Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sharing Translation Memories Leads to More Savings for Clients

By | Translations | No Comments

The benefits of a translation memory are clear.  These living databases help companies maintain quality, consistency and tone across languages while at the same time reducing costs (For a quick rundown on the translation memories, check out this previous blog.)  For these reasons, almost all large companies use translation memories, and almost all professional translators work with translation memories.

Read More

A Simple Guide to Understanding Word Counts

By | Translations | No Comments

The basic unit of the translation industry is the “word.”  Translators and agencies both bill by the word. But how you count words and therefore how much the translation costs depends greatly on the software you use.  Here’s a quick breakdown on the not so simple world of counting words.

Microsoft Word

The word count our clients are most familiar with is Microsoft Word.  While its word count has become much more accurate in recent years it’s still worth investigating what counts as a word and what does not.

Microsoft Word counts numbers in as words.  So, “I have 2 dogs” would be counted as 4 words.  Similarly, punctuation marks unconnected to other words count as independent words.  The stray ellipses “…” or hyphen “-“ counts as an extra word.  Microsoft Word does not count text in Headers or Footers.  For a long time Microsoft Word would not count text in Footnotes, Endnotes, Tables or Text Boxes, but in every version since 2010, text in those areas is counted.  However text in embedded objects, like an embedded Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, is not counted.

SDL Trados

SDL Trados is a Computer-Aided-Translation (CAT) tool that helps manage Translation Memories and is the industry standard in translation software.  AZ World uses Trados to analyze documents and then create quotes and proposals for clients.

Unlike Microsoft Word, Trados does not count numbers or punctuation marks as words.  But text in Headers, Footers, Footnotes, Endnotes, Tables or Text Boxes is all counted.  Text in embedded objects, like an embedded Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, is still not counted.


Typically Microsoft Word provides lower counts than SDL Trados.  If we were to create a quote based on a Microsoft Word word count we would no longer be able to take into account the benefits of a Translation Memory.  Even with an empty TM, Trados allows us to quote lower prices because of repeated phrases within a document.

We’ve found that the while word counts vary little between different software, understanding the basis of a word count goes a long way to building trust between a translator and a client.