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Walker, Andy (2014). SDL Trados Studio – A Practical Guide.

New York-London: Packt Publishing, pp. 196, £27.98 (Print + free eBook and PacktLib access to the book), £8.99 (eBook). ISBN: 978-1-84969-963-1.

When deciding to invest in a Translation Environment Tool (TEnT) (Zetzsche 2008), several decisive factors need to be taken into consideration by prospective translation professionals, i.e. clients’ requirements, software user-friendliness, its price, its return on investment and access to supporting materials (e.g. user guides and/or fora) which can help first-time users and seasoned professionals alike to familiarise themselves with the various features of the tool, including troubleshooting.

When the new SDL Trados Studio came out in September 2013, much attention was focused on the revamped tabbed interface which took into account users’ feedback on translation fora and suggestions made in SDL’s Ideas section on their corporate website. It is probably with those same users in mind that Andy Walker and his team of technical reviewers developed this SDL Trados Studio – A Practical Guide.

Software documentation is aimed at ‘help[ing] its readers to use the software in question’ (Byrne, 2006:54) and while the original Trados Quick Start guide - available through the main Studio interface - and its product pages available online are a fine specimen of technical writing written by technical writers for non-necessarily technical users, Walker’s guide relies on an expert team of well-known and highly skilled translation professionals ─ some of which are also Trados trainers, like Walker himself ─  for clarity and sound technical advice.

The book is available as both e-book and in print format. The latter also gives you access to the e-book on the publisher’s website. There are a total of 8 chapters and 2 appendices, accompanied by a set of downloadable and translatable sample files in order to help users practise with the features illustrated in chapters 3-6. Each chapter provides a breakdown of the relevant feature, from initial setup of the software to translating a single file (with and without formatting tags), to working with projects. Steps and procedure are clearly explained, with the relevant terminology (projects, packages, batch tasks, etc.) properly referenced throughout.

As specified in the foreword, this guide has ‘a really practical focus’ (5) and this is exemplified in the ‘tips’ provided throughout the chapters, which also ‘anticipate the types of mistakes readers are likely to make and warn them well in advance before they make these mistakes’ (Byrne, 2006:52), as is expected of this type of documentation. This is particularly evident in Chapter 2, when mentioning the implications of using machine translation providers (22), or in Chapter 3 (32), when advising on how to type accented characters (a common problem in classrooms with multilingual cohorts), or in the same chapter (42), when advising on how to add line breaks inside a segment (something that can be useful when the level of adaption of the target text is higher than what is normally required).

What made this guide stand out for me, however, is a whole chapter (Chapter 5) dedicated to Word Counts and Billing Information, which provides excellent information on how to read the “Analyze Files Report” ─  the report generated when creating projects or when translating a single file ─  and how to use it for invoicing purposes. This is probably the section in which the previously mentioned ‘practical focus’ is most evident, since it helps translators understand figures and create invoices which are key to generating income for their business.

Unlike the official Trados documentation available on the Internet, Walker’s guide includes a whole chapter on terminology management (Chapter 8), which is normally covered separately and/or at intermediate level in the current literature. Mention of the Glossary Converter (135) will be particularly appreciated by translators whose work relies heavily on terminology creation/management and whose glossaries need to be implemented in their translations while using Studio.

The appendices are also quite unique content-wise, in that they include topics which are usually to be found in intermediate-to-advanced-level guides, i.e. working with files from earlier versions of Trados and managing translation memories. Any translator who has worked with SDL software will know that translation companies’ transition to current versions of Trados has not always been immediate or straightforward, therefore translators need to be fluent in importing/exporting TMs as well as converting previous file formats into current ones, which is why the information included in the appendices will come in handy.

Overall Walker’s book is suitable for a wide range of Studio users, from beginners to more expert users, to Trados trainers; students and users can therefore rely on a more user-friendly guide than the one currently shipped with the software, safe in the knowledge that this book addresses doubts and issues experienced by other Trados trainees/users around the world, to which Walker and his team provide clear, matter-of-fact solutions.

  • Byrne, Jody (2006). Technical Translation: Usability Strategies for Translating Technical Documentation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, Springer.
  • Zetzsche, Jost (2008). The Translator’s Tool Box: A Computer Primer for Translators. International Writers’ Group, LLC.


Piero Toto
London Metropolitan University