Do you find it challenging to keep up with the ever-growing number of terminologies? Looking for a way to improve your translation quality while saving time? This guide will explain 27 online translation tools for translators and writers,
Translations often need extensive research and sound technical knowledge. Yet, the most challenging part of this can be a tedious research process. Due to the digital revolution, translators have plenty of tools at their fingertips. This makes translation work more efficient and consistent. As a result, translation quality improves.
Below, you can find a comprehensive list of the 27 best online translation tools. These will improve your work as a translator.
The tools we are going to discuss:
a. Best Free Online Dictionaries
b. Online (Machine) Translation Tools
c. Computer-Assisted Translation Tools
d. Quality-Assurance Tools for Consistency And Writing
e. Translation Platforms
a. Best Free Online Dictionaries
Sorry, everybody. But I am not going to be romantic
But no one cares about printed dictionaries anymore. And why would you? All the information you need is available at your fingertips.
This is a top-rated tool among translators. It provides users with a multilingual dictionary in the form of a search engine. This enables you to search for the meaning of a text, words, and expressions.
You can do this for many languages. Linguee even scans the entire internet for relevant documents already translated. It shows you how other translators have translated this expression. Please be aware, though, that these are not verified translations. They can come from anywhere. This means that phrases might not be translated correctly. This is important to avoid potential pitfalls when using Linguee.
According to the website it “Looks up words and phrases in comprehensive, reliable bilingual dictionaries and search through billions of online translations.”
But here is how you can use it effectively:
- Make sure the source is reliable. You can find it in the bottom right corner of the segment. I used the example “translation guide.”
Again – to be very clear: this is not enough to verify whether a term is correct. You do need to do more in-depth terminology research.
This free to use online translation tool is a very extensive dictionary. In fact, this is thesaurus and encyclopedia in one and is available in a wide variety of languages.
The Free Dictionary works by cross-referencing different content sources. These include the American Heritage Dictionary, the Hutchinson Encyclopedia, Wikipedia. It also uses the Acronym finder database and a multitude of technical dictionaries. This is a powerful, intuitive tool that filters and lays out a vast amount of information. It’s no surprise, so many professional translators love The Free Dictionary. See the picture below to see an overview of all the functionalities
Can you see how powerful that is? You literally have a variety of features in one tool. Use the free dictionary. It is well worth your time.
Magic Search is comparable to The Free Dictionary. It combines a multitude of dictionaries. Again, this is a very intuitive tool. You type in the word you are looking for, and this multilingual search engine provides a single page. You can even install a Google Chrome extension. This makes Magic Search the perfect online translation tool for quick terminology searches.
One of the best online translation tools is the Microsoft Language Portal. It is ideal for software and IT-related translations. With approximately 25,000 IT terms, it has a wealth of information. It also provides English definitions and interpretations of up to 100 different languages. It is no wonder, so many professional translators use this tool. It gives thousands of translations used for the development of Microsoft localization products. So, next time you need to look up software terminology, make sure to try the Microsoft Language portal.
Here is how you use it
1. You type in the term you are looking for: in this example, I used an HTML tag.
2. You select the languages you need
3. You see the translation below plus the definition of the term.
The great thing about Microsoft Language Portal is
that it is a really reliable source.
You should definitely leverage that.
Wikipedia is something I was not using for a while until I read this brilliant article by Benny Lewis about dictionaries. Wikipedia is already well known as the free online encyclopedia, but did you know that it is also an essential tool for many translators? If you look up an entry on Wikipedia (and some on Wiktionary), the page likely has a frame on the left, indicating several translations for that entry in other languages. This is excellent news for translators.
You can read those entries in the other language. However, sometimes the title of the entry is all you need. Once you have confirmed that the word you entered is in the right context (e.g., there are two main ways of looking at the English source word.
Of course, you need to go to the particular Wikipedia for the source language of the term you are looking up, rather than necessarily the English version.
Wikipedia has over 100,000 individual entries in each of the 28 top languages, which can make it a handy dictionary indeed! Overall, it is available in over 200 languages, and you can see the list of them here.
Wordreference is one of my favorite dictionaries for simple terms, concepts, definitions, and some grammatical doubts.
I like its automatic suggestion as you type and its ability to conjugate (regular and irregular) verbs in a search. It also tells you what conjugation quepa is of this verb and gives a link to its full conjugation table).
If the base dictionary doesn’t have the term you are looking for, unless it’s really obscure, someone else will likely have asked about it in the forums. There will be a link to that discussion for you to read.
You can, of course, ask the question yourself if you sign up for a free account.
One advantage of this over some other simple dictionaries is that it usually has several entries on a single word if it can be translated in another way. It would often give at least a one-word synonym as well as possibly an example sentence to suggest context.
It can help with some technical terminology, but I usually avoid this dictionary if the word is technical.
This dictionary is ideal for Spanish, French, and Italian (to/from English) since these options have been on the site for several years.
It is less extensive but is continuously improving for German, Russian, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian, Czech, Greek, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Arabic.
Leo is an
excellent dictionary for different languages. It’s especially useful for
See below for the language pairs Leo supports.
On top of a vast dictionary, Leo also has a forum to discuss terms.
In this example, I research the term object of research.
I can then go into the forum discussion and look for what other translators have suggested regarding the translation of that term. This can help if you are unsure what word to use.
Dict is a very
similar dictionary to Leo. It also has a lot of additional language pairs.
If you work with one of those languages, make sure that you use Dict. It also has a forum similar to Leo’s.
b. Online (Machine) Translation Tools
Machine Translation Tools have their purpose. They are a quick and easy way to translate documents without having to wait. Of course, quality cannot be the same as human document translation or website localization. Nevertheless, it can be a great way to find a quick translation for what you are looking for. It can also be a great source to start if you start a translation project or a machine translation post-editing job.
9. Google Translate
Google Translate works under the neural machine translation premise. In an article in the independent, author Joe Summerland describes in-depth how Google Translate works. Because of the recent progress in AI, it is fair to say that these online translation tools are beneficial if used correctly. See this guide on how to use machine translation tools correctly.
As a professional translator, I would always say no.
However, according to Google’s test of accuracy, Google Translate has mixed reviews. Across several languages, Google said its new tool is 60 percent more accurate than the old Google Translate tool. The old tool used phrase-based machine translation.
Nevertheless, Google Translate is an excellent tool for quick and easy translation for vocabulary and for understanding a foreign phrase. It is not ideal, and should not be used, for professional document translation.
Similar to Google Translate, iTranslate is a great app for your Android or Apple device if you are looking for a quick translation for a term or phrase in a foreign language. Comparing Google iTranslate vs. iTranslate, I would say that Google is slightly better from my experience.
How does DeepL Translator work?
DeepL translates words directly between English and eight other languages: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Additionally, approximations of language equivalence are proposed among all of those languages, using a two-step process via an English pivot.
The translations that this tool provides are a lot better compared to Google Translator and iTranslate. Again, as a professional translator, I would advise against it in terms of its suitability for essential business documents. But it is perfectly fine to use this tool for quick and shorter translations.
c. Computer-Assisted Translation Tools
Computer-Assisted Translation Tools or abbreviated “CAT tools” are an excellent way for translators to increase productivity. In another blog post, I compare the strengths and weaknesses of all of them. Make sure you read those as well.
If you are a professional translator, you’ve probably heard of Trados. This software is likely the most well-known and established computer-assisted translation tool (CAT) to date and enjoys a good reputation among translators. One of its key features is the use of translation memory (TM), which means that previously translated content will be recycled and reused for future translation tasks.
This enables you to significantly increase your word per hour rate while maintaining or even growing translation quality. As most larger translation agencies will require their translators to work with CAT tools, using the most popular software can lead to an increase in clients.
If you are looking for guides for Trados, you will be able to find plenty of tutorials and walkthroughs in different languages. SDL Trados Studio also offers a 30-day free demo, so you have enough time to familiarize yourself with this powerful tool before making any purchase.
MemoQ is another powerful CAT tool. Its purpose is to increase productivity.
It uses translation memory and incorporates advanced features. These include its LiveDoc plugin. This tool preserves completed documents as opposed to cutting them down to segments. This enables you to get meaningful translations for entire paragraphs. Short and straightforward word segments.
It also has features such as auto-spell check, suggestions, and checking your translated document for consistency. With its functionalities, it ensures the use of correct terminology. It is no surprise that this powerful CAT tool is popular among freelance translators. You can also use it as a browser editor, which makes it a valuable online translation tool.
If you want to give this excellent tool a try, MemoQ offers a free 45-day demo version.
Memsource is a cloud-based translation environment that provides an effective and efficient project management tool.
Users can further optimize their translation productivity using features like TM, editing, and terminology management all within the platform.
OmegaT is an open-source translation memory (TM) software that is free to use. It is a tremendous and valuable CAT tool, especially for beginners looking for an online translation tool. It comes with core functionalities that some of the higher-end translation software have. Yet, it is simple enough to get a grasp on the feature. Hence, it won’t take a lot of time to learn how to use this handy tool.
OmegaT is the tool for you if you are looking for software for spell-checks and formatting issues. It also comes with a translation memory. Without breaking the bank, OmegaT could be the tool you were looking for.
OmegaT is a useful tool if you are looking for software that helps you with your spell-checks, formatting, and a translation memory on a low budget.
16. WordFast Pro
WordFast Pro is an affordable CAT tool that is equipped with all classic features of other top tier translation software. Unlike other CAT software, WordFast Pro allows you to import and export TMs even with their free version. This free version has only one limitation – a translation memory restriction of 500 units. If you do decide to need a more extensive translation memory, the full version will cost you 400 euros. This is still significantly lower compared to some of its competitors.
MateCat is a free and open-source online CAT tool. It’s free for translation companies, translators, and enterprise users. This is a perfect online translation tool for beginners who want to save money as it is free. It does not have the complex and sophisticated features that Trados and MemoQ have. Still, it is a very intuitive and straightforward tool.
Zanata is an entirely web-based translation platform with a focus on managing localization projects. This localization tool helps you concentrate on your translations while executing your project’s entire translation process and workflow. Another feature that can come in handy is the possibility of using its internal translation memory. This will help you to find suitable translation matches from its entire open-source translation system.
19. Fluency Now
Fluency now is an affordable computer-assisted translation software (CAT). With a monthly subscription fee of just $9.95 for the basic version, it is cheaper than most of its competitors. The benefit of Fluency Now is that it runs on Windows, IOS, and Linux operating systems. You will be able to choose the way you want to work on the operating system you love, no more sacrifices! Fluency Now also supports TMs from all primary CAT tools. It also automatically manages them so you can instantly access the most recent TMs for all your projects. This high cross software compatibility allows you to accept more job opportunities and hence could increase your number of clients.
d. Quality-Assurance Tools for Consistency And Writing
20. MemoQ QA Tool
MemoQ offers two levels of quality control. Here is how you use them.
- Go to settings by clicking on the symbol on the top left corner.
- Go to QA settings.
This is for possible mistakes during translation.
The Linguistic Quality Assurance to categorize mistakes and create error statistics across the project.
If you want more in-depth information on this, please see my MemoQ guide.
21. Trados QA Tool
If you use Trados instead of MemoQ (I use both), you need to be familiar with the QA tools inside Trados. The new Trados 2019 features allow you to make language-specific QA checks in SDL Trados Studio 2019. Make sure that you use them appropriately. Again, if you need an in-depth Trados 2019 quality assurance guide, you can find it here.
Before I describe Grammarly, I am going to be upfront with you. Make sure that you always comply with your client’s NDA policies (that you probably signed before you started working with them). Grammarly is an online tool that checks your grammar and other potential issues with your written content. As I am writing this, I make sure that my content is checked through
What is Grammarly used for?
“Grammarly is an app that automatically detects potential grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in writing. Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, wordiness, style, punctuation, and plagiarism.”
It really works like a charm. I highly recommend it as part of your online translation tools arsenal. Unfortunately, the free version has its limitations, and Grammarly is only available in English.
How much does Grammarly cost?
You can either use the free version with limitations mentioned above or buy Grammarly Premium in the form of an annual plan for $139.95. You won’t be disappointed, trust me, I use it every day.
The benefits include:
- Twice as Many Corrections
- Customized Checks for 30 Different Document Types
- Comparison of content against a library of over 16 billion web pages, so you’ll never have to worry about unintentionally borrowing material.
If you write in English regularly, you should really consider buying the premium version.
Can you change the language on Grammarly?
Unfortunately, not. For other languages, I use a different tool.
What does LanguageTool do?
Similar to Grammarly, this tool checks your texts for spelling and grammar problems. In the image below, you can see the languages, the tool supports.
Comparing Grammarly vs. LanguageTool, you would have to say that Grammarly works better for English but does not support any other language. Therefore, I would suggest that if you write/translate in another language, make sure that you use LanguageTool.
Using Xbench has become a mandatory step in my translation process. It checks for consistency errors and other issues. Its checks are a lot better than MemoQ and Trados. If you are looking for an excellent QA tool, use Xbench. Instructions on how to use this tool can be found here.
Hemingway Editor can be used for monolingual reviews or by writers.
Hemingway Editor aims your written work free of complicated and dull words by pointing out the use of adverbs and passive voice and asking you to rewrite wordy sentences. If you want to keep your sentences nice and short, use the Hemingway Editor in your browser. If you are not sure about the difference between the Hemingway app vs. Grammarly, make sure to read this article here.
Translator Café is an online community for translators. It is not necessarily a typical online translation tool but you can ask translation-related questions and seek advice. It is more of a social platform. You can also find collaboration opportunities and interact with other translators. Also, the platform has many forum threads. The registration is free, and most of its functionalities come at no extra costs. This makes it a great platform to find fresh and prompt translation jobs
ProZ is a portal made by translators for translators. It is also home to the world’s largest translation network. Translators use this membership-based platform for posting and responding to job offers. It is also a great way to find new collaboration opportunities. Linguists also use it to exchange ideas on the discussion forums. This makes it a virtual community of professional translators. Another popular feature is the possibility to market your services within the community. In return, you can receive relevant job offers that match your profile.
So, if you are on the lookout for new clients, want to talk to other translators, or want to learn more about the industry, ProZ can be a great opportunity.
All of these tools have their own individual purpose. Make sure you check them out.
Do you use any of these tools? Are you using a handy translation tool and it is missing on this list?
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