A Roundup of Valuable SDL TRADOS STUDIO 2019 Features Essential for Perfect Translations

This article is aimed at translators routinely recruited by project managers for scientific, medical or pharmaceutical translation. It is of particular relevance to translators working in SDL Trados Studio 2019 on scientific/medical text that also needs to follow certain style guides or templates, such as those required by the European Medicines Agency.

Submitting a spotless translation that needs no review but also hours of unaccounted for formatting begs for an early courtesy heads-up to reposition the project manager on what the text still needs ahead of submission to end client.

Getting document formatting right from the very beginning is essential for project success. Do not expect translators to be formatting experts, or you will be in for bitter surprises. While there are translators who are good at formatting, and some who master advanced formatting techniques, these make up far from the majority of active translators. If you are expecting a translation from original scanned images or pdfs that do not convert well(vast majority do not), the first step to take towards a perfect translation is to produce a copy of original documents that can be read by software that translators commonly use for the translation process.

Matching source formatting is essential for a clean delivery, and formatting must not be ignored even if it is of no relevance to delivering a perfect translation. While as a translator you should not be expected to work on formatting by default, there are two ways in which as a professional translator you can actively support project managers to ensure perfect document formatting: strive to become better at formatting text, and report every noticed discrepancy that cannot be fixed in the translation stage of the project EARLY ON. If the number of discrepancies ends up being large, the project will need to go through supplementary desktop publishing and professional formatting by a third party ahead of delivery to end client.

Many features of SDL TRADOS STUDIO ease the path towards a translation that does not just get the wording right, but also gets the formatting right. We have compiled a few functions that help speed the process.

Pictograms in the Third Column of the Editor View

Each pictogram in the third column of the side-by-side translation display in the Editor View stands for something: learn the meaning behind each pictogram. This will allow you to accelerate through the translation, and interact with the software at a meaningful level.


When Trados picks up a fuzzy match from the project translation memory, and the newly-populated translation suggestion needs to be adapted to match the source exactly, the similarity percentage calculated by Trados shows in this third column as well. Once a human translator intervenes to adapt the translation to source requirements this icon becomes TRANSPARENT.

A 100% text match may generate a 99% fuzzy match if there are formatting discrepancies between the translation memory source text and the segment currently needing translation.

The Translation Results Window

Above the side-by-side editor you see a number of tabs, most importantly the Translation Results window. This is where any matches from the TM are displayed. Terminology assistance is available to the left of the Translation Results window. Terminology Recognition, Search and the Viewer as well as most other panes can be closed, resized, rearranged and shifted to a second screen outside of the main application window. If you want things back the way they were, on the View Tab you can Reset the Window Layout to default. Another useful button: Auto-hide. When pointing left, the window automatically collapses once you move the mouse pointer away. When pointing down, the window stays locked in its current position.
For quick document navigation, section headlines are displayed on the upper right of the side-by-side translation within a document tree.

Auto-suggest, Auto-propagation and Placeables

Auto-suggest dictionaries increase translation throughput considerably! Instead of typing the whole word, just press ENTER to insert the suggestion prompted upon typing the first letter. SDL TRADOS STUDIO 2019 also auto-propagates translations of identical segments. Once a segments has been confirmed, if any identical segments are found within the document their translation will be automatically populated.

For results that are similar but not identical, auto-propagation adds a percentage match in the third column of the Editor View. You need to adapt the suggested translation before you confirm and save it to the TM. Automatic number substitution occurs when segments contain elements such as numbers, which are called placeables, as they are placed inside the target segment rather than being translated.

Placeable elements are marked with a blue underline in the source segment. If your segment contains more than one number, check carefully that the numbers in the translation appear at the correct position, especially if the translation was retrieved as a 100% match.

Web addresses are marked with a blue underline to signal that they are placeable elements; they should remain unchanged in the target document. If a web address makes up all the segment content, the entire source segment is considered a placeable element. This is why it has a blue underline.

The Web address can be easily inserted into the target segment by pressing Ctrl+T. The AT icon between the source and the (identical) target segment indicates that this is an Automated Translation suggestion. SDL Trados Studio ’assumed’ that the Web address does not need to be localized and translated the segment automatically. If the Web address indeed does not need to be changed in the target segment, confirm this short segment with Ctrl+Enter.

Active Terminology Recognition

Active terminology recognition: as soon as you start typing the first letter of a term stored in a project-linked glossary (terminology suggestions are displayed on the top right) the system automatically offers the full term, which you can insert in your target segment by pressing the ENTER key. Source segments containing matches in the termbase glossary are signalled with the help of red bracketed lines extending above the recognized terms. Learn to differentiate between the pictogram for results issued from a Termbase vs. AutoSuggest Dictionaries. Terminology databases are maintained by linguists and therefore Termbase results are usually more reliable.

Character Formatting with QuickPlace

Applying Character Formatting Through QuickPlace: in SDL TRADOS STUDIO 2019 this works the same way as inserting terms from the Termbase or AutoSuggest Dictionary. Highlight the words in your target segments to which you wish to apply some character formatting then press CTRL+, This will open a QuickPlace list with all the types of character formatting that are used in the source segment. Select the required formatting and press ENTER.

Real Time Document Preview

It is often useful to view the actual translated document layout in native format well ahead of completing the translation. This greatly helps project managers further down the road in case formatting deviates significantly from what the clean deliverable needs to look like. You can generate an initial preview at any time while you are translating by clicking the Preview tab to the right of the side-by-side translation window.

In SDL TRADOS 2019 the real time preview is available for the following file formats: Word, PowerPoint, HTML and XML. All other supported document types can be previewed in the native application, if installed on your computer. In this case, from File you will need to save Save Target As or press SHIFT+F12 and open the saved document in native format.

Tag Insertion

Segments that contain tag pairs need to have the tags showing in the translation as well. Tag pairs consist of an opening and a closing tag, which enclose for example, a Web address. To translate a segment with tag pairs take the following steps:

First, translate the segment. Just ignore the tags for now.

Then highlight the Web address in the target segment.

Move the mouse pointer over one of the csf tags in the source segment. (You can select either the opening or closing csf tag.) NOTE: csf stands for change style formatting.

With the Ctrl key pressed click one of the csf tags. This will insert the csf tags around the Web address in your target segment.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all tags present in the segment.

NOTE: Tags here are placeholders for the beginning and end of formatting information, but they do not substitute spaces.
Please be sure that you are typing all the spaces your text needs.