Glossary of terms used in this manual Wordfast Classic

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(Terms that are already part of the Ms-Word environment are treated briefly - Refer to Ms-Word's Help or Manual for a more complete definition)


CAT stands for Computer-Assisted Translation. CAT broadly refers to software used by professional translators to boost productivity, and/or enjoy a more comfortable environment. Other acronyms have been added, which only create confusion. In the end, no acronym or naming is ever perfect, and CAT remains the most widely used term.


TMX stands for Translation Memory eXchange. TMX is a gateway format that allows translation tools to exchange TM content. Most Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools do not use TMX as their native format, but nearly all of them can import from, or export to, the TMX format. As in all conversions, a minor quantity of information may be lost, such as attributes (meta tags).


Those are formats made to hold document content during the CAT process. Thus, filters have to used ahead of translation to transform a document (DOC, XLS, PDF, HTML, whatever) into one of those formats; when the translation and proofreading is complete, the same filter must be used to reconstruct the translated document into its original format. Those formats are usually written in XML.

Translation Unit (TU)

A TU is a set of source and target segments. A TU also records creation date, plus optional attributes (see below).

Translation Memory (TM)

A TM is a set of TUs - a database of TUs. Practically every translation tool has its own format. Wordfast has its own format but, unlike most other tools, it’s an open format, which can be edited with a wide variety of editors. The TMX translation memory format is a gateway between different TM formats. Wordfast supports TMX.


A TU is a pair of source and target sentences. TUs have built-in attributes that record information (creation date, languages codes, etc.). 5 user-definable attributes can be customized. A typical attribute is the identity of the translator who generated the TU. Other attributes can be subject, client, job number, etc. Each of the 5 attributes can have many values, stored in a drop-down list, visible in the Wordfast/Translation memory/TM Attributes tab. For example, the "Subject" attribute could have three possible values, such as "Scientific", "Literary" and "Business". The value that is visible in the drop-down list is said to be the "active" value.

Attributes can help organizing TMs. See the Attributes section for more information.


One purpose of a translation tool is to find "matches" in the TM for the source segment you are curently translating. When a fuzzy match is found, the segment will display a percentage rating the match’s resemblance with the TMs reference source segment. Bear in mind that this is a purely statistical and blind computational process, it has little to no semantic relevance. Some CAT tools evoke "semantic" neural networks or "linguistic" sense - those claims are as reliable as washing powder hype.


When a match value is being calculated, penalties can be applied to lower the match value. Usually, these penalties are based on an attribute variance. See the relevant section on penalties.

Microsoft Word (Ms-Word)

The application (or software) with which you are currently reading this manual. Ms-Word is generally used at a fraction of its capacities. A professional translator will gain a lot by learning a few advanced functions, such as smart Find-Replaces (see the Appendix IV below), customizing toolbars and shortcuts, and essential macro knowledge. Consider seeking expert help or training: this investment in time or money will be recouped very quickly.

Microsoft Office

a collection of applications, usually sold and installed together, of which Ms-Word is a member. Ms-Office includes Ms-Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, FrontPage, Publisher, Outlook, OneNote, etc, although the restricted version of Ms-Office usually offers only Ms-Word and Excel.


(Visual Basic for Applications) is a programming language shared by all Ms-Office applications. WFC is written in pure, original VBA, add-ons, OCX, etc - this is why it runs on both Windows and Mac, and is ready to be ported to other platforms.


An intensive use of Ms-Word can sometimes lead to highly repetitive tasks (imagine you have to change the first paragraph font on a hundred documents). The macro recorder can record a series of actions done in Ms-Word into a macro named by you; from then on, you can execute this macro as many times as necessary by simply calling the macro dialog box (Alt+F8) and executing the macro, or better, by assigning the macro a shortcut. Macros are written in VBA. Press Alt+F11 or use Tools/Macro/Visual Basic Editor to open the VBA editor window, where your recorded macros will appear, in the code module(s) of your "Normal" template.

Macrovirus, or Ms-Word virus.

Any piece of executable code, in practically any language, is a potential virus. The only difference between an application and a virus is the fact that a virus was created to hurt, harm or destroy. Both Ms-Word documents and Ms-Word templates can contain VBA code, as well as many other formats, like graphics etc.

Use a recent, and if possible "major", antivirus application that handles "Ms-Word", "Office", "Macro", or "VBA" viruses. Serious antivirus developers will offer you regular updates through the web. They will also listen to you, since it is by listening to users under attack and finding answers that they can maintain their database of viruses. Please note that most oeprating systems released after 2010 are inherently protected, and do very well without an antivirus. Many antivirus programs place an immsens burden on the system and end up being worse than the ill they are supposed to cure.

Every release of WFC is scanned before being put on download. As of March 2016, over 35,000 registered users are using WFC, over 6,000 of them contribute daily to a public discussion group.

If your Antivirus reports that WFC is a virus. This happens with roughly one antivirus in 20. WFC holds lots of VBA code and antivirus applications with a shallow or unreliable virus-detection algorithm can falsely report WFC as virus. You should do any, or all, of the following:

Immediately test WFC with another antivirus - perhaps by asking a colleague equipped with a different brand of antivirus. If another antivirus of another brand also reports WFC a virus, then the matter is serious: WFC has perhaps been infected by an infected document or template. Kindly report this to

Contact the maker of your antivirus, report the alarm, ask them to download WFC as you have done, so they can also test it. Then they should (if they are serious and honest) modify their antivirus software, or prove that WFC is a virus - one of the two.

Contact the WFC hotline at No need to post panicking mails in the mailing list: all such mails until now were proved to be false alarms, and an embarrassment for their authors.

Documents and Templates

A document holds contents, i.e., text.

A Template is a model of document that proposes a preset layout, so that the user can concentrate on contents rather than on appearance. Templates can also be used as Add-Ins, extending Ms-Word's capacities. WFC is an Add-In.

Normally, a template is not opened as a document: it is either used to create new documents with a certain preset appearance, or it is added to Ms-Word's list of templates, using the Tools/Templates & Add-Ins menu. WFC belongs to this last category.


(this is for Ms-Word versions prior to Ms-Word 2007. From Ms-Word 2007 onward, toolbars are contained in a so-called Ribbon, which can be either minimized (Ctrl+F1), or occupy substantial screen real-estate.)

Ms-Word’s "View" menu has a "Toolbars" option (right-click in the toolbar area to get there quickly) that lets you turn toolbars off and on. Turn off toolbars you are not using: they take up space and load the visual field, creating confusion. Use the same menu’s "Customise" option to customise toolbars. In the "Customise" dialog box, go to the "Commands" tab (the second one). Experiment by clicking in the list of commands, holding the button down, dragging a command. Drop its icon in a toolbar of your choice. You have just added a icon to your toolbar. If you make intensive use of a Ms-Word function and keep using menus, it is recommended to drop the corresponding command in a toolbar for quick access.

To remove an icon from a toolbar (the "Customise" dialog box being visible), drag its icon and drop it outside the toolbar: it will be removed.

I encourage WFC users to add the following two icons in either the "Standard" or the "Formatting" toolbar: Format/PasteFormat (play with it to learn how powerful it is. The icon looks like a brush, or a short broomstick); View/FieldCodes. Do not customise WFC’s toolbars.


Dragging the mouse over text in a document while holding the left button (Windows) or the single button (Mac) will select a portion of the document, which then appears in reverse video, usually white on black. The insertion point (the blinking cursor) disappears when a selection is made. A selection can also be made by holding either Shift key down and moving the cursor by means of the arrow keys.

When a selection is cancelled, the insertion point, or cursor, appears again.


A bookmark, as in a paper book, is inserted at some position in the document so that we can get back there quickly at a later time. Use the Insert menu to insert a bookmark over the current selection, or at the insertion point. The bookmark has to be given a name. The bookmark will "remember" the selection's position and extent in the document.

Bookmarks are saved together with a document. Ms-Word's Tools/Options/View dialog box can be used to have the position and span of bookmarks made visible with grey [brackets].

Bookmarks are part of the document, and play a crucial role in documents that have links, automatic indexes, table of contents etc. The translation process may require bookmarks to be transferred into the translated text, at the appropriate position, extending over a corresponding length of text, retaining the same bookmark name. Since two bookmarks cannot have the same name in the same document, WFC proposes ways to handle them during the translation process. Refer to the Bookmarks section.

Refer to Ms-Word's Help or Manual for more information on bookmarks.


Fields can be inserted into a document using the Insert/Field... menu. A field usually contains a code that has to be calculated, computed or in some way, processed by Ms-Word. Thus, there are two ways of looking at fields: the code, or the result. Use Tools/Options/View to toggle field display modes, or use the Alt+F9 shortcut.

Note that fields are calculated at the moment when they were created. Placing the cursor over a field and pressing F9 will force the update (the recalculation) of the field.

A field that has not been updated may perhaps not show a correct value. For example, a Table of Contents, which is produced by a TOC field, may not necessarily be up-to-date.

If the update produces an error, the field will display an error message.

Refer to Ms-Word's Help or Manual for more information on fields.


See the section on Tags for a thorough presentation of tags. This term refers only to special untranslatable elements (usually grey or red) found in a particular category of files known as "tagged files", pre-processed for translation with adequate software (Rainbow Horizon, PlusTools, Trados Stagger, etc).

Delimiters (segment delimiters): should not be confused with tags. Delimiters are the purple symbols that delimit the beginning and end of both source and target segments, such as (0> .

A bad segment is a segment where delimiters have suffered from deletion, addition, or edition. Bad segments create problems at cleanup time. They can be manually fixed by reproducing the set of delimiters found in a healthy segment. The protection of delimiters may have to be turned off (the shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+F12) before you fix delimiters.


A segment is an elementary unit of translation. Segments are usually sentences. In some cases, it may be necessary to translate entire paragraphs rather than sentences, but this is rarely the case.

During a translation session, the current segment (with the coloured background for source and target segments) is said to be opened. Segments should be left opened only for the duration of the translation process. If you need to make a break, complete your current segment then press Alt+End to close both the segment and the translation session.

Commit a segment

A segment is committed when the translator presses Alt+Down or Alt+End on an opened segment during a translation session, thereby "closing" the currently opened segment. At that moment, if the source/target pair does not exist in the TM, the pair of sentences will be added to the TM (subject to TM rules).

Shift+Alt+End (Close segment) will close a segment without committing it to the TM.

Source, target

Translation is done from a source language (in)to a target language. A translation project may have one source language and many target languages. Most translators, however, deal with one source language and one target language, in which case, we speak of a language pair.

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