How to translate your very first file in SDL Trados Studio 2014, 2015, 2017 or 2019

This post will walk you through your very first translation in SDL Trados Studio 2014, 2015, 2017 or 2019. 

I recommend doing a test run to get familiar with the basics before you take on your first paid project with Studio. There are lots of beginners’ guides and videos out there, but most are based on sample files and existing translation memories and termbases. Let’s make it even easier. We’ll start from scratch.

I suggest you write two or three sentences in a Word document in your source language and translate the file using Studio. For your very first test run don’t even use bold or italics. Let’s keep it dead simple.

Open Studio from your desktop.

(Click the screenshots for an enlarged view.)


  1. Go to the Welcome view
  2. Make sure you’re in the Home tab
  3. (Studio 2014, 2015) Click Translate Single Document and browse to your Word file. Click “open”. (Studio 2017, 2019) Drag the file into the box.


  1. Check that your source and target languages are correct. (In Studio 2017, reverse language directions if necessary)
  2. Click create (or Create Translation Memory) to set up a new Translation Memory (TM). Select New File-Based Translation Memory.

New Translation Memory window:

New TM

  1. Give your new TM a name. As this is going to be a test, you could just write “Test”.
  2. Browse to the place where you want to store the TM. I use a single folder for all my TMs, but you can store TMs in client, subject or job folders.
  3. Check that you’ve got the right source and target languages and variants (they have to match the languages you chose in the Open Document window).
  4. Tick the character-based concordance search if you want to search your TM by groups of characters. It’s useful for small TMs but results can get fuzzy if your TM grows very big. Unfortunately you can’t change this setting later. In Studio 2017/2019, click the box below too, “Support Fragment Alignment“.
  5. Now click Finish. In the next window click Close.

The Open Document window returns and you’ll see the new TM has been added and all the boxes to the right have been ticked. Click OK.

Added TM

The file opens in the Editor window.

  1. Start translating! Click in the first segment in the target column and type in your translation.
  2. Click Ctrl+Enter.(*) This will confirm the first segment, send it to the TM and move the cursor to the next segment.
  3. Translate the other segments.
  4. Save the bilingual .sdlxliff file (Ctrl+S). I suggest you save it in the same folder as your source file. In Studio 2019, the default file path is C:\Users\[username]\Documents\Studio 2019\Projects\DropFiles
  5. Save the target file (Shift+F12). Add a suffix to the file name to distinguish it from the source file.
  6. Finished! Close Studio by clicking Alt+F4.
(*) See Paul Filkin’s comment below.

I hope this step-by-step guide helps you with your very first translation in Studio. To learn more, I recommend going to the Get Started tab in the Studio Welcome view and checking out the videos and PDFs there.

This entry was posted in 1. The Basics, SDL Trados Studio and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to How to translate your very first file in SDL Trados Studio 2014, 2015, 2017 or 2019

  1. Pingback: (CAT) – How to translate your very first file in SDL Trados Studio 2014 | Emma Goldsmith | Glossarissimo!

  2. paulfilkin says:

    Great article Emma… just one comment I hope will be useful. The shortcut for confirming a segment will vary depending on the user profile you selected when you first installed Studio. So, the default profile is Ctrl+Enter. If I selected SDLX it would be just Enter, and if I chose the Trados profile it would be Alt+Add. There is an article here containing three html files that show you the defaults for each profile and of course you can customise them anyway : It is out of date as it was for 2009 and will be missing many of the new features in later versions, but for the basics it should be fine.
    I hope that didn’t add too much complexity to your nice and simple article but I’d hate to see someone struggling at this point because they had selected a different profile to you.

  3. Marta S says:

    Hi Emma,
    Thanks for the great post. Feels like you wrote it just for me:) I am a beginning translator trying to learn Trados. I love your blog; in addition to the all the helpful Trados posts, I am also enjoying other topics such as the EMA templates, the genetics glossary and the Cosnautas info. Looking forward to more this year. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

    • Hi Marta, Thanks so much for your positive feedback – the best I’ve received so far this year!!
      I hope future posts will live up to your expectations,
      ¡Feliz Día de Reyes y Feliz 2014!

  4. Lene Heichendorff says:

    Hi Emma,
    Thank you very much for your great blog and very, very useful tips and tricks! Everything is easy to understand and follow. I have – until now, I should say – one single, but recurring, problem with Studio 2014: The “Browse for folder” box does not appear when importing a package, and I would prefer to be able to choose the folder where I want the file to be saved. Again – thank you for your blog!

  5. Pingback: How to translate your very first file in SDL Trados Studio 2014 | Québec-Translation

  6. Pingback: Studio 2014: склейка файлов, изменение регистра текста, распознавание терминов | Тетради переводчика

  7. Rosario says:

    Hi Emma. Excellent blog, indeed. I’ve just followed your step by step clear instructions on how to proceed when using TRADOS STUDIO 2014 for the very first time. This is what I was looking
    for to avoid any silly or serious mistakes. I’m really beginning from scratch and want with all my heart to get on really well with my CAT tools and computer. I hope to learn a lot more with you and why not ? share useful information with you when I have my blog one day.

  8. Renata says:

    Really good instructions. I like using software intuitively, but with the complexity and the interface design (!!) of this tool, some reading up cannot be avoided. I really like the images, and I have created samll flowcharts for myself. Many thanks!

  9. Alejandra says:

    Hi Emma,
    Thank you very much for such clear explanation! I’d like to know if I can translate PDF files directly with SDL Trados 2014 instead of converting them into Word files (as in the case of Trados 2007).

    Thank you!

  10. kdeimling says:

    Hi Emma,

    Terrific post, which has helped me a lot — thanks! However, I’m still having trouble getting my TM to generate matches. When I do a concordance search, I get a highlighted term with a translation in the TM — for instance, for “monde physique,” it finds “physique” in the phrase “espace physique.” Since the segments don’t match, it doesn’t come up as a match. Is this the difference between a TM and a TB? I don’t understand the point of the concordance search, because it can tell me that the word is there, but I don’t see any way to insert it directly into my target text in editor. So far Trados has not sped up my translating at all because I’m not getting any matches, even though I have the level set at 65%. The LSPs I work with send me TMs, not TBs, and I’m really beginning to wonder about their usefulness when a simple segment like “monde physique” brings up no matches, even though “monde” and “physique” are both in the TM separately. Any suggestions? Am I missing something here?

    • Hi,
      Every time you move to a new segment Studio will look up the whole source and see if it can find a match. If your TM is small or the subject is different, it won’t find anything. That’s normal. That’s when concordance kicks in, either automatically or by selecting a source word(s) and clicking F3. If you find the word you’re looking for, you have to select it and then click Ctrl+Alt+F3 to insert it into your target segment.
      Termbases are good for special terminology that you want consistently translated a certain way, and TMs are like an enormous bank full of everything you’ve translated. So TMs are helpful because they offer 100% and fuzzy matches, and give you access to odd words too (concordance).
      Hope that helps,

      • Hi Emma,

        Thanks for your answer — I didn’t know how to insert from the concordance search, and this helps a lot. I guess I am still finding my way, but it is getting a bit easier.
        Looking forward to keeping up with your blog!


  11. kdeimling says:

    Hi Emma,

    Thanks for your reply, which clears up the concepts for me. I didn’t know how to insert a term from a concordance search, so this helps a lot. I am still finding my way in Trados but it is getting a bit easier. Looking forward to keeping up with your blog!

    All best,

  12. Laurence says:

    Wish I had read this a month ago, instead of fretting alone in front of Trados.
    You make it all look so much simpler!

  13. Max says:

    Hi Emma,
    Thanks for the excellent explanation, Trados should give you a job! I am finding Trados absolutely a total and expensive waste of time! Do you really find it useful for translating or is it just that more and more people are insisting that it be used and that it is difficult to get work without it? Also is it necessary to buy MultiTerm (more expense) in addition to Trados !!? Can Trados be used without MultiTerm? Sorry for all the questions but any answers would be much appreciated. Maybe I should just switch to MemoQ 🙂 You got my vote by the way!

    • Hi Max,

      All CAT tools have a learning curve when you start using one for the first time. I discussed this – and my personal experience (similar to yours) – in a video interview I gave earlier this year on Moira Monney’s blog:

      To answer your specific questions:

      Do you really find it useful for translating or is it just that more and more people are insisting that it be used and that it is difficult to get work without it?
      – I use Studio for all my work. None of my clients insist on Studio. A few send project packages, and I could actually process them in other tools if I wanted to (but I don’t!).

      Also is it necessary to buy MultiTerm (more expense) in addition to Trados !!?
      – Multiterm is included in your Studio purchase. It’s a separate download, but the same licence.

      Can Trados be used without MultiTerm?
      Yes, but you won’t be able to create your own glossaries (termbases).

      Maybe I should just switch to MemoQ 🙂
      – Most people try out demos of different CAT tools before deciding to buy one. So I recommend giving memoQ a try too. It’s a good tool. I use it for online memoQ projects occasionally. However, if you’re finding Studio a struggle, I suggest giving it more time first. You’ll probably face similar frustrations with any tool until you get to know it.

      You got my vote by the way!
      Great! Thank you!

  14. Hi everyone,

    Comments on this post are now closed. If you need help with Studio issues, I recommend the Studio User Community (use your SDL credentials to sign up), the Studio User group on Yahoo Groups or the SDL Trados support forum on ProZ.

    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.


Comments are closed.