How to create a termbase in MultiTerm – for use in Trados Studio

August 13, 2012 by

How to create a termbase in MultiTerm for use in Trados StudioIf you translate using Trados, it’s well worth the effort to learn how to use MultiTerm to manage your terminology. It can help you to translate faster and increase the consistency and quality of your translations.

To make the most of MultiTerm, you’ll need to learn how to:

This might seem like a lot, but if you’re already using Trados, learning MultiTerm will definitely make a difference to your translations.

In this post I’ll look at how to create a specific kind of termbase in MultiTerm: a bilingual glossary. I’ll explain the steps in MultiTerm2011 – and if you have the 2009 version, the steps are almost identical, so you'll still be able to follow them. Then I’ll look at the other procedures in future posts.

(You might also want to look at: The quick way to convert glossaries and termbases between Excel and MultiTerm.)

When should you create a termbase in MultiTerm?

You might need to create a bilingual glossary termbase for a particular client. You can then use this termbase within Trados Studio for all of the projects you translate for them.

You may also want to create your own default termbase for frequently used terms, or terms related to a specialist field. Or you might need to create a termbase so that you can import terms into it from a glossary in Excel.

The steps: how to create a bilingual glossary termbase in MultiTerm

1. Start the MultiTerm Desktop application. You’ll find it on the Start menu under All Programs / SDL / SDL MultiTerm.
Note: If you’ve purchased Trados Studio but can’t find a folder for MultiTerm, it could be that you haven’t downloaded it yet. Log on to your SDL account and download it from there. (This will take a while!)
2. On the Termbase menu, click Create Termbase.

MultiTerm create termbase

The Save New Termbase dialog box displays.
3. Select the folder where you want to save the new termbase, enter a file name, and click Save.

File Name

The Termbase Wizard screen displays.

MultiTerm Termbase Wizard

4. Click Next. The Termbase Definition screen displays.

MultiTerm Termbase Definition

5. Select Use a predefined termbase template and then click Next.
Note: the default selection is to create a new termbase definition from scratch. Don’t try this yet – it’s much easier to use the predefined bilingual glossary template instead. There’s also a predefined multilingual termbase template, which you can use if you have terms in more than two languages.

The Termbase Name screen displays.

MultTerm Termbase Name Completed

6. Enter a name, description and any copyright details for the termbase, and click Next. The Index Fields screen displays.

MultiTerm Index Fields

7. Check that the languages in the Selected index fields box are the ones that you require. To add a language, select the language from the Languages dropdown list and click Add. To remove a language, select the language in the Selected index fields box and click Remove. When the languages are as required, click Next.

The Descriptive Fields screen displays.

MultiTerm Descriptive Fields

8. Click Next.
Note: You don’t need to change anything on this screen. You’ll be able to add descriptions to the terms in your termbase in these fields.

The Entry Structure screen displays.

MultiTerm Entry Structure

9. Click Next.
Note: Again, you don’t need to change anything on this screen.

The Wizard Complete screen displays.

MultiTerm Wizard Complete

10. Click Finish. The new termbase is now open in MultiTerm.

MultiTerm Termbase

What happens next:
You now have a shiny new termbase, ready for you to add terms and use for term recognition during translation. This may seem like a long process, but you only need to set up the termbase once and then you can start using it.
Next you can either convert and import a glossary from Excel, or add the termbase to a project and add new terms within Trados Studio. I’ll explain how to do this in future posts.

By Jayne Fox BSc MITI, German-English translator.
For German-English medical translation – and translation of corporate communications.

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About the author: Jayne Fox is a German-English translator specialising in corporate communications for sci-tech and health care. She works with German and Swiss organisations to help them communicate effectively with international audiences.

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  1. Véronique Stone

    Fantastic tutorial, very clear, I have been trying to do this for a while and it's the first time I find a tutorial easy to follow, brilliant!!

  2. Jayne Fox

    Thanks Véronique, hope you can make use of it!

  3. Robin Powers Miyaguchi

    Thank you, Jayne. I agree with Veronique Stone. Your tutorial was very clear. Most importantly, it worked (unlike some others that I had tried)! I want to express my deep appreciation to you for sharing your knowledge so generously. You made my day! Thank you, thank you.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your feedback, Robin - I'm glad it worked!

  4. Stromfahrer

    Hi Jayne,

    thanks for doing all the documentation that SDL is missing.

    MultiTerm has all the structure to maintain terminolgy including synonyms, antonyms: The concept level, the language level and the term level.

    Thus, an Excel sheet with the following structure expresses all that:

    CcptID Lang Status Term Notes
    456 DE Green Auto Umgangssprachlich
    456 EN Green Car -
    456 DE Green Kraftfahrzeug Formal, Amtsdeutsch
    456 DE Red Karre Vulgär, nicht für Automotive
    789 EN Green sky
    789 DE Green Himmel
    123 DE Green Himmel
    123 EN Green Heaven

    The example has three concepts, one has synonyms and forbidden terms in DE.
    We have German homonyms (but different concepts), too.

    How do I manage to import that kind of (really MultiTerm like) structure into Multiterm with one import step. I failed and failed again.

    Do you have a hint?

    • Jayne Fox

      Good question - as far as I know, you need to have one column for DE and one column for EN. So you could have a row with Sky in the EN column and Himmel in the DE column, and then another row with Heaven in the EN column and Himmel in the DE column, etc. The other columns should be fine.
      Does that make sense?

      • Stromfahrer

        Well, that is what SDL writes.
        While customers think of terminology as “heaven” (2nd column) is a translation of “Himmel” (1st column), as a translator I think that heaven is an EN expression of the concept #123, that is what people believe to get to once they die.

        Both thoughts are equal if we talk about 2 languages in a specific direction. But they are not, if we talk about terminology for a single language (the concept of “snow” in Inuit) or in multiple languages.

        My problem is that I have to deal with both: single language terminlogy (what eqals to a glossary) and multi language.

        To look from each language onto each possible expression in another language, one needs to have the concept ID.

        To import a multi lingual terminology via Excel (and not as MultiTerm-XML), the example of “snow“ would lead to a table that holds every possible combiniation from any language perspective.

        EN DE INUIT
        snow Schnee abc
        snow Schnee xyz
        snow Schnee hijk

        Think of that example with even more languages (the matrix is infinte).

        In short: I think there is no way except a XML file to import real multi lingual terminology into MultiTerm. Poor result for a tool priced as SDLs tools are.

        • Jayne Fox

          I think you're right about the snow example. I don't think the matrix is infinite though. 🙂

          • Stromfahrer

            I have to manage terminology (over 3600 concepts) in 29 languages.
            Think of the “car” example. Each language would have 3 and more synonmys for that concept.

            The table from the first post would be a full funtional solution if MultiTerm could import it.

            The table as MultiTerm requires it would have 29^3 (and more) = 24389 lines just for the single concept of a car to show each combination from every languages perspective.

            If every concept would have at least one synonym or addional forbidden entry in every language, the matrix would have 3800 times 29^2 = 3,000,000 entries.

            Thats „nearly infite“ if you think of Excel. 😉

          • Jayne Fox

            Mind-boggling and Excel-crashing!

  5. Sharmila

    if the there are mor than one translated terms for a source term. Can we have them in separate rows with same concept id (because a target language cell can have one term alone in a row). If a termbase i created with such entry will the target language will have both translated terms?

    Concept ID EN FR
    001 CAR dajkjkhj
    001 jksjdsao

  6. Steve Pastorello

    Jayne, I don't who you are or where you are ... but may I simply say THANK YOU! I've just bought SDL Studio 2014 and I was totally lost today. Thanks to your notes I'm begining to understand this incredibly complex program. The trouble is that SDL don't provide any guidance or assistance ... unless you pay for it I suppose
    . I've been using computers for about 20 years but I've never seen anything like this ... I think it's totally crazy. Thank God there are people like you about. I was thinking of abandoning this program regardless of what I had to pay for it.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks so much for your feedback, Steve, I'm glad you've found these instructions useful and aren't going to give up on the software! Starting out with Studio can be hard work, but it gets a lot easier once you've found your way through some of these tricky procedures.

  7. Haru Yun

    Hi Jayne,
    I've just tried the SDL Trados 2011 and luckily found your instruction. I followed every step and successfully created a new termbase. You have no ideal how thankful I am. Thanks so much! But when I press F3 to add a new entry, there's just a plank page. There's no column or row at all. I've tried all over again and again to create several termbases but nothing's changed. I'm desperated. Please help me!
    Thank you!

    • Jayne Fox

      I'm glad to hear you were able to follow the instructions and create a new termbase, that's great. I assume you're now trying to add a term in MultiTerm (not Trados Studio). To add a term in MultiTerm, you have to have the termbase open in MultiTerm. To open the termbase, Click the Termbase menu and click Open Termbase. You should be able to browse to the right termbase and open it. You can then use F3 to add a term. If this still doesn't work, I suggest you contact Paul Filkin on Twitter:

  8. Xavier González Alonso

    Dear Jayne
    Many of us provide support on the web, but your Blogtorial is definitely outstanding. I have 2 days using Trados and could create and use a key Termbase in less than 20 minutes thanks to your clear, short and targeted approach to sharing knowledge... Many, many thanks!

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your kind comment, Xavier, I'm glad to hear that you're up and running with Studio and MultiTerm!

  9. Vicente

    Jayne, Thank you, very informative and useful article.
    Wordfast is great at glossaries, but SDL has come up to speed as well.
    It's a petty that it uses Java for termbase 🙁

  10. Ibrahim

    Dear Jayne,
    Thanks for the information, I was able to follow your instruction until adding the language pair I wish to add my term-base. My language pair is English into Somali, now Somali language is not included here. What will you do in this situation? Your response is much appreciated?

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Ibrahim, I had a look in MultiTerm and did not see Somali listed. You could contact Paul Filkin about this through Twitter. He works for SDL and may be able to help.

  11. Jiri

    Hi Jayne,

    Following your instruction, I ended up getting an error message that ultimately led me to a SDL support message saying: "This video starting at minute 2:00 will show you where you went wrong:
    Basically in short, you need to use the *.xdt file resulting from your conversion process to create the termbase, not the default proposed by MultiTerm.
    Else the Termbase won't match your data."

    Beginning around minute 2:00 of the recording, it explains to use "Load an existing termbase definition file", which then leads to the .xdt file created during the conversion of the Excel database.
    (in contrast to your instruction to use the "Use a predefined termbase template".
    This fixed the error.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for the feedback, Jiri! I haven't come across that error so it's good to know how to deal with it. Thanks for passing on the details.

  12. Stephen

    Hi Jayne, I think we became Twitter friends a few months ago but I have been too busy to go on Twitter: I have been relaunching my translation career after more than 6 years of interruptions caused by the long illness and untimely death from cancer of my sister. She lived in London and I live in Liverpool so I was constantly travelling back and forth because her husband left her after the original diagnosis.
    i am trying to look to the future now and I want to finally get to grips with Termbase. I have never got it to work.
    The sample termbase which comes free with the program has "no input mode" whenever I have tried to add new terms there. i excitedly followed your instructions and imported a bile lingual file in the older Excel format. As soon as I tried to use the new termbase, however I got the "no Input mode" message again. do you have any idea what i might be doing wrong?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions,


    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Stephen, I haven't seen this message before. Are you getting the message in Studio or the separate MultiTerm application?
      In either case, have a look at these help sources for Studio and MultiTerm. If you can't find any info in the knowledge base, you could try the Yahoo group.

      • Stephen Old (@StephenOld)

        Hello again, Jayne, Thanks for replying to my question so long ago. Having got so close to creating a termbase or two, i have been working non-stop translating from pdfs! I have had to do it the old-fashioned way. I hope to have time tomorrow though to explore the links you have posted above.


  13. Vicky

    Dear Mrs Fox,

    First of all, I would like to thank for your help provided through your tutorials.

    Secondly, I would like to pose a question as far as SDL Multiterm 2011/SDL Trados Studio 2011 is concerned; I have created a project having its TM and its TB which as I translate, I update them. After couple days, I opened this unfinished project in order to finish it. I realized that the TB was inanctived so, I click on "Project" tab -> Project Settings -> Termbases where I reload the TB. As I reloaded it, a message appeared saying: "The default termbase has been changed so the indexes have been changed. Please check that the new indexes are correct". Despite I reloaded it near there was the "x" sign in red colour and as I move back to "Editor" tab I understood that the TB remains inactivated... I followed once again "Project" tab -> Project Settings -> Termbases where I reload not only the TB I want for my project but also, a second one TB irrelevant to my project. I realized that now both of them are activated by having next to them a checkmark and by returning to "Editor" tab I saw entries form my TB which means that is activated.

    Do you know the reason why this message appeared even if I haven't made any change to indexes (languages)?

    Also, it seems to be strange once I choose a second TB then both of them are activated, isn't?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Best regards,

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Vicky, don't worry about that message - it seems to be a bug! And all the active termbases will display under Project Settings -> Termbases. Just have another look at that screen if they don't seem to be right. Working with termbases takes a bit of practice but it sounds like you're doing all the right things - keep up the good work! 🙂

  14. Vicky

    Thank you for answer! 🙂

  15. Fathy Shehatto

    Hi Jayne Fox,
    It is very useful.Thanks for this great article and for your all great efforts.
    I have shared it but I forget to ask your approval first!
    Please let me know if this is ok!

    Fathy Shehatto

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your kind feedback - yes, that's fine! 🙂

  16. Joanna

    Hi Jayne,

    Thank you for such a wonderful and clear tutorial on MultiTerm. I am currently studying a Masters in Translation and for one assignment we have to create a bilingual termbase using MultiTerm. I am struggling to understand the impact of placing different fields on different levels in the entry structure.

    If Entry Level is the level that holds information that applies to the whole termbase entry, as I am just including one definition per term, would it be incorrect to place definition at Entry Level? Please may you explain why definition is placed at Index Level in the template?

    I would be infinitely grateful if you could offer me any advice and guidance on this matter,

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Joanna, thanks for your comment! For the bilingual termbase to work properly, you really need to follow the exact structure in the template. So just use the default settings on the Entry Structure screen for a bilingual glossary. Definition is listed as a descriptive field on this screen - just leave it where it is and it will be fine. The definition is at term level, as it's attached to the term. (I don't find the overall structure particularly logical either - I'm just glad it works!)

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German-to-English translator specialising in medical and technical translation and corporate communications
Welcome to my blog, Between Translations! I'm Jayne Fox, German-English translator specialising in sci-tech, health care & corporate communications.
I work with clients from around the world. From my location in New Zealand, I translate overnight for European customers.
See my websites for more information.
Sci-tech translation and corporate comms:
Medical translation:
Email: jayne(at)