Doubt about how to use Translation Memories (Trados SDL 2015)
Thread poster: javierxp

Sep 5, 2016

I am starting with Trados, and I am trying to translate an example file. My problem is I don't understand very well how to use and what is the exact function of the Translation Memories.

I have a translation file...

Translation file:


Fine. When I double click on it, SDL Trados open, and if I go to the Editor, I see the text in English, and I have to the right side the spanish column to be translated, empty, of course.


Also, I have a translation memory. It is a .sdltm file.

Translation memory:


When I am in Trados, I go to the Translation Memories button, which is below the Editor button (on the left), and there I open the translation memory file: ORIGIN_LANGUAGE_TARGET_LANGUAGE.sdltm

When I do that... the translation memory load, and I see two columns...

The first column on the left side, is in English (with words in English) and the second column is in Spanish (the words in English are translated to Spanish in this column)

The translation memory has 85 rows... every row has an English word or phrase that is translated to spanish in the right column.

My question about the translation memory is the following:

What is the exact function of the translation memory? Provide me a guide of how a term should be translated, instead other possible translations?

It won't translate anything automatically, right?

It only help the translator showing the words in English and also translated in the target langauge (Spanish) so it can be a guide about how certain terms must be translated, instead other possible translations (variations).

Is this right?

I'd appreciate your help, because I am a bit new with Trados.


Roy Oestensen  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:38
Member (2010)
English to Norwegian (Bokmal)
+ ...
You want to attach the translation memory to the project you are working in Sep 5, 2016

In the Files pane (below Project and above Reports in the menu) you choose the sdlxliff file you will be working with (you could also open the actual project in the Project pane, but as you chose to have Studio create the project for you, I think it's safer to use the Files menu).

To the very left in the ribbon you see a large button called Project Settings. Click on it.

Choose Language Pairs > All languages > Translation memory and Automated translation

(Or Language Pairs > (your language combination) > Translation memory and Automated translation)

In the right pane, towards the top, you would click on the Add button > File based Translation memory...

Browse to wherever your translation memory is on your harddisk > Open

And then you should be set.

When you open the sdlxliff file for translation (by opening it in the Editor view) you will be shown hits in the top left fields from the Translation memory. If they are interesting, you choose the one you want and hit Apply Translation (Ctr+T) It is the rightmost button in the ribbon just below - Translation results (leftmost button is Project Settings, just to the right of Editor).

Hope this helps you on your way.


Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:38
German to English
More basic question Sep 6, 2016

It actually sounds like your main question is not directly related to Trados but is a more basic one: What is a translation memory?

CAT tools have two major "aids" attached to projects that enable more consistent and faster translation: the term base and the translation memory (there are also other things like a corpus, but let's leave those out of the picture for now).

The term base you can think of as your dictionary. Term bases can be printed out as csv files that, when they're cleaned up, can look something like this:
English German Spanish
house Haus casa

You can set up different term bases for different clients since some clients have specific terminology they want. I translate a lot for German universities, and the head of the university in Germany is usually called the "Rektor." Some universities have chosen to translate that as "Rector" while others prefer "President." That means for University A I have a term base that has the translation "President" for "Rektor." When the word "Rektor" shows up in the text, then in the right-hand window I'll get the suggestion "President." For University B I have a term base set up that has the translation "Rector" for "Rektor." When the word "Rektor" shows up in a text that I'm translating for University B and I have University B's term base assigned to the project, then I'll get "Rector" as a suggestion.
You can also include all sorts of additional information in the term bases (context, when to use translation A as opposed to translation B, definitions, references, etc.) that will show up when you take a closer look at the entry that pops up when you're translating.

A translation memory (TM), on the other hand, saves the segments you have translated and confirmed. That means if you have the sentence
"Mein Haus ist blau."
and you translate it as "My house is blue." then that is what is saved in the TM. Let's say later you have the exact same sentence "Mein Haus ist blau." The TM will suggest it as a 100% match, meaning that it exactly matches another segment you have already translated and confirmed. There's no need for you to find the previous segment and see whether you translated "Haus" as "house" or maybe "home" or "residence." The TM shows you how you translated it last time, which is a God send when it comes to consistency in repetitive texts.

Maybe there's another segment that says "Mein Haus ist gelb." In that case, the TM will suggest "My house is blue" but only as an 85% match (I'm just guessing on the percentage - there are lots of different factors that go in to how the CAT tools calculate the percentage). That's called a "fuzzy" match which means you've already translated a similar segment, but it's not identical so you're probably going to have to change something. In this case, the translation should be "My house is yellow."

And that's how a TM works. It saves entire segments (usually sentences) and suggests them to you when they show up again.


Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:38
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
A couple of blog posts Sep 6, 2016

You might find it useful to read these two blog posts:

How to translate your very first file in SDL Trados Studio 2014 (also relevant for Studio 2015)

What’s a CAT tool? What’s a TM (translation memory)?


Ekaterina Kroumova  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:38
French to Bulgarian
+ ...
SDL webinars Sep 6, 2016

Hi Javier,

I highly recommend you to join a couple of SDL webinars, they are very informative. Here are the webinars for September:

You can watch Youtube videos as well, just search for them in your favourite search engine (e.g. translation memory SDL Studio 2015).

And finally, in Studio, under the Welcome tab on the left (the one with the house), you have a Get Started section with a couple of videos. These should answer most of your questions.


United Kingdom
Local time: 06:38
More materials Sep 6, 2016

Hi Javier,

In addition to other suggestions, I would also like to share the following PDF Guides - which are also very useful and completely Free -

Translation Memory Management Quick Start Guide:

Studio Guide:

Hope it helps,



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