A good starting point: SDL Trados Studio Starter Edition

SDL-Trados-Studio-2011-StarterI’ve often wondered whether SDL Trados Studio Starter Edition is a useful product for new Studio users. The features I enjoy so much seem to be the very ones that are missing in the Starter Edition. So I’m pleased to offer the other side of the story in this Guest Post by Allison Wright*, who explains why Starter Edition made sense for her.

After 25 years of translating, I purchased the Starter Edition last year mainly because a good agency with whom I wanted to work required it. I had always wanted to get SDL Trados, but had never quite managed to afford the cost of the full version.

I would recommend Studio Starter Edition because:

  • agencies usually send you a TM with the job they need doing, so you don’t need to carry out maintenance on it;
  • if they send you a termbase you can also use it (although you can’t create one with Starter);
  • you can familiarise yourself with the basic functions, and once you have done so, invest in the full package if you think it is worth it;
  • you probably will get more agency work.

With work for direct clients, you can use the “Open document” function to create your own bilingual files. Even though you do not have Multiterm with the Starter Edition, you can use the Concordance function (F3) to find previous instances of translations which do not show up as a match. This is quite useful!

With the Starter Edition the TM is limited to 5,000 TUs (translation units, or segments) per language pair, and you can have up to 5 language pairs. The limitation of only having one TM open at a time means that work done using an agency’s TM will not be saved to your own TM, and also you cannot open different TMs for different subject fields – with the objective of creating subject-specific terminologies of your own. What it does mean is that you can “save” those TUs for work you do for direct clients, but at the same time get lots of practice in using the CAT tool on all the work you get from agencies.

While the work I do is not always ideally suited to the kind of advantages CAT tools offer in terms of repetitions and so on, I find the format useful when revising texts prior to delivery using the QA checks, and to check that you have indeed translated everything. I very seldom translate anything without Trados anymore, unless it is a very short text, or once or twice when I have had “dead” PDFs to deal with. A number of my clients are not interested in how I translate. They are only interested in the finished product and therefore the use of a CAT tool does not enter into the discussion.

I have just ordered the full Studio 2011 Freelance Plus because my most translated language pair (De-En) is about to reach the 5,000 TU limit, while my other two language pairs still have some way to go. I feel confident that I will be able to get used to all the new functions because I am already familiar with all that the Starter Edition has to offer. More importantly, I am used to all the rather strange names that Trados gives to things, which made for a very steep learning curve when I first began using the Starter Edition! Help files give me headaches! Having said that, I have not undergone any formal training (other than attend a couple of beginner webinars which taught me one or two useful tips after I had battled through a lot of things on my own). Mats Linder’s Studio 2011 manual looks useful, too, according to Corinne McKay’s recent review.

You can renew your Starter Edition licence every year. When you upgrade to the full Studio Freelance version, you will receive a deduction on the price of the full edition for the unused portion of the Starter Edition licence. Here’s a link to the SDL product comparison page, which shows exactly what the Starter Edition includes, to help you make up your mind.

Allison WrightBio: Allison Wright is a German, French and Portuguese into English translator who tames her stray thoughts at That elusive pair of jeans.

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2 Responses to A good starting point: SDL Trados Studio Starter Edition

  1. Marie says:

    Thank you very much for this useful post. I’ve started working as a freelance translator , English to French and was wondering which version to use, there is such a big difference of price between the Starter and the Freelance Plus. I wanted to hear about pros and cons.

  2. Hi everyone,

    Comments on this post are now closed. If you need help with Studio issues, the place to go is the SDL Community Forum.

    If you’d like my advice about solving specific Studio issues or personal guidance as you start out with Studio, please click the contact tab above to arrange a consultancy session.


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