Computer-assisted translation (CAT) is a software deployment process for translating text. CAT tools are software applications that assist document translation. The CAT tools produce the productivity and consistency of translators. CAT tools include document editor, terminology management, and translation memory (TM). With the evolution of the computing and networking industry, the CAT tools first evolved as stand-alone software to be used on a single computer. Later it evolved as a client-server tool to be used on the company network. Most recently, it evolved as a cloud-based tool that can be delivered via the internet.

Features of a CAT tool:

The CAT tools are similar to text editors, with additional features for translation professionals. Different CAT tool has various features, and below are some common features of the CAT tool.

Translation Memory: An aligned record of previously translated translation is called translation memory. It is used for better translation of future projects.

Termbases: A glossary of frequently used words and phrases such as brand names and technical terms is known as termbases. These termbases are used to pre-translate recurring words.

Word count and match analysis: This feature provides matching analysis with translation memory, word count, and character count.

Quality assurance: It depends on the combination of process and technology and prevents errors in translation. Quality assurance runs throughout the process.

Spell check: This spell check feature prevents spelling mistakes, specific grammar, and style rules.

Predictive typing: It suggests words and phrases to translators.

Machine translation integration: This feature allows the integration of the machine translation engine and displays machine-translated words and phrases to the translator. The translator has the right to accept and reject it.

Concordance searches: Manual searches for a particular word or phrase in a translation memory is concordance searches.

Resource lookup: This feature gives access to online and offline resources.

Controlled authoring: This feature prevents users from using inconsistent terminology, highlights common errors, and produces SEO-friendly output.

Advantages of computer-assisted translation:

CAT tools may enhance translation projects in several ways:

1. Foster consistency: Translation memory and term bases help translate multiple texts with a consistent result.

2. Increases productivity

3. Provide flexibility: The CAT tool is flexible and allows you to collaborate with team members, collaborators, and clients in real time. The tool is also accessible on the web, mobile, and desktop.

4. Caters to quality: A CAT tool allows you to get the consistent and effortless high-quality translation. The importance of tones and technologies is realized while producing text using technical, financial, and industry-specific jargon. The CAT tool can integrate internal and external language databases, which allow you to pick the nuances more easily and translate text quickly.

5. Less expensive: Translation done by CAT tool is rapid and efficient. The translators do not experience trouble in typing or translating similar texts. It makes the translation process less expensive.

How does a CAT tool work?

The primary role of the CAT tool is to help the translator do the job faster and more efficiently. The CAT tool breaks down the source text into small segments and stores them in a database. The CAT tools are accompanied by various editing tools and quality assurance tools. Following are the steps of the CAT tool workflow:

• Open the source text into a CAT program.

• The content to be translated is extracted by the CAT tool. It eliminates images and other non-text elements.

• Then the CAT tool splits the text into phrases, sentences, or paragraphs, known as segments.

• The tool displays the source text and translation side by side. The translator types the translation into the target segment until the translation is complete.

• After completion of the translation, the CAT tools save both source text and translation as a pair in the translation memory. Changes can be made at any time, and the changes will automatically save in the translation memory.

• The CAT tool can identify a similar text, and the translation can be filled automatically in the target column.

Who are the users of CAT tools:

Along with the individual translators and bilingual employees, the CAT tools are used by language service providers (LSPs). Approximately 86% of translators use CAT tools. These CAT tools are the commercial way of doing business and also save time and translation costs.

Most commonly used CAT tools:

SDL Trados Studio is the most widely used CAT tool in the language industry. The Trados offers translation and editing, manages terminology, and runs language QA. MomoQ is the second most commonly used tool and provides the same features as SDL Trados studio. Other popular CAT tools are Memsource, XTM cloud, Wordfast, Deja Vu, and Across.

Cost of CAT tools:

Software companies develop CAT tools, which can be integrated into existing translation platforms via APIs and SDKs. The cost of CAT tools ranges from $0-$300. The price of CAT tools depends on the number of seats, volume of words, features included, customization, and length of commitment.

The file types supported by CAT tools:

The files supported by the CAT tools are Word (.docx), Excel (.xlsx), PowerPoint (.pptx), Outlook Mail Message (.msg), Email (.eml), HTML, XML, XML for Android, Adobe InDesign (IDML), ARB, Autocad (.dxf), JPG (scanned text), PNG (scanned text), MS Visio (.vsd), PDF, Resource files (.strings), JSON (.json), Portable Objects (.po), Plain Text (.txt), DXF, RTF, Srt (YouTube subtitles), Sub(.txt), Xliff.


Ans: The translation memory help in translating similar projects in the future and saves time.

Ans: The best CAT tool is SDL Trados studio.

Ans: The cost of CAT tools depends on the number of seats, word volume, features included, customization, and commitment length.

Ans: Machine translation is a process in which the computer software performs the translation. On the other hand, the CAT tool is used by translators to facilitate their translation.