How to work with multiple termbases in Trados Studio

August 25, 2014 by

How to work with multiple termbases in Trados StudioSome people collect medals, coins or stamps – I collect termbases. I find that a good termbase or glossary is an essential tool to keep translations consistent and correct. But rather than referencing just one termbase, in a single project, I often work with five to ten. Here are some tips on using multiple termbases in Trados Studio.

MultiTerm termbases in Trados Studio

If you translate using Trados Studio, it’s essential to know how to work with MultiTerm termbases. To start off, you might want a quick refresher on using MultiTerm in Studio. Here’s how to:

You can follow these instructions in Trados Studio 2009, 2011 or 2014.

Why use multiple termbases?

I find it can be handy to have a termbase for each client, as well as termbases for each of your specialist fields or sub-fields. You can add as many of these termbases to a project as you like, and the terms will be recognised as you translate.

Adding multiple termbases to a project

To add multiple termbases, click the Termbase icon above the Term Recognition window and repeat the steps to add a termbase to a project.

MultiTerm termbases in Trados Studio - termbase icon

Which termbase for new terms?

The first termbase added to a project is the default termbase. Any new terms that you add on the fly will be added to this termbase.

To check which termbase is the default termbase, click the Termbase icon above the Term Recognition window (see above). The Project Settings dialogue box displays. This lists the termbases, with the default termbase at the top of the list.

MultiTerm termbases in Trados Studio Project Settings

Changing the default termbase

To change the default termbase, click the Termbase icon to display the Project Settings dialogue box (see above).

Click the termbase that you want to set as the default termbase, and then click Set Default.

MultiTerm termbases in Trados Studio - Project Settings - change default

Result: the new default termbase moves to the top of the list, followed by “(default)” and displayed in bold. An information message also displays.

MultiTerm termbases in Trados Studio - Project Settings - default changed

Click OK on the message and OK on the Project Settings dialogue box.

Any terms that you add in Studio will be added to the default termbase that you have chosen.

Adding a term to a different termbase

If you want to add a term to a different termbase, you will first need to set it as the default termbase (see above). You can then add the term and, if necessary, reset the default termbase.

Now you know how to manage multiple termbases in Trados Studio. I hope you’ll enjoy building up a valuable collection!

More coming up

In future blog posts, I’ll look at using MultiTerm to export a termbase from MultiTerm to MS Excel and other formats.

I’ll also be adding blog posts on a variety of CPD resources for translators.

How about you?

Do you use MultiTerm? How easy do you find managing terminology in Trados Studio?

Let me know in the comments below!

Please note that I do not have a commercial relationship with any of the organisations mentioned above.

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. Anna Kaneloglou (@english2greek)

    Hi, Jayne!
    Very useful post, as always 🙂
    I have the following question: I heard some people who useTrados say that it is better to have all your glossaries in one file (i.e. one termbase) and not separate glossaries, in order to make your life easier when you translate. I just started using Trados (2014 version), so I would really appreciate your opinion on this.
    Many thanks,

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Anna, I would aim to have one termbase per subject field, and I would also have one termbase for each regular customer. I find this works better than just one big termbase, as it enables you to add different translations for the same term for different fields/customers, with different reference info or notes. Having one big termbase works well at first, but can become a bit of a jumble after a while. However, if you have lots of Excel glossaries for the same field, it's worth considering whether to combine these into one termbase. You can work with as many termbases as you like in Trados, but it's easier to work with 5 to 10 rather than 50 to 60!

  2. Elisabeth Meyn

    Very useful, thank you. My question is: How can I see which termbase the individual terms belong to?

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Elisabeth, have a look at the Term Recognition window. If it doesn't display the termbase name, click the Hitlist Settings button (second from the right, at the top of that window). Play around with the settings on the new window that displays (try 'Show termbase'). Hope that helps!

  3. Charles Aschmann

    Hi Jayne,

    Thanks for the informative post. I always use multiple termbases. I am frustrated by one quality of Trados 2015. In parallel display mode, the order of termbases for each term seems to be random. Is there some way to make Trados display each term with the termbases in the order I have them in the Project Settings? Right now in any given hit list they are sometimes in that order, sometimes in other orders, with no consistency I can find.

    • Jayne Fox

      I find this a bit random, too, but haven't discovered how to change it. Let me know if you find out!

  4. Susan

    Great article! I have a long-term project that has separate termbases for each language (a long story about why it developed that way). When I'm adding all 22 termbases to my project template, I'm forced to pick a default template. Is there a way to avoid choosing a default termbase? Having Danish as the default termbase is not going to help the Hungarian translator very much. Is there any way around this?

    • Jayne Fox

      Hmmm, I don't see a good way around that. I guess each translator will need to change the default termbase. You could always set up some kind of 'special' or 'dummy' termbase as the default, but the translators would still need to change it before they start working. Otherwise, could you consider combining the termbases into one mega multi-language default termbase?

  5. Kamal

    Thank you Jayne for the helpful post. Actually it was helpful as it made me certain that there is no way to accord terms to different termbases in a simple manner (I always thought that there is an easy way to assign terms to a termbase other than the default termbase, a way I had no knowledge of), but now I know that this is another one of those troublesome features of SDL.

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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)