Translating a file in SDL Trados Studio

7 min read

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Opening an individual document for translation

To open a document for translation in SDL Trados Studio, perform the following steps:

  1. In any view, choose File | Open | Translate Single Document or press Ctrl + Shift + O. Browse to the file that you want to open for translation, select it, and click Open.

    Alternatively, you can open a file using drag and drop. You must be in the Editor view to do this. Drag the file from Windows Explorer into the Navigation pane, shown in the following screenshot:

  2. In the Open Document window, shown in the following screenshot, select the desired Source Language and Target Language. If you are using the sample file, please choose English (US) as your source language and a language of your choice as your target language.
  3. Select one or more TMs by clicking Add and browsing to select an existing TM. You can also choose to create a new TM at this point by clicking Create (choose New File-based Translation Memory, specify a Name and Location for the file, and click Finish). If you are working with our sample file, please create or select a TM of your own at this point. The following screenshot shows the Open Document window after we add the TM:

    For any other settings, click the Advanced button at the bottom-left corner of the window.

  4. Click OK to open the document for translation in the side-by-side editor.

Translating in the side-by-side editor

The side-by-side editor is made up of five columns, numbered in the following screenshot:

At the top left is a tab showing the name of the active document. The numbers in circles represent the following:

  • Column 1: The segment number.
  • Column 2: The source text, divided into segments when you open the file for translation.
  • Column 3: The segment status and translation origin, indicating what work you have done on each segment at any given point in time, and where the match came from. The icons have the following meanings:

  • Column 4: Where you type the translation.
  • Column 5: Information to indicate the context of each segment within the structure of the original document. For example, in the sample file, the H in Segment 1 shows that the text is formatted as a heading in the original MS Word document.

To find out what the icons in the segment status column and the information in the document structure column mean, move your mouse pointer over that part of the segment to display a tool tip or click on it for more detailed information.

Translating the text

  1. To begin translating, click in the first target segment and type the translation. As soon as you start typing, the status symbol changes from (Not Translated) to (Draft), showing that you have edited the segment but not stored it in the TM yet, as shown in the following screenshot. Segment 1 of the sample file is a heading, as indicated by the letter H on the right. Notice that the visual formatting of the text as displayed by SDL Trados Studio is replicated when you type the translation.

  2. When you are happy with your translation, press Ctrl + Enter to store the translated segment in the TM and move to the next segment that needs translating (pressing Enter alone has no effect). Alternatively, in the Home tab, click the Confirm button, shown on the left of the following screenshot:

    This action is generally described as confirming the segment. The status symbol changes from (Draft), to (Translated) to indicate that the segment has been confirmed. Segments that you translate or edit must be confirmed in this way, or they will not be stored in the TM.

    The default confirm action (Ctrl + Enter) actually moves you to the next unconfirmed segment, skipping any confirmed segments in between. To show more options for confirming segments, as shown in the preceding screenshot, click the drop-down arrow under the Confirm button.

    To go to the next segment down, whether confirmed or not, choose Confirm and Move to Next Segment (Ctrl + Alt + Enter). If you are translating a file that produces lots of 100% matches that you do not wish to check immediately, choose Confirm and Translate until Next Fuzzy Match (Ctrl + Alt + F). You will then move down the bilingual file, automatically confirming any 100% matches, and only stopping at the next match that is less than 100%.

  3. Now translate and confirm Segment 2. This moves you into Segment 3, which is a fuzzy or partial match as indicated by the figure 82% in the following screenshot:

Typing accented characters

The ability to type accented characters in SDL Trados Studio is dependent on the keyboard settings in MS Windows, as with any other application that you might run on MS Windows. If you are using an English language keyboard and want to type accented characters in the target segment, you can use the Alt codes (such as Alt + 0233 for é). It is also possible to change the keyboard to follow the target language layout, via the Control Panel in MS Windows.

The Translation Results window

Whenever you move into a new segment (as from Segment 2 to Segment 3), the TM (or TMs if more than one is active) are searched for matches, and the highest match appears in the target segment (this action is called Lookup). If a match is found, the results are displayed in the Translation Results window, and an icon appears in the segment status column in the side-by-side editor to show the match level. By default, if no matches are found, the target segment remains empty, and the Translation Results window displays the text No matches found.

The Translation Results window displays the text in the current segment in the white area at the top, and any match from the TM underneath it, as shown in the following screenshot. The blue and red text in the source segment indicates the words that need to be added to and deleted from the new segment compared to the match from the TM (in a similar form to that used in Track Changes in MS Word). In this case, for example, we need to add quite long and delete short in the translation.

Edit the target segment to make the translation correct, and then confirm. When you edit and confirm the segment, the fuzzy match icon changes to a transparent background, as shown in the following screenshot. Notice that the fuzzy match value remains even after you confirm the segment. Thus, the percentage values displayed always indicate the value of the match as originally offered by the TM (the translation origin).

Inserting matches from the TM

The following screenshot shows the sample file before we edit and confirm Segment 4:

Each match in the Translation Results window has a number, as shown on the left of the following screenshot. As you will see when you get to Segment 4 (which we will now edit and confirm) the highest match (with the number 1 in the column on the left) is automatically inserted whenever you move into an empty target segment.

To insert a different match instead, press Ctrl and the numbers on the main keyboard. For example, to insert match number 2, press Ctrl + 2.

To insert the match currently highlighted in blue in the Translation Results window, click the Apply Translation button or choose Home | Apply Translation (Ctrl + T). You can also scroll the list of matches to insert other matches via the Select Previous Match (Alt + Pg Up) and Select Next Match (Alt + Pg Dn) buttons.

Notice that the yellow bar at the bottom of the Translation Results window shows the name of the TM providing the match in the segment that is highlighted in blue, as in the preceding screenshot.


In this article we learned the basic process of opening a document in SDL Trados Studio and translating it. We opened an individual document for translation and translated it in side-b-side editor.

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