How do you translate items on eBay?

Each listing segment is translated separately using what we call an Adaptive Translation System (ATS), a sophisticated process that splits each listing’s sections (title, category, item specifics, attributes, description, variations) and takes appropriate action depending on a variety of conditions before translisting the item on a foreign marketplace.

Here’s a breakdown of ATS in action:

  1. Item selection process (more here)
  2. Title optimization process (more here)
  3. Original terms matched to our industry libraries
  4. Automatic/Manual translation
  5. Adaptation of translistings to marketplace rules
  6. Item is translisted on a foreign marketplace

Translations which cannot be automatically translated using ATS are translated by skilled translators. Sellers can also define which terms they want to leave intact in our Translation Manager, giving clients who use specific vocabularies and brands more control over the quality of translations.

Here’s a summary of how we translate each items part.


Titles (and Item Specifics) are given the most priority because statistically most purchases are done based on the information provided in Titles and Item Specifics. We use our own industry-specific dictionaries that are continually updated with the assistance of translators and linguists. We also have an automatic error detection mechanism that analyses all translations and sends possible errors to our language specialists for validation and improvement.

Due to character limitations across all marketplaces, before translating a title our system does the following:

  • Removes useless characters (symbols, emoticons, redundant spaces, etc.) using an “expression filter”
  • Removes interjections, onomatopoeia and other trivial words
  • Removes terms that bring nothing of value to titles, e.g., free shipping, free gift, cheap sale, super gift, weekend offer, etc.
  • When the title has to be shortened due to platform character limitations, ATS removes words that are covered in the item’s subcategories, like color, size, gender, etc.

Read this article on how to adapt original titles for WebInterpret. Once all of the above conditions are met, and if the terms in the title aren’t in our database, the title is sent to our translation team.

 Please note:

  • Upper cases are removed in titles. Only the first word and brand names keep their title casing, though we can detect simple patterns and reuse them.
  • eBay has 80 character limits in their titles but these may vary between country marketplaces.
  • Sizes are not translated in titles
  • Other measuring units are converted in titles.
  • In most cases translated titles will not keep the original word order.
  • Book and CD titles are translated, but foreign expressions in titles will be left alone.

Item Specifics

Like with Titles, if expressions in Item Specifics haven't already been translated they will be sent to our translation team for localization.

  • Measuring units are translated using the platform’s built-in conversion charts.
  • Sizes and dimensions are converted between US, UK, Australia and Canada accordingly.
  • We will use the original specifics if they can be used from the original item without requiring a new translation, e.g., part numbers, model number, make, quantity, etc.
  • If the specifics are sizes in the original, and they use terms like Extra Large, our Adaptive Translation System will automatically convert the expression to XL.
  • If the size is in “age” format (Age 7-10 or Months 1-6), our system will only automatically change the word part to the target language.
  • If sizes or dimensions are words, they will be translated.
  • If something is detected as a size, but isn't in our database, we will translate it.


  • We use a patented mechanism to associate your original items to their international marketplace equivalents.
  • Not all categories exist between country marketplaces, but WebInterpret’s Adaptive Translation Mechanism is designed to properly match the original categories to existing international counterparts.
  • Categories are regularly validated by our specialists.
  • When eBay changes its category trees, we update your categories as well. This is done twice a year.


Descriptions are translated entirely by machine. Additionally, WebInterpret does not:

  • Translate size conversions in descriptions
  • Localize dropdown lists in the Motor category
  • Localize JavaScript templates

Variations & Conversion Charts

All variations are translated using our size conversion system (seller charts or our own database of charts for concrete categories and brands). If the conversion charts include numbers we copy them: pieces, quantity, etc. If they include colors we translate them. You can always customize your own conversion charts through our dashboard.

Legal Sections

  • WebInterpret keeps Terms and Conditions in their original language.
  • We use default Return Policy templates for each marketplace. We can use a custom Return Policy if client provides one.
  • eBay Business Policies are also available here.
  • eBay Terms regarding Active Content is available here


  • Avatar
    Andrew R Foster

    I sell antiquarian books.  I'm not the first person to sell old books in Paris - big surprise - so the terms that I use in the US are not going to directly translate into the terms they use in France, or Germany, or Italy, where well established vocabulary exists for the buying and selling of old books.

    At first inspection, the item specifics don't seem to "get" it   While eBay sellers in Germany, for example, have excellent item specific categories developed for relevant book categories (Condition, Publisher, Publishing Date, etc.) the Webinterpret system ignores these corresponding categories and provides random translations of categories like Publishing Date into common definitions such as Date/TimeofDay, or some such nonsense.

    We need to sit down together and work out the one-to-one relationships between item specific categories.

    As I've said, I'm not the first bookseller in Paris.  Books look the same, more or less, all over the world.  We can do this and it will make for a better product.

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