unfoldingWord® Translation Notes https://www.unfoldingword.org/utn/
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unfoldingWord® Translation Notes

This is the repository for the unfoldingWord® Translation Notes (UTN) resource.


unfoldingWord® Translation Notes are open-licensed exegetical notes that provide historical, cultural, and linguistic information for translators. It provides translators and checkers with pertinent, just-in-time information to help them make the best possible translation decisions.


If you want to download the UTN to use, go here: https://www.unfoldingword.org/utn. UTN is also included in tS and tC.

Editing the UTN

To edit the UTN files there are three options:

  • Use LibreOffice (Recommended)
  • Use a text editor on your computer
  • Use the online web editor in DCS

Each of these options and their caveats are described below.

The first two options require you to clone the repository to your computer first. You may do this on the command line or using a program such as SmartGit. After making changes to the files you will need to commit and push your changes to the server and then create a Pull Request to merge them to the master branch.

Alternately, you may download the master branch as a zip file and extract that locally. After editing you would need to use the upload file feature in DCS to get your changes ready for a Pull Request.

Editing in tC Create

This is the recommended way to edit the TSV files. tC Create is a web-based application that you can access here. NOTE: you need to have a Door43 account in order to use tC Create.

Once you log in, simply follow the prompts to open the file you wish to edit.

When you are done editing, click Save button at the top right corner of the screen.

Editing in a Text Editor

You may also use a regular text editor to make changes to the files.

Note: You must be careful not to delete or add any tab characters when editing with this method.

Editing in DCS

If you only need to change a word or two, this may be the quickest way to make your change. See the protected branch workflow document for step by step instructions.

Note: You must be careful not to delete any tab characters when editing with this method. Also, you CANNOT manually input the tab characters using the tab bar on your keyboard, because DCS will save them as spaces and not as tab separators. The best way to insert tab separators is by copying and pasting tab characters from an existing tNote.


The UTN are structured as TSV files to simplify importing and exporting into various formats for translation and presentation. This enables the tNs to be keyed to the original Greek and Hebrew text instead of only a Gateway Language translation.

TSV Format Overview

A Tab Separated Value (TSV) file is like a Comma Separated Value file except that the tab character is what divides the values instead of a comma. This makes it easier to include prose text in the files because many languages require the use of commas, single quotes, and double quotes in their sentences and paragraphs.

The UTN are structured as one file per book of the bible and encoded in TSV format, for example, 01-GEN.tsv. The columns are Book, Chapter, Verse, ID, SupportReference, OrigQuote, Occurrence, GLQuote, and OccurrenceNote.

UTN TSV Column Description

The following lists each column with a brief description and example.

  • Book: USFM book code name (e.g. TIT)
  • Chapter: Chapter number (e.g. 1)
  • Verse: Verse number (e.g. 3)
  • ID: Four character alphanumeric string unique within the verse for the resource (e.g. swi9)
    • This will be helpful in identifing which notes are translations of the original English tNs and which notes have been added by GLs.
    • The Universal ID (UID) of a note is the combination of the Book, Chapter, Verse, and ID fields. For example, tit/1/3/swi9.
      • This is a useful way to unambiguously refer to notes.
      • An RC link can resolve to a specific note like this: rc://en/tn/help/tit/01/01/swi9.
  • SupportReference
    • Normally a link to a supporting reference text or blank
    • This will usually be a link to translationAcademy, like rc://*/ta/man/translate/figs-metaphor
  • OrigQuote: Original language quote (e.g. ἐφανέρωσεν…τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ)
    • Software (such as tC) should use this for determining what is highlighted rather than using the GLQuote field
    • An ellipsis character (…) indicates that the quote is discontinuous, software should interpret this in a non-greedy manner
  • Occurrence: Specifies which occurrence in the original language text the entry applies to.
    • -1: entry applies to every occurrence of OrigQuote in the verse
    • 0: entry does not occur in original language (for example, “Connecting Statement:”)
    • 1: entry applies to first occurrence of OrigQuote only
    • 2: entry applies to second occurrence of OrigQuote only
    • etc.
  • GLQuote: (optional) Gateway language quote (e.g. he revealed his word)
    • Software (such as tC) should disregard this field.
    • This field is a reference text for GL translators
    • For certain notes, this field represents the display text for notes that do not relate to a specific word or phrase in the text. There are two such cases in the tN:
      • “Connecting Statement:” and
      • “General Information:”
    • GL translations teams should not translate this column. They do need to provide a translation of the above 2 statements.
  • OccurrenceNote: The Markdown formatted note itself. For example, Paul speaks of God’s message as if it were an object that could be visibly shown to people. Alternate translation: “He caused me to understand his message” (See: [[rc://en/ta/man/translate/figs-metaphor]])
    • The text should be Markdown formatted, which means the following are also acceptable:
      • Plaintext—if you have no need for extra markup, just use plain text in this column
      • HTML—if you prefer to use inline HTML for markup, that works because it is supported in Markdown

Composing translationNotes

Below are a few formatting guidelines that govern the composition of transationNotes.

  • All tNotes should reference ONLY a single translationAcademy article. If a second article needs to be referenced, an additional tNote should be added.
  • All tNotes should reference one of the “Just-in-Time” articles from translationAcademy, i.e., those with file names beginning with “figs-” or “grammar-” “translate-” or “writing-.”
  • The ULT term/concept being discussed in each Note should be in bold type, NOT in “quotation marks.”
  • Only use quotation marks to indicate suggested translations. Do not precede the suggestion with the word “that” (which turns them into indirect quotes) i.e., You could say that “they were planning to assassinate him.” Corrected to: You could say, “they were planning to assassinate him.”
  • It is not enough to enclose “for example” in commas mid sentence and follow it with an example, i.e., You can say this with an active form, for example, “Mordecai found out what they were planning.” Corrected to: You can say this with an active form such as “Mordecai found out what they were planning.” Another example might include: You can say this with an active form, and you can say who did the action. For example, you can say, “Then the king’s servants investigated Mordecai’s report and found out that it was true.”
  • When beginning a tNotes with the word “Here,” the term should be followed by a comma. For instance: “Here, the ULT term means …”
  • Do NOT include a period at the end of the “Alternate translation:” fragment at the end of a tNote. The “Alternate translation” should be formatted as a floating sentence fragment immediately followed by the translationAcademy hyperlink (if applicable), i.e., Alternation translation: “in the presence of Yahweh” (See: Metaphor)
  • When composing tNotes using tC Create, all hyperlinks should be typed in “Markdown” mode instead of “Preview” mode. Hyperlinks entered in Preview mode will not be saved in their proper format.
  • Scripture references within the same book should be referenced using both chapter and verse, separate by a colon, i.e. 3:16. To use this same example, the proper hyperlink format places the hyperlink text in brackets [3:16] immediately followed by the link itself in parentheses (../03/16.md). There should not be a space between the brackets and the parentheses.
  • The file name in the SupportReference field MUST be an exact match for the hyperlink at the close of the tNote. If they do not match, the link will not work properly.

GL Translators

tN Translation Philosophy

To learn the philosophy of how to translate these notes please see the Translate the translationNotes article in the Gateway Language Manual.

tN Translation Notes

Here are some important technical notes to keep in mind as you translate tN:

  • Only the OccurrenceNote column needs to be translated
  • Do not remove any column in the TSV files
  • You will also need to supply a translation of these 2 phrases which are repeated, “Connecting Statement:” and “General Information:”.
    • These phrases occur many times in the GLQuote column.
    • You may want to use find and replace to update the English text with your GL text. If not, we can do this when preparing the text for publishing.
  • Remember: the GLQuote column is not required to be filled out. Only use this field if it is helpful during the translation process. The software that processes the tNs will use alignment data to identify which words in your GL translation the individual notes refer to.

The section above on Editing the tNs may give you ideas on what software to use. Of course, you can also convert the TSV files into another format, do the translation, and then convert them back to TSV files (just ensure the IDs are preserved if you do this). Follow Translate Content Online to get a copy of this repository to begin your work.

Add Notes

As a translator of UTN into a GL, you may need to add new notes. Follow these steps to do this:

  1. Add a new row in the correct book, chapter, verse order.

  2. Fill out each field for the row according to the UTN TSV Column Description above, taking note of these instructions:

    • Choose a new ID for this note, which must unique among the notes in the verse.
    • If you don’t know Greek, put the GL text that the note refers to in the GLQuote field. Have a reviewer who knows Greek and your GL come back and add the approprate text from the UGNT that the note refers to.


See the LICENSE file for licensing information.