SDL MultiTerm & Trados and Team Project 2

What a relief to relinquish my PM duties and be a freelancer on MAATS Team Project 2 at the University of Leeds! But that is not to say that being a freelancer did not come hand in hand with its own issues and I was, of course, faced with problems from a very different perspective.


Before the project, our classes introduced us to SDL MultiTerm. I loved this software – the term base (TB) allows you to store many different fields of information: not just the translations of ST terms but also translations that are, “preferred” or even “forbidden”. As well as enhancing consistency, especially in huge projects involving many translators, there is the potential to formulate one MultiTerm TB for one project and send it out to freelancers working in a variety of language pairs. This must be a great time-saving functionality from a PM point of view.

Meanwhile, if there is a need to export the TB as an Excel file you can pick and choose the fields you wish to display. I imagine the ability to choose who changed/added items and when could be useful in a company situation.

I liked the Microsoft Word plug-in, which allows users to open a bilingual word document and add terms with just a couple of clicks on the mouse, although its uses are limited. Most importantly, though, MultiTerm is really pretty easy to use!


When we moved onto SDL Trados my expectations were high, having appreciated MultiTerm so much. What did I like about it?

  • The automatic creation of external files – XLiffs – is a bonus… but only if you remember to click save in your project (and the way CAT tools seem to crash, users need to remember to do this frequently).
  • The online tests available in the “translation zone” allow users to obtain “certifications” for different levels, using workbooks and samples (rather than waiting for a real commission and getting it wrong!).
  • Quickplace allows users to copy tags/formatting quickly into the target column
  • Blue brackets signal “recognised tokens” (items that do not need to be translated or can be automatically localised with the TM, such as numbers, variables, mark up tags, acronyms, alphanumeric strings. Trados can also automatically localise dates); red brackets flag up terms that have been found in the terminology database.
  • I was initially a little upset that Trados did not have something similar to DVX3’s preview window but not only is formatting displayed in the target column, there is actually a preview window in an auto-hide box.

On the other hand, there were things I particularly did not like about SDL Trados:

  • The need to save manually, as mentioned previously
  • Packages of a certain number of words can only be made by joining files and not by splitting them.
  • The very – er – obvious flagging up of tags. I initially thought this rather useful but it did not take me long to find the loud, purple tags a bit offensive to the eyes. There is an option to reduce these tags to just small arrows, yet they still retain something of their large and purple presence.

The Team Project… and my blunders

SDL Trados was the software we were to be using in the second Team Project. The PMs asked us to post-edit a translation run through Machine Translation, and it actually mostly required entirely re-writing/re-translating. To look on the bright side, I suppose it showed us what could happen in a real-life situation and taught us to argue with – sorry, gently educate a client or PM.

Unfortunately a large portion of the package sent to me was a bibliography and many of the segments were divided (because of the full stops) after initials and names. I was unable to merge the segments – perhaps this needed to be done by the PM before sending it out? Or perhaps I could have changed the file so the ST could be edited myself? In any case, it was more frustrating than it was a problem, but I would appreciate if readers could shed some light on this.

A warning to all to take care over moving files around: when I decided to work on an external review file from home, I mistakenly converted it to read only… meaning I had to manually import my changes into the SDL package – good job it wasn’t a bigger project!

In conclusion, I am erring towards DVX3 at the moment, although I would really like to make better use of MultiTerm. I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on the differences. I am especially interested in whether the usefulness different CAT tools depends on the type of translation.

On another note…

On Friday I will be attending the Journal of Specialised Translation’s symposium on Legal Translation and will be tweeting ( #jostranslegalxl8 ) throughout the event, as well as reporting on it afterwards – so keep an eye out for my next post, where you will be able to catch up on the key points made by translators who have worked in the field of legal translation for many years, who intend to show the importance of CPD, to give us an insight into what we need to become legal translators and to explain the importance role of translators, interpreters and sociolinguistics in justice systems.


  1. A nice review and really good to hear you loved MultiTerm and found it easy to use. I often think it’s less than easy reputation is the result of people not spending as much time using it as they do Trados or Studio, and because it is a specialist tool in its own right this is probably to be expected. Fortunately the OpenExchange tools we see today do make it easier for less terminology experienced translation professionals.
    Just a couple of points on your experience with Studio. You didn’t mention the version you were using but I assume you meant Studio and not Trados because you spoke about XLIFF files. I also assume you must be using the original Studio 2009 which is no longer supported as we have released 2011 and 2014 since then. Both 2011 and 2014 have an AutoSave so there is no need to keep pressing ctrl+s as you work. In addition to this if you created a Project instead of working with single files then the XLIFF files are created as part of this process so no need to save separately anyway.
    Studio can also make use of the OpenExchange and in here you can download many different tools and plugins, many of which you might have found useful. The SDLXLIFF toolkit for example will allow you to split files in many different ways in addition to many other file manipulation tasks, and SDLXLIFF Split ‘n’ Merge will split them for you too.
    The dividing of segments on names is very odd as the segmentation rules would normally handle this scenario out of the box, but even if some of the names were so “full stoppy” (if that’s a word!) that unwanted segmentation occurred then you can edit this to ensure the file is correctly prepared first. The reason you could not merge them afterwards is because one inherent drawback of Trados and Studio is the inability to merge across paragraph breaks. So if you have a file with many of these that are not prepared carefully then this would indeed be a nuisance!
    I liked your real experience based appraisal though, thank you for writing it!


    1. Thank you so much for your comment – it is really nice to see people are reading and interacting with my work.

      I apologise for not mentioning the version I was using, that really should have been key to the blog – it was in fact SDL Trados Studio 2014 (University of Leeds is wonderfully up to date!). I have obviously missed the AutoSave function and so will certainly bear that in mind next time I am using the software. Your point about creating a project so that XLIFFs are automatically created as part of the process is what I was attempting to say in my blog… you put it much more clearly!

      Thanks again for your very full reply and please keep an eye out for future posts. They will range between matters that interest me and entries such as this one, which focus on using various software from a novice point of view, but hopefully will remain interesting to all translators whether they are professionals who have been working in the industry for years, new(ish) starters like myself or people deciding whether to head down the translation path in the future.


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