Hello everyone! I recently had fun helping a colleague get started with Trados and it inspired me to write a short series of articles aimed at others who, like her, aren’t yet familiar with this good old CAT tool. This series will only look at more general points, with the aim being to offer a quick and simple introduction to translators who haven’t had much experience with the software.

This first article will therefore cover the absolute basics—what Trados is used for and what it looks like. The second article will look at features unique to Trados. The third will look at the basic steps involved in translating a standard file in Trados, and the fourth will explore how to work with SDLXLIFF/MQXLIFF files. The fifth article will offer some more advanced tips, such as ignoring columns you don’t want to translate in an Excel file. And, finally, we will learn how to insert your translation directly into the Excel column of your choice.

1) Why use Trados?

Trados offers various benefits in a number of different situations. Some of the most salient include its ability to ensure consistency between the terminology used in different texts, especially when they contain repetitions; the ability to automatically recreate a document’s layout and formatting—this can save a lot of time; and the fact it reduces the odds of us accidentally missing out a sentence in a translation. It also makes life a lot easier if you are working with a tricky file format (I’m looking at you, PowerPoint and Excel).

But it does come with some drawbacks: If you’re working on a creative text, it’s not ideal to have to deal with every paragraph sentence by sentence. Not to mention that, while it is extremely comprehensive in its features, sometimes there are almost too many, and the sheer number of tabs and sections available can be a little overwhelming.

Overall, then, Trados is primarily aimed at translators who work on texts that contain lots of repetitions or whose clients use a CAT tool to simplify their own internal processes. If you work on very varied projects, your clients don’t require you to use Trados and you don’t feel comfortable using the software, you are under no obligation to do so.

2) A few basic terms

It’s easy to get caught off guard by some of the terms used in Trados when you’re new to the tool, so let’s have a quick look at some of them together:

First off, Trados is a Computer-Assisted Translation tool, or “CAT” tool. It is not a machine translation tool. You have to come up with the translation yourself and Trados simply “assists” you by respecting the formatting and providing access to translation memories, etc.

A translation memory is a file that saves (or memorizes) your translations. This means that when a sentence is repeated (either in this text or another five years later), your translation memory (TM) will let you know you how you translated it before.

There are also matches, which include perfect matches (two sentences that are 100% identical) and partial matches or fuzzies—where the two sentences are X% identical, such as “the car is blue” and “the car is green”. For the latter, your translation memory will see you have previously translated an almost identical sentence and show you how, highlighting the differences between the two instances.

Finally, a termbase is a sort of glossary. You can use it to save terms alongside their translations and even add definitions and examples in context. When one of these terms then appears in a source sentence, your termbase will display the related entry.

3) The Trados layout

Trados is made up of many (too many?) different sections. At the top, there is a toolbar (which changes depending on which tab you are in). On the left, you can access various pages (Welcome, Projects, Files, Editor, Translation Memories). These pages are often further divided up into several different levels.

As it would be pretty tedious to go through EVERY SINGLE section available in Trados, I’m just going to quickly go over the main parts to help you navigate the tool with ease. It’s like Word, most of the time you’re just using 3-4 tabs. You rarely need to go into Mail Merge or Draw.

3.1) Welcome view

When you open Trados, it takes you first to the Welcome page. From here, you can open a file/package, create a project, read through the quick-start guides and access other support resources (under Get Started and More Resources).

3.2) Projects view

The second tab on the left takes you to the Projects page. This page is divided into two parts. At the top, you will see a list of your projects, and underneath information on the project selected. In the bottom section, you can see analysis statistics for your project (the number of repetitions, etc.) and confirmation statistics (the number of words translated so far and still to translate, etc.).

In my view, the other sections—Project Details, Project Attributes, etc.—aren’t of much interest to a freelance translator. They’re probably more useful for a project manager.

If you double-click on a project, you will be taken to the Files tab, where you can see the files in the project selected.

3.3) Files view

This section is also split into two parts. Files are shown in the upper part and statistics in the lower section.

If you double-click on a file (or select several files and right-click Open for translation), you will be taken to the Editor view, where you can do some actual translating.

3.4) Editor view

This is, of course, the most detailed and most important page. You can personalize it as you like. In the image above, for example, I wasn’t using a termbase for the project, so I closed that section to get a clearer view.

In the lower half, it’s simple. On the left you can see your source document divided into “segments” (segments are generally split up based on punctuation marks), and, on the right, your translation. In the bottom-right, you can see the confirmation statistics for your project, including the number and percentage of words or segments not-translated, in draft mode, and confirmed.

Double-click on these numbers to change your display preferences.

Finally, in the upper half of the Editor page, various windows are available:

  • Translation Results: This shows the matches from your translation memory. If you are translating a sentence that has been translated before, it will be shown in this window. Any differences between the two sentences will be highlighted.
  • Fragment Matches: A little like the previous section, this one uses your translation memory but this time looks at shorter fragments. In this case, imagine you are translating a longer sentence that includes the words “the car is green”. The fragment match will show you that “the car is green” has previously been translated as “la voiture est verte”, but it won’t appear in the Translation Results section, because that section only deals with the segment you are working on as a whole.
  • Concordance Search: This is my favourite feature! You can use it to search for a term (“salarié”, for example) and shows all the segments in your translation memory where the word has appeared before, with your translation next to it. You will be able to see that you normally translate it with the word “employee” or “staff member”. (You can also click on a word or expression in the source text and hit ALT+F3 to go straight to this tab).
  • Messages: This tab shows any warning/error messages related to quality assurance.

In the next article, we’ll look at a few basic features of Trados!

This is a translation of one of my French articles (“Trados: à quoi ça sert et comment se présente l’outil“), kindly provided by the amazing Georgie Scott from Cf Language Solutions!

Categories: Trados


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