I have one QGIS on my personal laptop in English, and another QGIS at work in French. I find it much harder to search for help when working from the French version because the keywords (and the tool names) just don't turn up in searches. Furthermore, when asking questions, I try to find the terms in the English version, but sometimes I give up. I just got told that my screenshot in French was noise in the question. But that's the language I work in.

Is it better to avoid all technical verbatim vocabulary in order to avoid using another language or it is better to provide a screenshot? A screenshot usually provides some visual context to match up terms from one version to another (or perhaps this is only something those of us who use programs in languages other than English are used to). Or, providing an error message can be useful to figuring out the problem... but if the error is originally in another language, then best to not provide detail?

Also, specifically to QGIS, is it really useful to have QGIS in other languages when support is only in English? I tried to find an option to install QGIS in English on my French computer, but I didn't succeed. Could error messages be provided in both languages? Is there a translation tool for all QGIS terms that could be used to translate error messages and such?

This is a related issue, but in my view different from:

I am specifically asking about using a couple of technical terms or a screenshot in another language -- not about the entire post being in another language.

  • 2
    Stack Exchange Policy on non-English Questions blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/07/non-english-question-policy
    – Mapperz Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 22:25
  • 1
    Related meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13676/…
    – Mapperz Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 22:27
  • I get it that questions need to be in English, which is what those other posts discuss. Is it better to include more information (screenshots from user's own program or a couple of technical terms) or to just be as suscinct as possible (and thus be more vague)? Or to use my best approximation of the translation of the tool, which may be inaccurate? My first language is English so it's not as if I can't speak English. I see other users post screenshots in German or Spanish and I personally find it useful since I can approximate from there -- better something than nothing. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 22:39
  • Are you able to provide a link to where "I just got told that my screenshot in French was noise in the question."?
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 22:56
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    Specifically for QGIS you can choose the interface language in the general tab of the option panel (you need to restart QGIS after modifying it) so you have the possibility to switch between french and English at will
    – J.R
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:56
  • @J.R. restarting QGis is rather a big hassle when you are up to the elbows in a project just want to get a quick solution for a problem. Sure, I could run QGis in English all the time, but then I'd have to switch languages when colleagues ask me to show them any processes or solutions. So, the "at will" is not really given.
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


I do not use any non-English software versions but I often see them turn up in questions here.

While I use Google Translate to translate question bodies and titles into English, I think it is fine for those questions to include anything that is taken verbatim from the interface like button names, error messages, etc in the original language.

I would not like to see screenshots used instead of text for providing error messages.

My advice to users of GIS software with non-English interfaces is:

  1. Write the bulk of your question and title in English (use Google Translate or an equivalent to achieve this if you need to).
  2. Write button names, error messages and anything that is taken verbatim from the interface in the original language as text
  3. Only use pictures of text to support actual text
  4. Try to provide both languages when talking about button names, etc. For example, you could write:

I used the Search/Chercher button to look for X

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    I didn't mention using screenshots to provide error messages... If you know the button name in English, why provide it in the language of user-interface? otherwise, your guidelines seem reasonable Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 23:08
  • @user3386170 so that it can turn up in future searches. Search/Chercher is a simple translate but a "Burninate" button equivalent on a French interface might be hard to find.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 23:12

specifically to QGIS, is it really useful to have QGIS in other languages when support is only in English?

It can be useful when the user is not dedicated to finding the solution to certain problems.

That is, assuming you have an employee and you indicate to him which tools he should use and how to use them, he can feel more comfortable using the software in his native language. But it only applies in the case that when is needed to solve a problem, you are in charge of finding the solution and, in that case, you must have your software in English.

I tried to find an option to install QGIS in English on my French computer, but I didn't succeed.

All translations are installed. But in the options, by default, the tools, menus and all the texts are displayed in the language of the machine's system.

You can Override system locale in the Settings > Options menu, General tab.


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