A good, easy, free tool for a smallish glossary for long novel?
Thread poster: Anne Woodall

Anne Woodall
Local time: 02:11
Italian to English
+ ...
Jul 26, 2015

Hello Everyone,

Over the past year I've been translating a long novel that's been a real labor of love (don't worry, also getting paid for it) as I have another full-time job. It's the first time I've ever translated something of this length (+400 pgs) and as I reach the end I realize how much I need a glossary to maintain consistency, something that can be easily consulted by the author who I will be working closely with on the editing/revising process. For the moment some of the place and character names, appellations, terms, which expressions to leave in source language, etc etc are still up for discussion.

I have not used any CAT tools before though I have some familiarity with how they work. So my question: is there any free or free trial software that can help me compile and apply a glossary, that doesn't take a long time to learn how to use? Otherwise I foresee a very painstaking manual process...but before I get started with that I just wanted to look into any easy tools that may be available.



esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:11
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
What do you need actually? Jul 26, 2015

I fail to understand the question. If you use a CAT program, use its glossary capability. If you need a list of words with respective translations, virtually any text editor/word processor/spreasheet/database program is good, it’s just a matter of taste and habit.

Well, if you use Microsoft Excel, try Wörterbuch, an Excel add-on allowing to maintain a 2-to-6 language dictionary (the file contains a description of its features).


United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Why don't you... Jul 26, 2015

just use a pen and paper? Or a table in Word?

[Edited at 2015-07-26 22:06 GMT]


Meta Arkadia
Local time: 08:11
English to Indonesian
+ ...
The high-tech way Jul 27, 2015

philgoddard wrote:
just use a pen and paper?

Exactly. Especially for a novel. I can imagine term consistency being crucial for a computer manual, but for a novel?
Anyway, say if you want to check the names in the novel, here’s the high-tech approach:

  • Download and install Andras’ free and phenomenal LF_Aligner, and align the original text with your translation. Save as a TMX file.It may take some time, and you’ll have to check the result, but it will then allow you to see the original novel next to your translation on sentence level:


  • Download and install the free version of CafeTran to open it. This version is limited, but good enough for this purpose.

  • Download and install AntConc to create a list of all words in the original novel, but be sure to “deduct” so-called “stopwords.” You can download them here.

  • You will now be confronted with a list that’s still huge, so you’ll have to check “manually” which words may cause problems. For example, you can filter on capital letters to get all the names in the novel.

  • Run CafeTran, drop your TMX file on the Dashboard, select “Edit TMX Memory,” and add a Memory for terms. Use the list created in the previous step to search for a term, and add it with its correct translation to the memory. Perform a QA for terms consistency. Since the free version of CafeTran is limited to 500 terms, you may have to repeat this process several times.

    It’s quite possible other free CAT tools (OmegaT?) can do the same thing without the 500 terms restriction, but I’m afraid I don’t know.

    Useful? For a novel, I have my doubts. But it can be fun. Maybe.




  • Takkim  Identity Verified
    Local time: 02:11
    Member (2013)
    English to Japanese
    + ...
    I would also like to know Jul 27, 2015

    I have also translated a few books and I understand your problem.
    I am not very familiar with CAT tool myself, and so far for the purpose you mention, I have only used Microsoft Excel. Whenever problematic words appear, I manually open the list and check there (I also sometime resort to pen and paper 😊). I would be interested to know any other way, but from what I know about normal CAT tools, I don't think they fit to your requirement.


    Stanislav Okhvat
    Local time: 04:11
    English to Russian
    Using an Excel glossary Jul 27, 2015

    Hello, Anne,

    I would agree with Takkim, it's far easier to use an Excel glossary in your specific case.

    Since searching in Excel is not always convenient, you can use a free tool called Glossary Search which makes it very easy to search any Excel glossary from Excel or from any application (by selecting a word or phrase and pressing a key combination). Glossary Search is part of TransTools for Excel, an Excel add-in for translators.

    Best regards,
    Stanislav Okhvat
    TransTools – Useful tools for every translator


    neilmac  Identity Verified
    Local time: 02:11
    Spanish to English
    + ...
    Old school Jul 27, 2015

    philgoddard wrote:

    just use a pen and paper? Or a table in Word?

    [Edited at 2015-07-26 22:06 GMT]

    Yep. A table in Word is usually my first choice, as the simplest option.


    Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 01:11
    Member (2012)
    French to English
    CAT tool glossary Jul 27, 2015

    If you had used a CAT tool while translating the novel, you could have compiled a glossary as you went along, by adding terms to the database. I don't know if any tool exists that can perform this task retrospectively.


    Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
    Local time: 02:11
    German to English
    OmegaT would have been helpful Jul 27, 2015

    I use Wordfast Classic, which is an MS Word plug-in and costs around 300 EUR, I think, for a three-year license.
    OmegaT is a freeware CAT that I think works very similarly, except that you have to work with Open Office (but that is unlikely to cause any issues in working with a novel).
    If you had used one of these tools while translating, you could have used the glossary function (to create a list of terms and phrases as you go) as well as the concordance function (to quickly look up how you had previously translated a given word). I also find having the source and target displayed together in one window very helpful for editing.

    After the fact, it would be somewhat complicated and probably very unproductive to convert everything into a TM (translation memory) and build up a glossary. Like everyone else, I think the only really reasonable solution is build up a glossary in Excel or an MS Word table and then use MS Word's "find and replace" function to do the semi-automated dirty work.


    Didier Briel  Identity Verified
    Local time: 02:11
    Member (2007)
    English to French
    + ...
    OmegaT can work with .docx Jul 27, 2015

    Michael Wetzel wrote:
    OmegaT is a freeware CAT that I think works very similarly, except that you have to work with Open Office

    OmegaT can read directly Word (.docx) documents so OpenOffice is not specifically needed.

    There is a CAT tool working as a an add-on to OpenOffice, it's called Anaphraseus:



    Anne Woodall
    Local time: 02:11
    Italian to English
    + ...
    Thanks! Jul 27, 2015

    Hi, and thanks for the suggestions!

    I think this just confirms what I probably knew and have started something with excel.


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