OmegaT – When free equals good

If you are just starting to get your feet wet in the world of Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) or would otherwise require a free CAT tool on an ancillary computer, then you may want to give a try to OmegaT. For the most part, I would say, it performs all the same essential operations (in a better way, sometimes) as the overpriced mainstream tools.

This is what comes inside the package:

  • The possibility of creating new Translation Memories or add legacy TMs to your projects (in TMX format).
  • Simultaneous use of multiple TMs
  • Match propagation
  • Compatibility with many different types of source file formats, including .docx, .xlsx., .sdlxliff (Trados Studio 2009-2011 native format), .ttx (legacy Trados format) .html, .po, .resx, .idml (InDesign), .ini, plain text and more…
  • Support for bilingual dictionaries, with recognition of inflected forms
  • Support for bilingual glossaries (you can export your existing glossaries as a .txt file and reuse them, otherwise OmegaT also accepts .tbx)
  • Integrated spell-checker, which highlights any spelling errors while you type
  • Support for right-to-left languages
  • Integration with Machine Translation

Overall, a very practical tool with a relatively short learning curve, very stable and lightning fast. The ability to handle .ttx and .sdlxliff  (legacy and new Trados formats) is particularly impressive.

Shortcut Monday! (Studio 2011 Special)

Here’s a list of the essential shortcuts every SDL Trados Studio 2011 user should know by heart:


  • Ctrl + Alt+ Enter Confirm and move to next segment
  • Ctrl + Enter Confirm and move to next unconfirmed segment
  • Ctrl + Ins Copy Source to Target
  • F3 Concordance Search
  • Ctrl + Alt+ S – Merge Segments
  • Alt + Shift + T  Split  Segments
  • Ctrl + Alt+ QuickPlace (allows you insert tags, numbers and other placeables in one go)


  • Ctrl + F2 Add new term to an existing Termbase (after selecting the source and target term in the Editor panel)
  • Ctrl + F12 Save Term in the existing Termbase
  • Ctrl + Shift + L Show Translated Terms (while you are typing your translation)


  • F7 Run a spellcheck
  • F8 Verify document for common issues (you can specify the parameters in Tools > Options > Verification)

The above shortcuts are the ones which ship by default. You can change them any time by going to Tools > Options > Keyboard Shortcuts

Cleaning MS Office documents, and more…

Want to rid your MS documents of those uncanny hard returns, search the document for a list of common mistakes or quickly adapt numbers to the target language conventions? Translator Tools is a (free) set of macros designed for MS Word, Excel, Visio and Autocad that help those who translate directly in MS Office and CAT tools alike.

The installation process is very straightforward, and if you are using Office 2007-2010, the tool will display under the Add-ins section of the ribbon:

Some of my favorite Word functions include Document Cleaner, useful if you need to ensure your OCR’ed PDF conversion will be seamlessly segmented by your CAT software, Quick Proofreading, which allows you to search your translations for common mistakes and Miscellaneous Tools (insert custom symbols, collect all images from active documents, etc.).

In Excel, you can also perform glossary searches, find and remove duplicates from your glossaries and format your spreadsheets after translation.

Great collection of text manipulation tools

I have recently stumbled a across a great set of online text manipulation tools. Text Mechanic is a collection of 32 different functions which allow you to perform many time-consuming conversion tasks with the click of a button.

Some of the most interesting functions include:

  • Merge Text (Line by Line) – Merge two sets of text line by line with the option of writing a prefix, divider or suffix into each merged line.
  • Number Each Line – Add a sequential number to each line of text. Enumerate items within a list.
  • Remove Duplicate Lines – Remove/delete all duplicate lines within your text/list. This tool also gives you the option to display the text which is removed, which could be handy for TM-leveraging purposes.
  • Sort Text Lines – Sort the lines of your text according to different parameters: alphabetical order, length, reverse or random.
  • Online Stopwatch –  An online stopwatch that records times with a start/stop timestamp.

It’s truly amazing how many repetitive and time-consuming activities can be eliminated with this great set of tools. It may not be the snazziest website out there, but what it lacks in design it makes up for in efficiency.

Leveraging the amazing IMF glossary

Available in English to Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and German combinations,  the IMF termbase contains 150,000 terms useful to those linguists who deal with IMF documents and, more generally speaking, with financial translations (and to everyone else, really). The termbase supplied in PDF format contains English terms with their equivalents in the above languages.

This termbase includes concepts and institutional titles commonly found in IMF documentation in areas such banking, public finances, balance of payments and economics. Some entries include a usage field within square brackets, denoting the origin of the term, e.g. [OECD], or a context, e.g. [trade]; others contain cross-references. Acronyms are also included.

While all in all this is a great tool, IMF didn’t really make life easy for the “translators working with IMF material”. The termbase is supplied as a protected PDF and, as such, not really compatible with TEnT/CAT environments. Why not making it available as a TBX as Microsoft does?

The task of converting this tabular PDF termbase into a more manageable format is not that straightforward or pleasant, but certainly worth the investment if you work with these types of materials.

For this conversion, I would use ABBYY Fine Reader (check my earlier tutorial on how to make the most of this tool). You select the Draw Table Area from the toolbar, drag it over the bilingual table (don’t select headers/footers) and after you complete this in all pages, click Ctrl + Shift + R to recognize the whole document. Export all the pages to Word 2003 (.doc) and then copy all pages (Ctrl + A) to a brand new Excel document:

There’s still a fair amount of work to be done after this conversion (e.g. delimiting the fields, separating the synonyms/contextual information and preparing the glossary for TEnT/CAT integration), but all in all it should go a lot faster than manually copying/pasting from the initial PDF.

Shortcut Monday!

MS Word

  • Ctrl + Spacebar /Ctrl + Q Removes character/paragraph formatting
  • Ctrl + Alt + 1 /Alt + 2/Alt + 3 Formats your text as a Heading 1/Heading 2/Heading 3
  • Ctrl + Home/End  Moves you to the beginning/End of the document.

MS Excel

  • F4 – Pastes text into the active cell
  • Ctrl + Shift + F12 Displays the Print dialogue box
  • Ctrl + Shift + Enter (in the formula bar) Enters a formula as an array formula (an array formula is a special formula that operates on a range of values, e.g. a table)

Merging multiple Excel files/sheets

If you ever needed to merge multiple Excel files and/or sheets into a single/consolidated file, then the RDBMerge Add-in is your best friend. To get started, download either the Excel 97-2003 or the Excel 2007-2010 version. Then copy the RDBMerge.xla(m) to the directory of your system where you keep all you add/ins.

Then launch Excel 97-2003 or 2007-2010 version as proceed as follows:

Excel 97-2003
Click Tools, click Add-Ins, choose Browse to go to the add-in and then click OK. Verify RDBMerge is checked in the add-in list and then click OK.

Excel 2007-2010
2007: Click the Microsoft Office Button, click Excel Options, click the Add-Ins tab.
2010: Click on File, click on Options, click the Add-ins tab. In the Manage drop-down, choose Excel Add-ins, and click Go. Choose Browse to go to the add-in and then click on OK. Verify RDBMerge is checked in the add-in list and then click OK.

User Interface

The UI is self-explanatory and I would just mention that, even though this add-in is primarily designed to merge multiple Excel files, you can also use it to merge multiple worksheets inside a single file. To do that, you simply select the Folder location of your Excel file, then in the Which worksheet(s) section, select Merge All worksheets and finally on Which range: select First cell A1 till last cell on Worksheet.

Big kudos to Ron de Bruin for making this great tool available for free!