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What is a translation segment?

What is a translation segment in a CAT tool?

What is a translation segment?

Segmentation is the process used by CAT tools to divide the source text into smaller fragments of text, called segments. The CAT tool searches in the translation memory to see if these segments have already been fully or partly translated in the past. This process is therefore carried out according to specific rules that can be adjusted depending on the type of file and CAT tool. The ultimate goal is to achieve the highest number of matches in the translation memory and thus reduce the translation costs.

How does the segmentation process work?

The CAT tool divides the text into sentences or paragraphs according to the type of file that you wish to process.

In most cases, it is best to divide the text into sentences. The CAT tool identifies the sentences in the source text according to a series of punctuation marks: full stops, line breaks, exclamation and question marks, colons and semi-colons.

In the case of tables and lists, it is best to divide the text into paragraphs.

This process is extremely important as the CAT tool will search for these segments in the translation memory to determine whether they have already been translated or not.


How to optimise the segmentation to reduce translation costs

The yield of the segmentation of a text is based on the quality of the source text. It is very important that punctuation marks are used in the correct way as that allows the CAT tool to divide the text correctly and locate a higher number of matches in the memory.

Wrong segmentation

Good segmentation

Below is a list of points that should be taken into account when writing the source text so that the segmentation process works correctly, thus leading to increased reuse of the memory.

1. Do not use paragraph breaks to divide parts of the text in the document. The CAT tool identifies the paragraph break and thus segments the text. If a paragraph break is used to divide a title into two lines, for example, the CAT tool will identify the title as two independent sentences. In the case that this title has already been translated in the memory, the CAT tool would not detect it, because the source segment would not match the previous translation. The cost of translation of that title would therefore be higher. If you have to divide the title, do so with a forced line break as you can then configure the CAT tool not to divide the sentence.

2. Use exclamation and question marks correctly.

3. Ensure that all sentences are written with a full stop.

4. Avoid the use of abbreviations.

5. Do not enter numbered lists manually. Use the automatic feature of the word processor.

6. Ensure that the columns have been applied correctly.

7. Avoid the use of indentations.


As you can see, small details can reap important benefits. If you would like us to advise you on the writing of your technical documentation or if you need to translate a document, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be more than happy to help you reduce your translation costs!



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