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How to Use Client Glossaries Most Efficiently

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Imagine a situation where a client contacts their translation vendor and complaints about the quality of the delivered translation. It turns out that the vendor failed to use several terms from the glossary provided by the client. How embarrassing is that?

Avoiding this embarrassment is easy if you follow a simple best practice: making a client glossary accessible to your translation team from within a CAT tool. In this article, I will describe how to do this for the translation program OmegaT, but the principle is the same for any other CAT tool.

Various Glossary Types

Client glossaries come in many forms:

  • List of UI items. If a client has already localized their software and now wants you to translate a new version or a user manual, they often provide a list of all UI items translated for the previous version.
  • Excel glossary. Clients love these glossaries, because they are easy to manage, in particular for multiple languages.
  • Multiterm glossary. Used by translation agencies that rely on Trados.

A client normally expects that the new translation will be consistent with the glossary. So your task as a translation vendor is to make sure your translation team follows the glossary to the letter.


You need to make sure that the glossary is available to your people in the most convenient way, and normally this means being able to use it from within a CAT tool. To make this possible, you need to convert the glossary first.

  1. Conversion into a CAT tool-friendly glossary format. Accessing the glossary from within the CAT tool increases the likelihood of the glossary being used. When we send glossaries to freelance translators and cannot control how they use them, a translator misses many more terms on average than an in-house translator using a glossary in OmegaT.
  2. Conversion into a translation memory. If the glossary is extensive and includes long sentences, which is the case with UI strings such as error messages, it pays to convert it into a TMX memory as well. In addition to being available as glossary entries, the sentences might come up as fuzzy matches.

Technically, conversion is usually very simple. An Excel file can be manually pasted into a tab-delimited TXT file. A Multiterm glossary can be converted with Glossary Converter. ApSIC Xbench might also come in handy, especially if you need to convert a glossary into a TMX file.


The next step is making the converted glossary available to your CAT tool. With OmegaT, it means putting the TXT glossary into the glossary subfolder of a project. And if you also made a TMX out of it, you need to put this TMX into the tm subfolder.

When a translator or an editor starts working on the project, OmegaT will draw their attention to the glossary entries by underlining them. Compare this to a completely manual process, where a translator does not have a clue whether any of the terms in the current segment exist in the glossary and has to look them up manually. Not only does OmegaT highlight the entries in the source text, but it also makes it easy to insert them in the translation by using the marvelous auto-completer function (Ctrl+Space).


While converting a client glossary into a CAT tool-friendly format takes just a few minutes, the benefits in terms of efficiency are enormous. The likelihood of following the glossary also increases dramatically.

Don’t forget to run a terminology check using your favorite QA tool. To learn more about this, read the article “Let the Computer Do the Checking.”

Do you think this is the “ultimate” best practice for client glossaries? Or can it be improved?

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.