Translating with SDL Trados Studio: should you learn how to use MultiTerm?

August 7, 2012 by

How to use MultiTermRumour has it that the majority of translators who use Trados don’t use MultiTerm. This may be because some translators find it a bit complicated to use, or because the concordance within Trados can be useful enough for looking up terms.

However, a good termbase is a great asset and can save a lot of time. Once it’s set up it’s easy to add terms as you translate. If any of the saved terms are in the source text, MultiTerm will recognise these and display them for quick insertion into the target text. This means that the terminology in the translation will be consistent, increasing the translation quality.

If you have a glossary in Excel, you can also convert and import this into MultiTerm, so that the terms will be recognised as you translate within Trados. Again, it’s very easy to insert the terms into your translation.

In future posts I’ll explain how to:

In a related post I'll also cover: The quick way to convert glossaries and termbases between Excel and MultiTerm.

As you can see there are a few things to learn, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the increased speed, quality and consistency in your translations.

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. Pierre

    Good post Jayne. I agree with you, glossaries are handy to ensure that terminology remains consistent - when it needs to be consistent, of course.

    One minor point though: why just Trados? I mean the principle of converting an Excel file into a glossary is roughly the same for every computer assisted translation software, isn't it? Don't sell us SDL, give us the principles behind CAT tools. We are human translators, not just marketing targets 😉

    Keep up the good work!

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks Pierre, yes you're right, the principle is the same. I use Trados so I can only write in detail about that, and this post is an introduction to a series of posts with the detailed processes. That's why it's focused on MultiTerm in particular. Perhaps that will make more sense once the rest of the series is online.

  2. Pierre

    Great, thanks Jayne!

  3. Thomas

    When I was in the loc biz with a large MS vendor (I exited 2007 so can't speak for today) we always found Multi Term way too complicated. We preferred Master TMs created by project files that logically were connected in some way or other. Like all Windows Server files, all Windows client files, etc.

    That was good enough for us and the client back then. And when I look at the translations today that Microsoft creates, not much seems to be different. Other than that Machine Translation is probably used more often... 🙂

  4. Marinus Vesseur

    Good idea. MultiTerm is very useful, although I would consider it the least intuitive program that I know - particularly getting your termbases OUT of MultiTerm is hard and about as pleasant a having a tooth pulled - I am pretty sure that this is by design, too, which disqualifies SDL when it comes to trustworthiness, I find.
    Generally MultiTerm has become a lot easier to handle with Studio - the term suggestions while-u-write are incredibly helpful (if it works, which it doesn't always do - a restart usually solves that).
    I agree that termbase creation and maintenance in the most commonly used CAT tools is an interesting topic, but that it would be wise for us as translators to avoid endorsing Trados (or SDL Studio) as the standard. SDL is not the kind of company that is to be trusted with a monopoly - I believe that greed is on the top of their priority list.
    Even so, MultiTerm is a useful tool and any tips are welcome.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your comment Marinus - yes, I can understand why people don't use it. Which is such a shame, because if you already use Trados, MultiTerm will add such a lot. And that's why I'm writing about it.

  5. [...] be put to good use, a Termbase is always a good idea (follow @jaynefox to see why as she is writing some blogs on this subject) and because her language pairs are flavours of common languages there are also [...]

  6. Bob

    Jayne Fox "You write about it" because "it add such a lot".

    No, you write about it because, as everybody else, you are paid for your work which is sales promotion.

    Explain how those tools work, but please, avoid commercial propaganda (repetition and fake innocence).

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Bob, thanks for you comment - it would be great to be paid for writing my blog posts - but I'm not! Instead, I have to pay SDL to use their software. I'm writing about MultiTerm because I find it pretty shocking that so many Trados users don't use MultiTerm. And why don't they use it? Because they find it too hard. I'm a former software trainer so I enjoy helping others learn how to use new tools - which is all I'm doing here.

  7. Jane

    Hi Jayne,
    Thank you very much for sharing posts on MultiTerm! I will be most appreciative if you could help me with the questions on this product.
    For freelance translators, what are some typical specific needs in terminology management and translation? And how MultiTerm meets or does not meet their requirements? Thank you!

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Jane, the main need is for consistent terminology throughout translation projects for a particular customer. MultiTerm meets this need pretty well. We also need to import glossaries from Excel, which is possible in MultiTerm. The Glossary Converter can be useful for this function too.

      • Jane

        Thank you for replying so soon! I guess it also depends on the reusability of a translator's work and whether his/her major clients are using MultiTerm. It seems MultiTerm is a bit complicated for translators, for I found many netizens said it's not so user-friendly on translation forum. But I think if someone uses Trados and can afford MultiTerm, it is worth having one and spend some time to learn how to use it. Do you think it is easy to creat a termbase with MultiTerm? Do you still recommand this product if a freelance translator who is not using Trados? Thank you in advance!

        • Jayne Fox

          Hi Jane, I think MultiTerm is easy when you know how. 🙂 Here are some posts with instructions on how to use it:

          If you're interested in using MultiTerm, I would seriously consider buying Trados Studio as it is included in the package. Otherwise it would depend on what other software you're using, e.g. memoQ has its own terminology features.

          • Jane

            Thank you for the link! Since there's no trial of MultiTerm and I have never used any CAT tools, it seems abstract to me when I watch those videos or instructioins from blog. I found SDL's product introduction is confusing. I've sent them emails yesterday, waiting for answers. Don't know when I will get reply. One of my questions is that whether MultiTerm widget is a component of MultiTerm Desktop or Extract.

          • Jayne Fox

            Hi Jane, if you want to use MultiTerm to help with translation, it would be a good idea to look at CAT tool options first, such as Trados Studio, memoQ, Wordfast Classic etc, before making a decision about MultiTerm. You could also look at Wordfast Anywhere, which is a free online CAT tool.

          • Jane

            Thank you for introducing me the wonderful website! I guess you also have the MultiTerm Extract right? It seems to me that the MultiTerm Desktop and MultiTerm Extract should be used together, though I am not sure if a translator really need the MultiTerm Extract.

          • Jayne Fox

            I don't have MultiTerm Extract - it would be handy at times, though!

  8. David B. Kim

    As a novice user of Trados 2011, I really appreciate your introduction of how to use SDL MultiTerm and that will be very helpful to me. Good health and fortune to you!

  9. Translations with Chemistry

    Hi Jayne! I found this article while doing a search on how to use the Multiterm widget! I recently bought Trados and plan to get to know all it can do so I can use it to its fullest. I bookmarked this series which is just what I'm looking for. 🙂
    Thanks, Jane

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks, Jane, hope you find the articles useful. I find MultiTerm very handy and would hate to be without my termbases!

  10. Translations with Chemistry

    Hi again! I am seriously considering buying Multiterm Extract, as there is a special deal for Latin American residents running for the next few days. I wonder whether you think this would be a useful addition to my Trados setup at half the normal price? I'm reading mixed reviews online and wondered if you had any insight here. Thanks, Jane

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Jane, I don't have MultiTerm Extract but would be very keen on a terminology extraction tool. So I can't give any specific feedback, sorry - however, you could research alternative terminology extraction tools online and see whether MultiTerm Extract would be the right one for you. Let me know if you get it!

  11. Translations with Chemistry

    Thanks Jayne,

    I probably will buy it, but as a long-term investment/toy (!) for me to figure out whenever I have a bit of time to tinker with it. Sorely tempted.

    I used various term extraction tools earlier in the year, none impressed me all that much and I suspect Multiterm Extract will be much of a muchness. It's the integration with Multiterm and Trados that is part of the attraction for me.

    Although, paying a little over half price and then not using it would be a false economy. 😉

  12. Vadim Kadyrov

    Well, I use the application only when I have a termbase provided by the client, which is not the best scenario. My experience tells me that most termbases provided by my clients contained numerous mistakes, several translations of one term, etc. Anyway, Multiterm helps much when the text contains dozens of the same terms on every page - e.g., names of buttons in a software manual, etc. You just pull out the right term from this short list, which is much easier and faster in comparison to concordance search. In other words, it all depends on the terminology "density" of the text.

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)