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How Does Translation Memory Make Your Work Easier As A Translator?

As someone working in the translation industry, you have probably heard the term Translation Memory (TM) thrown around many times. But what does translation memory mean and why should you use it to do your translations?

In this article, I’ll explain to you what translation memory is, and why it is in your best interest to incorporate it in your translation business.

Translation memory defined

Most businesses offering professional translation services use translation memory tools. What this means is they have a translation memory system where all translated content is saved. The translation database is built as translators work on text using the TM system.

For example, if you’re translating content from English to French using translation memory, the source text and the translated text will be saved in the database to form what is called a translation unit. In future, as you translate text the translation memory will notify you if any of the text you’re translation is similar to what has been translated in the past and you can use this instead of doing the translation again.

As you grow your internet translation agency you can start building a translation memory for each of your clients. You’ll develop the TM over time as you continue to work with a client.

5 reasons why you must you use translation memory as freelance translator

1. To do away with repetitive translation tasks

If you work with a client whose content has a lot of repetitive text you can save yourself the trouble of having to translate the text each time the client sends over some work. With TM software once the client gives you content to translate you only need to check it against previously translated material.

When you do this you’ll know how much text is similar to what is database and take a short time to quickly input this translation into the text. Once done you can start translating what was not available in the translation memory.

Your translation memory will usually give you several categories from the database. Your source text may be a 100% match to what has been translated before or a fuzzy match which is text that has some similar segments to the translation memory.

For example, let’s say a client sends you a washing machine manual to translate. You do the work and forget about it. Six months down the line the same client comes back with a user manual for a newer model of the washing machine. It is likely most of the manual will have identical text to what is in the translation memory, other sections will need minor changes and rest will be new.

So as you do the translation the translation memory will retrieve and show you the 100% matches, similar segments “fuzzy matches” which you can quickly translate into your document before proceeding to the rest of the text which you’ll translate from scratch.

I think it is clear that translation memory can save you hours you could have spent translating text  you’ve done before.

2. To speed up translation

Clients are usually happy if you can have their translation done for them in the shortest time possible. As a translator using translation memory the time you take to perform a task will always be faster than the time a translator who doesn’t have a translation database to refer to takes. So if you want to impress your clients with your fast delivery translation memory is the way to go. Your being quick may be the competitive edge your translation business needs to get you more clients and take you to greater heights.

3. To do get more translation work done

Before using translation memory you might be taking a whole day to translate 1000 words, but with the tool, this can be reduced to a few hours. Once you get the work done in a shorter time you have the option of relaxing the rest of the day or taking on more work, the choice is yours.

Most business translation services providers like using TM because they are able to get more work done since less time is spent on each translation project. As a freelance translator, you should think like them.

4. To deliver quality work

When you get hired a client expects you to deliver the same translation quality throughout a project. They’ll be very disappointed with your work if today you translate this way and tomorrow in another way. So to ensure you are consistent use translation memory.

No matter how good you’re at your job, it will be hard for you to remember how you translated a word a month ago, but with TM you can be sure worlds are translated similarly.

5. To make more money

With a translation memory, we have already seen that you’ll be able to do your translations faster. Which is a good thing because instead of doing one translation a day maybe you can do 2-3. Obviously, if you are able to increase your daily output you will be making more money. That am sure is music to your ears as a translator.  So if you’re still asking yourself why use translation memory this is one reason I hope gets you to start using the tool ASAP.

Also as a professional translator using translation memory you charge clients less. When you charge less than others in the industry you can attract more clients who are being charged more by translators who are yet to start using translation memory. And the thing is you’re charging less but delivering work fast and translation quality is maintained throughout the text. Which client wouldn’t want to work with a translator like you?


As you can see translation memory has a lot it can do to help you better your professional translation company. With it, you can in no time increase the speed of your translation, ensure consistency, do more translations and increase your revenues.

If you haven’t begun using translation memory what are you waiting for?

Expand your translation business

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