Translation tools

At this stage you’re likely to have chosen a CAT tool already, are confident in its use, and not keen to change. I won’t try to convince you of the benefits of one tool over another, I’ll only touch on some alternative uses for your CAT tool that you might not have realised were possible. Uses which could increase the amount of billable hours you have to offer your clients, and so maximise your income. If you definitely don’t have these features, consider investing in a new tool.


For your agency clients, if applicable to your tool, let them know if you have the ability to accept files in both proprietary and open formats. With MemoQ, for instance, I can accept files in a wide range of formats for various applications and CAT tools and this has given me a useful layer of flexibility to offer clients. Specifically, InDesign and AutoCAD files, as well as other proprietary CAT tool formats.

Translation memory concordancing

If you use a CAT tool you certainly will have built translation memories for a variety of projects in the past. I have built a central TM to use with all projects, and I dip into it by highlighting the word in question and running a search through the concordancing engine. This brings up all instances of the word I may have previously translated in a variety of other contexts to help me place its current translation.

This saves me re-researching the same word online or on paper and shows me, in a single list, all the other times I’ve translated the word and how I tackled it each time.

To create a large central TM you can use various tools to merge TMX files, often in batches. The one I initially used when moving from OmegaT to MemoQ was Olifant, but now MemoQ allows me to do so in its interface.

I couldn’t import my full all-project TM into OmegaT as it had memory restrictions in place, but in MemoQ I can import it alongside the full EU DGT TM for every relevant project in a matter of minutes. If your tool can do this, I wholly recommend it. If not, upgrade!


This is the act of taking a source and target text, with no TM, and creating a new TM from them. Useful when managing projects in other languages and for building a TM for your client.

CAT tool performance

Is your tool quick, and able to offer high-performance concordance and TM leverage? Are the keyboard shortcuts awkward, or can they be customised?

If relying on a free tool for your translation work (apart from the inherent privacy risks they can present) you may not realise that investing in a CAT tool can start to make you more money in a very short time by boosting your productivity.

I recommend you take a trial of one of the majors if you have any doubts about the performance of your CAT tool and its effect on your business’ profitability.

Just say that with your current tool, 500 words take you 60 minutes. When trialling a new tool you find that those same 500 words now take you 45 minutes to translate, that is a 25% speed increase.

If you currently translate for 30 hours a week, which would average to 15,000 words a week (30*500), the new tool would let you cover the same amount of words in just 22.5 hours (30*0.75), which is a saving of 7.5 hours, or a whole working day. One whole working day per week throughout the year will add up to a full month of additional working capacity (provided you work 30 weeks of the year).

Small savings in time can add up to big improvements to your profits; you can potentially add another month’s earnings to your bottom line just by optimising your CAT tool usage. That’s a 10% pay rise for just streamlining your workflow. There are many other ways to oil your work systems and machinery. Allow me to explain a few of my favourites.

Thanks for reading. I do translation from French and Swedish to English, so if that's useful to you, feel free to connect and message me on LinkedIn or Twitter.