As a translation professional, you may be dealing with an increase in business. The reason is that many organizations and individuals need their documents, content, and more translated from one language into another. With more work on your hands, ensuring the quality and accuracy of your translations may be challenging.
One way to make your life and work a bit easier is to use CAT tools. Many translation companies rely on CAT tools to facilitate their translation process. The result is better and more accurate translations for their clients. Translation professionals also find they can do more work faster than ever when using translation tools.
In this article, we discuss CAT tools and how they can make translation work more efficient and effective.
Table of Contents
What are CAT Tools?
CAT stands for “Computer-Assisted Translation Tool.” These are software tools that help linguists and human translators with the process of language translation. They’re some of the best tools for translation available. A CAT tool works to generate machine translations; they offer different sets of features that work to improve the quality of each translation.
How do these tools work? Most CAT tools usually work by segmenting the source text and presenting each segment (such as a sentence) in a visual manner. They generally use a format that shows the source text on the left and the translated text on the right. This helps translators work on each segment, rather than the entire text at once. They work section by section without having to work with the entire text simultaneously.
Once the segments have been translated, the CAT tool works to “stitch” the content back together. That means the translated text is placed in the same order as the original. The work is done in the same format as the original text.
These best tools for translation can be accessed in the cloud or as desktop programs. They provide many benefits for translators, including the following:
- Consistency: translations are precise and maintain style and terminology in the content.
- Speed: customers can be served faster when the translator uses CAT tools
- Cost: it’s possible to reuse past translations, making the translation process more affordable for clients
- Quality: when a translator has more context, the translation is of higher quality
- Flexibility: CAT tools are flexible, with some based in the cloud and others on the desktop
The best features of CAT tools include the following:
- Translation Memory
- Terminology Management
- Quality Assurance
- Enable collaboration and teamwork
- And more
It’s important to understand that each CAT tool has its own specific features. In addition, not all CAT tools have the same components.
We’ll look at what is offered with the best tools for translation in the following sections.
Translation memory (TM) is a database that contains pairs that include a sentence and its translation. The pairs are created when a translator works on a sentence or phrase and stores this in the system for future use. The benefit of TM is that it allows translators to reuse previous translations and maintain language consistency across each project.
Translation memory automatically retrieves and suggests previously translated material when it finds the same sentences or segments of text. The translator sees both the source text and the previously translated text, and they decide to accept or reject the suggested translation.
One thing to remember is that the text may not always perfectly match. The sentences or text segments may be similar but still useful to the translator.
Another helpful tool offered by CAT tools is terminology management. Terminology management is the process of identifying essential terms, storing, and publishing them. The goal of terminology management is to keep the content consistent. This tool also enhances communication with the translator’s internal team and their client.
Many organizations use specific terms across their organization or industry. However, when that organization has employees and clients in other countries, it’s necessary to translate their content into multiple languages. The process becomes quite complicated. So, to avoid inconsistencies in the text, terminology management becomes essential.
Terminology management features, in the best tools for translation, also make it easier to manage glossaries to maintain consistency. The glossaries can also be used for future reference, making the translation process easier and faster.
Once the translator has finished their work, the CAT tool performs quality assurance (QA) on the translation. The QA ensures that the text fits pre-defined requirements and then checks to see if the terminology in the translation is consistent. The tool then checks to ensure the number and values in the source text match the target text and ensures identical text has been translated the same way throughout the content.
This feature is beneficial in many ways. For instance, it allows for shorter deadlines, makes the translation process cheaper, and ensures consistency in language usage and terminology. The tool also catches any errors that human translators may have missed.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Some of the best tools for translation, such as CAT tools, also work to improve collaboration between translators, editors, and project managers within the translation company. The tools allow the user to invite other translators to edit the translation within the program and make it possible for several users to work together in real time.
CAT tools can significantly improve collaboration between translators, editors, and project managers within a translation company. Shared translation memories, glossaries, and real-time updates help maintain consistency and quality across multiple projects allowing them to work together efficiently and track progress.
Some CAT tools also include segment edit history and tracking, which can also make collaboration more effective. You may also find CAT tools that offer instant messaging and email notifications.
File Format Compatibility
CAT tools can also handle a wide range of file formats, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, XML, and more. With the ability to handle many different file formats, CAT tools make it easier to work with different source materials and format content back into the source material’s file format.
Machine Translation Integration
Some of the best tools for translation, including CAT tools, also integrate machine translation engines, creating an efficient and cost-saving translation process. The tools can be used to pre-process and post-edit the resulting content from the MT process. CAT tools can improve the quality and increase the accuracy of the text, too.
Moreover, machine translation can be used to create initial translations for translators to review and edit, making it possible for them to focus on other, more challenging tasks.
Another valuable feature offered by CAT tools is that they offer various customization options, such as creating custom QA checks, setting up keyboard shortcuts, and configuring the user interface to fit their individual preferences.
Cloud-based vs. Desktop-based
When searching for the best tools for translation, you’ll find that some CAT tools are available as desktop applications or cloud-based platforms (some offer both).
When it comes to desktop-based tools, these offer more robust features. Unfortunately, they’re only available to use on a desktop computer, which is one of the downsides of using desktop translation tools.
On the other hand, cloud-based tools offer easier collaboration and are accessible from virtually anywhere. In addition, cloud-based tools are usually faster than desktop CAT tools.
Popular CAT Tools
There are several popular CAT tools to choose from, each offering unique features and capabilities. So, it’s easy to find the right CAT tool to fit your preferences or your team’s requirements. Here’s our list of the best tools for translation!
SDL Trados Studio
SDL Trados Studio is a translation tool that offers an entire translation environment for professional translators. This CAT tool offers features that allow translators to edit, review, and manage their projects. The features included in SDL Trados Studio help speed up the entire translation process while improving consistency and building up a database that can be used over and over.
This CAT tool offers cloud-based and desktop capabilities.
Next on our list of the best CAT tools is memoq. memoq is a computer-assisted translation tool that’s user-friendly and flexible. The tool works with Windows desktops, though it also offers a browser version that can be used on various devices.
Memoq supports over 130 languages, including English, French, Arabic, Farsi (Persian), and Pashto. When it comes to file formats, the CAT tool processes the following file formats:
- MS Office-Dateien
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe FrameMaker
- Typo 3
- HTML and XML
You’ll also find translation memory and termbase offered by memoq, along with the integration of machine learning.
Wordfast Pro is next up on our list of the best tools for translation. works with any language that’s included with Microsoft Word. It offers support for RTL (right-to-left), Asian, Cyrillic, Eastern European, and many other languages.
Wordfast Pro works on Windows 7 and higher, Linux, and Mac. The tool offers Target-only live preview, segment filtering, multilingual translation projects, and many other valuable features.
When it comes to file formats, this CAT tool supports almost any file format, including:
- MS Office
- Adobe InDesign
- RWS Trados Xliff
- Memoq Xliff
- And more
Next on our list of the best tools for translation is OmegaT. OmegaT is a free, open-source application that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. While this CAT tool is free to download and use, it is meant for professional translators, though the software does not do the translations. Instead, it uses machine translation. The software can also interface with some machine translation programs and Internet services.
The program’s professional features include the following:
- Fuzzy matching
- Match propagation
- Simultaneous processing of multiple-file projects
- User glossaries with recognition of inflected forms
OmegaT also offers support for over 30 file formats, including:
- MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- XHTML & HTML
- Open Document Format (native file format for LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice)
- MediaWiki (Wikipedia)
- And many more
Phrase (formerly called Memsource)
Phrase is another translation tool on our list of best tools for translation. was formerly called “Memsource”; however, Phrase and Memsource are now combined. Their premier translation product is Phrase TMS.
Phrase TMS is rated as one of the best tools for translation on the market. Here, you’ll find automated workflows, quality checks, and more.
This tool uses machine learning combined with AI to keep translation costs down for clients. In addition, it offers localization data so translators can make data-driven decisions quickly and efficiently. Moreover, all translations are stored in the translation memory, where they can easily be accessed for future projects.
When it comes to the best tools for translation, there are many to choose from. Each CAT tool offers unique features that may be the right fit for you and your business. When searching for the right CAT tool, it’s essential to thoroughly understand each feature offered and ensure it is right for your translation services. Choose the tool that offers the accessibility you and your team require.