How to import a bilingual Excel glossary into MultiTerm – for use in Trados Studio

August 30, 2012 by

How to import a bilingual Excel glossary into MultiTerm for use in Trados StudioIf you use Trados Studio, it’s a good idea to learn how to use MultiTerm to manage your terminology.

For example, you might want to use terms from a bilingual Excel glossary when you’re translating in Trados Studio. The PDF below shows how to use MultiTerm to do this.

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

The process might seem complicated and it takes a bit of time to set up your termbase initially – but once you’ve done it, it’s very easy to use the termbase in multiple projects. Then you can use term recognition within Studio to speed up your translations and improve your translation quality and consistency.

Before you begin, you’ll need to create a termbase in MultiTerm – there are instructions on how to do this here.

You can then follow the steps in the PDF below to convert and import a bilingual glossary from Excel.

I’ve explained the steps in MultiTerm2011 – and if you have the 2009 or 2014 version, the steps are almost identical, so you’ll still be able to follow them.

How to import a bilingual Excel glossary into MultiTerm

How to import a bilingual Excel glossary into MultiTerm

Dowload file (1 MB PDF)







Next, you might want to learn how to add the termbase to a project in Trados Studio, use term recognition to insert terms into your translation, and add new terms to your termbase as you translate.

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

You might also like:

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.

Facebook Twitter Google+ Xing 

Share this:


  1. Oliver Lawrence

    Hi Jayne,

    As a rider to this, anyone wanting to use a Trados Multiterm file as a WordFast glossary can do so thusly:

    - export the Multiterm file in XML (doesn't matter if has multiple languages)
    - open an Apsic Xbench project and add the export as an XML Multiterm glossary
    - still in Xbench, export as Tab-separated text file
    - in WordFast Classic, select that .txt file as the glossary, reorganise it
    - and relax 🙂


  2. Glossaries made easy… « multifarious

    [...] Convert and import a glossary from Excel from @jaynefox [...]

  3. paulfilkin

    Thanks Jayne... I actually just read this pdf for the first time and think you did a great job on this. I especially enjoyed the tea and a rest part at the end... it can indeed feel like that the first time you try it!

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks Paul. There is no longer any need to fear MultiTerm. 🙂

  4. Zoe F

    Thank you Jayne, these steps are brilliantly easy to follow, I wouldn't have known where to start without this!

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your kind feedback, Zoe!

  5. Richard Jacobs

    Well, tried it all, and there are consistently irregularities in the final step. I give up and do it the old fashioned way. No time for this. But thanks for the explanation!

  6. Judith

    Thanks for this very handy manual.
    First 1000 tries didn't work, something was wrong so 0 entries were imported. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
    Surprisingly, when I didn't check the Fast Import box it suddenly worked?! YAY! Thanks again 🙂

    • Jayne Fox

      Glad to hear it worked before the nervous breakdown kicked in. 🙂

  7. Rhonda

    Worked like a charm Jayne the first time around. Kudos!

  8. Huw

    Hi Jayne - thanks for the very handy manual. I found the section on the Index field and Descriptive field to be especially useful - I've fallen down at this stage many times in the past. I would like to add one tip I have found useful for avoiding the 0-entries-imported problem mentioned by Judith above, if I may. When working with a glossary in excel with a structure that contains descriptive fields in addition to the Index fields, I find it useful to create a whole new termbase from scratch. The first thing to do is convert the excel file as you explain. Once this is completed, a termbase definition file is automatically created and saved in xdt format. When creating your termbase ready for the import, select the "Load an existing termbase definition file" and browse for the xdt file. This then ensures the subsequent import of terms runs smoothly in nearly all cases. Obviously this only works for new termbases and not for importing a newly converted xml file into an existing termbase.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for the tip, that's good to know!

    • Angélica

      Thank you so much, Huw! I was going nuts with those errors, but your suggestion worked perfectly! =D. And many thanks to Jayne too, of course! Your tutorials are always a great help, ^^.

  9. Charles Simmonds

    Hi Jayne..this was a great help

    • Jayne Fox

      Glad to hear it! 🙂

  10. Tim

    Hi Jayne. I converted an xls file to an xml one. It said 1100 entries were successfully converted. Then I imported the xml file to multiterm by creating a new termbase. The file name appeared, but there is no trace of the terms/entries. Did I miss any step?


    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Tim, yes you definitely missed a step. 🙁 Just try again, and make sure you follow the instructions carefully - especially the step which tells you to be particularly careful. (Or download the Glossary Converter and use that.) 🙂

  11. Tim

    I did use the SDL MultiTerm 2011 Convert. And I opened the xml file and saw the entries were all there, converted. But there is none after the importation to MultiTerm 2011 Desktop, just a file name without contents in it.

    Why SDL is so so complicated and totally not user-friendly? I guess I may have to give it soon.

  12. Tim

    Hi Jayne,

    Fixed. Thank you. ^o^


    • Jayne Fox

      Glad you were able to sort it out! It can be very tricky the first time, but it's not too bad once you know how to do it. 🙂

  13. Stephen Old (@StephenOld)

    Hi Jayne, Did you get my message about getting the "no input mode" after I followed your instructions? I think I may have had some internet connection problems when I sent it.

    • Jayne Fox

      No, sorry, didn't get that one!

    • Jayne Fox

      Whoops, just got it now, will have a look.

  14. Robert Dunn

    Thank you very much for this very helpful guide! This guide, along with merging two different client glossary files into one, really saved me some time and is making the translation process a whole lot easier!

    • Jayne Fox

      Glad to hear it, Robert!

  15. alissa

    Hi Jayne,
    Your tutorial was very helpful! Thank you for the effort.
    I was able to create and upload one termbase following the instructions, but the next ones I tried each produced a termbase with just ONE entry. I started from scratch and am converting the excel glossaries in Converter (which is working find and showing me the number of entries it is converting), but when I get to Multiterm, I can´t import into the termbase I created for the glossary. I have deleted all files and started from scratch numerous times. I have followed the instructions to several tutorials to no avail. The termbase IS there and when I go to Catalog, it shows me all the information about it, BUT, I get NO information on the left-hand side with the option to import. When I go to the toolbar above and try that way, all of the options are gray and I can´t click them.

    I am so frustrated, I am about to take my file home to translate in Wordfast on my home computer. I am really lost as to why I can´t move beyond this step to import my glossary. Do you have any ideas on what to do? I am using version 2011. Thanks!

  16. Suzanne Smart

    Early on a Friday morning, I wasn't quite awake yet and had completely forgotten how to do this. Your guide led my sleepy head gently through the process in the most lovely way. Thank you!

  17. anbesnier

    Hello Jayne
    I tried the different steps above for an existing glossary and I didn't manage to import the terms into the glossary.
    When I look at the SDL documentation, it says to load the termbase definition (glossary.xdt) before importing the glossary content (glossary.mtf.xml). This is fine for a newly created glossary(it works!) but I don't know how to proceed for the termbase definition when working with an existing glossary.
    Any hints would be highly appreciated 🙂

    • Jayne Fox

      One option would be to export the existing glossary to Excel, add the new terms, create a new termbase and import everything. Might work!

  18. Miloš Jovanović

    Dear Jayne,
    thanks to you, I have created my first termbase from my Excel-file and assigned it to the project. I also made new entries! The step by step tutorial helps so much for the very beginners. The first attempt failed, but the solution came from the training course manual. I see in comments above, that some colleagues had the same problem, even a year ago.
    Important note for beginners: If the bilingual glossary in Excel-file, in language source and target columns, contains in some rows more than one word, like synonyms, or verb and noun entries, which are then separated by comma or semicolon, ALL those signs have to be replaced by the sign "|" which is not the upper case letter "i" but the uppercase keypad \. This does not affect the description columns. The so amended Excel-file is now ready to be converted and imported step by step as you described.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for passing on that tip, Miloš, it makes sense! Exports from MultiTerm use the same character as a separator.

  19. D.J. Prevatt

    Thanks Jayne!
    I just purchased Trados Studio 2015 and your instructions work fine for that too. Your instructions are very clear - so perfect for me. Your page comes up at the top of the google search for help creating termbases in Trados. All the best.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for the feedback!

  20. J. Derlachter

    Thanks so much for posting this! You helped me a lot 🙂

  21. Rob

    Does not work! The sdltb file opens in studio but no term appears in the termbase window when available in segment.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hmmm, that doesn't sound right. Were you able to fix this?

Leave a Comment

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)