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Translation Software Explained

What is Translation Software?

Translation software is a type of solution that improves the language translation process and/or output for the end user in order to reap a specific benefit or set of benefits. It falls into a wide spectrum of software solutions; everything from Translation Memory to Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT tools) to sophisticated Enterprise Translation software.

Whether it is used to translate internal communications or external-facing content, effective use of translation software can offer a path to a more streamlined workflow, translation quality improvement, keep your organization safe and generate impressive cost savings.

Organizations that Commonly Use Translation Software Systems

Some types of organizations that commonly adopt translation software include:

  • language service providers (LSP’s)
  • healthcare companies
  • manufacturers
  • life sciences
  • marketing agencies
  • publishers
  • law firms
  • government agencies
  • non-governmental organizations (NGO’s)
  • financial institutions

Typical End Users

While there are many different types of people within various industries who use translation software, users commonly fall into the following categories.

Bilingual Employees

Frequently called on to assist with translations for their organization

Monolingual Employees

These are Managers who need to translate emails and documents for internal use. They’re typically translating confidential information, so security is really important, and don’t need perfect translation. Compliance Managers may also benefit from translation software to perform email and communication audits.

Freelance Translation Professionals

Contract their services out to organizations and individuals

Employees of Translation Companies

Either provide translation services on behalf of their company or use other translation software to develop proprietary solutions

How Does Translation Software Aid the Translation Process?

The manual translation process is lengthy and may involve several moving parts, depending upon the project.

The type of translation platform that an organization or user adopts ideally includes a feature set that provides the best combination of functions to serve that particular organization and users.

Translation software functions as a computer assisting in the development of translations. How it helps the user is dependent upon the functionality of the software system and if those capabilities match the user’s needs.

Functions of Translation Software

The following functions are commonly facilitated by translation software.

  • Storing human-translated segments of text
  • Reusing previously translated segments of text
  • Automatically editing multiple segment repetitions across a file or batch of files
  • Terminology management (pull translations from approved glossary/terminology lists)
  • Fast batch file translation
  • Copy-and-paste text translation
  • Real-time translation collaboration
  • Project management workflow
  • Text-to-speech translated audio files
  • Maintaining a secure translation environment
  • Sharing translations with external applications via API

Premium vs. Free

Premium Translation Solutions

Premium translation software is made for organizations and individuals who need access to powerful translation technologies and online security. Organizations typically expect onboarding and human technical support while individuals usually have a DIY mentality and like figuring things out themselves.

Organizations and users pay for a specific feature set that helps them more efficiently achieve human-quality translations and/or adds value to their services and work.

Core Benefits of Premium Translation Software

  1. Streamlines translation workflow
  2. Yields significant cost-savings on producing human-quality translation
  3. Saves a lot of time and effort


Typical Plan Payment Options

  1. Month-to-month subscription
  2. Annual license (often offered with a discount in exchange for the commitment)
  3. One-time purchase for a fixed period of time or a certain amount of words


Factors that Influence Pricing

  1. Included features and functionality
  2. Volume of users
  3. Volume of words
  4. Duration of contract or subscription
  5. Customization


Free Translation Tools

Free translation solutions typically limit the user to receiving raw machine translation and are often feature-limited. This means they often do not include most of the desirable features that are powerful enough to provide a true benefit to the user in terms of speed, translation quality, intelligence, functionality and security or confidentiality.

Core Benefits of Free Translation Software

  1. No investment required
  2. Quickly provides a very rough translation of text
  3. No commitment required


Popular Features*

  • Batch File Translation
  • Automatic File Formatting
  • Copy & Paste Translation
  • Translation Memory (TM)
  • Translation Editing
  • Spellcheck
  • Translation Collaboration
  • Edit Tracking
  • Voice-Over Translation
  • API Access
  • Security
  • Compliance
  • Confidentiality

*Original Source: 15 Best Professional Translation Software Features to Look for

Web-Based Translation Applications

Web-based translation software, also commonly referred to as “online” or “cloud-based,” is accessible via web browser. The pros and cons of this type of translation application include the following.

Pros & Cons of Web-Based Translation Software


  • Easy global team collaboration
  • Access translations & translate from anywhere at any time
  • Compatible with multiple operating systems, platforms & device types
  • Easy API access
  • Scalable
  • Real-time updates to new versions of the application
  • If the application has a web-first design, it’s likely to be more intuitive
  • Pricing structure typically allows for cost savings


  • Many solutions don’t have adequate security
  • Cannot access translations & translate without the internet
  • If a user has a slow internet connection, the application responds slowly
  • API’s usually require a developer on the client side to implement. Have to write code.
  • Cost increases as the number of users increases
  • Software sometimes changes very quickly and with little notice
  • Web-first applications may not ship proper Android and iOS apps
  • You typically pay for each user

Desktop Translation Applications

Desktop translation software is installed on the user’s desktop computer and is only accessible locally on that device. The pros and cons of this type of translation application include the following.

Pros and Cons of Desktop Translation Software


  • Less prone to hacking and breaches
  • Responsiveness isn’t affected by internet speed
  • Oftentimes includes more features if they are a desktop-first application
  • Runs on your computer so you can work offline
  • Can save files and data to a local computer for ultimate security
  • Download new versions directly to your computer
  • Users can customize their user experience


  • Cannot access translations & translate from anywhere at any time
  • Device & operating system compatibility may be restricted
  • Uses a significant amount of computer memory
  • Initial installation & deployment may cause interruption to a user’s workday and/or require IT resources
  • Individual users must manage their own files and manually share when needed by others
  • Updates to new versions of the software are not real-time
  • Typically have high licensing fees per seat

More Translation Software Learning Resources

Did you enjoy this article? Continue reading more about translation software systems with the following related articles and video.