French version of SharePoint Server 2010 and you want to create sites in French, English, and Spanish, then you must install the English and Spanish language packs on the front-end Web servers before you can create the English and Spanish sites.

Language packs for SharePoint Server 2010 are not bundled or grouped into multilingual installation packages: you must install a specific language pack for each language that you want to support. Also, language packs must be installed on every front-end Web server in the server farm to ensure that each Web server can render content in the specified language. For information about what language packs are available, see Language packs (SharePoint Server 2010). For information about how to deploy language packs, see Deploy language packs (SharePoint Server 2010).

Even though you specify a language for a site, some user interface elements such as error messages, notifications, or dialog boxes might not appear in the language that you choose. This is because SharePoint Server 2010 relies on several supporting technologies — such as the .NET Framework, Microsoft Windows Workflow Foundation, ASP.NET, and Microsoft SQL Server — and some of these supporting technologies are localized into only a limited number of languages. If a user interface element is generated by one of the supporting technologies, and if the supporting technology is not localized into the language that the site administrator specified for the site, the user interface element appears in English.

In addition, some text might originate from the original installation language, which can create a mixed-language experience. This type of mixed-language experience is typically seen only by content creators or site administrators and is not seen by site users.


Error logs that SharePoint Server 2010 stores on the server are always in English.

For more information about installing language packs, see Deploy language packs (SharePoint Server 2010).

Determine requirements for word breakers and stemmers

Word breakers and stemmers are components that are part of the indexing and querying processes. A word breaker is a component that is used to break strings of text into individual words during the indexing and querying processes. A stemmer is a component that finds the root word of a term and can also generate variations of that term. The rules for word breaking and stemming differ for different languages, and you can specify different rules for different languages. Word breakers for each language enable the resulting terms to be more accurate for that language. Where there is a word breaker for a language family, but not for a specific sub-language, the major language is used. For example, the French word breaker is used to handle text that is French Canadian. If no word breaker is available for a particular language, the neutral word breaker is used. With the neutral word breaker, words are broken at neutral characters such as spaces and punctuation marks.

If you install any language packs or supplemental language support, we recommend that you install the appropriate word breaker and stemmer for each of the languages that you have to support. Word breakers and stemmers must be installed on all servers that are running the Search service. For a list of the languages for which SharePoint Server 2010 provides word breakers and stemmers, see Languages for word breakers and stemmers (SharePoint Server 2010).

See Also


Multilingual term sets (SharePoint Server 2010)
Multilingual user interface overview (SharePoint Server 2010)
Plan for the multilingual user interface (SharePoint Server 2010)