Written on 11 July, 2023

Whether you are an individual seeking translation services for personal reasons or a business looking to expand your reach into international markets, understanding the terminology around translation can help you navigate the process more effectively. In this blog, we will demystify some of the terms that you may see when talking to our Sales or Project Management teams.



Before quoting on any project, we run an analysis of your files to generate an accurate wordcount and identify any sentences that are repeated, similar to or the same as content that we have previously translated for you. We can often use an analysis to provide you with a CAT discount.

Bilingual table

If your file contains text in uneditable images or diagrams and you are planning to recreate these once you have the translations, we can help by providing this text in a bilingual table format. This is a simple table in Word with the source language in the left-hand column and the target language in the right-hand one so you can easily see how they match up.

CAT tool

A Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tool is software used by translators to aid the translation process. It extracts the text from editable files and splits it into smaller ‘segments’ for the translator to work on, and allows the translation to be exported into its original format. Using CAT tools also allows us to store your translations in a translation memory for consistency on future projects and manage any preferred terminology in a termbase. Important note: a CAT tool is not a machine translation engine – although it helps human translators work more effectively, it does not do the translating for them.

CAT discounts

By using a CAT tool, we are often able to offer you CAT discounts. If we have already carried out a translation project for you, then those translations will be stored in our translation memory. When we analyse any new files in our CAT tool, we will be able to provide discounts on sections that are similar to content that we have already worked on, or on any sentences that are repeated.


DTP stands for Desktop Publishing and involves creating artwork in software such as Adobe InDesign. If you have content in this format that needs to be translated such as a magazine, leaflet or ad, you will need to arrange a typesetting step after translation to ensure the layout and formatting of the source document is faithfully replicated in the translated file, as the amount of text will expand or contract during translation. By assigning the DTP step to an agency like Surrey Translation Bureau, the file you receive will be ready to be published, with no formatting work needed on your side.

DTP check

If you already count on a colleague or partner for typesetting work and are happy to do this step yourselves after we have translated your content, this is an option too. In this case we would advise that you add on a DTP check. This involves the original translator or a speaker of the target language checking for typographical errors, errant line spaces or missing text that may not be obvious to a non-native typesetter. A DTP check is essential when working in languages with other scripts or writing systems, such as Arabic.


When editing, our linguists focus on the flow, tone and grammatical correctness of your text, to make sure it reads as naturally as possible in the target language.

File preparation

As our CAT tools cannot process uneditable files such as pdfs, if you are unable to send us original editable versions (such as a Word document or .idml file from InDesign), we will need to convert your file into an editable format before translation begins. When we ‘prepare’ your document, we look closely at the formatting to ensure all of the text has been converted and the layout matches the source file as closely as possible.

ISO certified

Surrey Translation Bureau is independently certified to the general business quality standard BS EN ISO 9001:2015, and to the translation industry standard BS EN ISO 17100:2015, meaning we have a quality management system in place that meets international standards. As part of this, all our translations are carried out by qualified linguists and undergo stringent quality control measures.


STB can provide legalisation services such as certification and notarisation, which includes our company certificate detailing our credentials as a professional translation agency and a Corporate Member of the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting). This is often required if a translation needs to be presented in an official context.


This is the process of adapting text between different variants of the same language to ensure it is suitable for the target audience, such as American to British English.


LSP stands for Language Service Provider and is another term for a translation agency.


MT refers to machine translation, which is the automated process of translating a text from one language to another using software and without human intervention. Some clients have built and train their own MT engines, while other options for machine translation include Google Translate or DeepL. Machine translation tools raise various questions regarding data privacy and quality, and at STB, all translations are completed by professional, qualified human linguists as standard.


PEMT stands for Post-Editing of Machine Translation, and it is also referred to as MTPE (Machine Translation Post-Editing). As part of this service, a human translator will edit the translation produced by a machine translation engine to ensure accuracy, consistency of terminology and style.


QA, or quality assurance, is run on every project. All translations are fed through our specialist QA software and checked by our project managers to help us check for potential errors in spelling, punctuation and consistency before delivery to you.

Relay translation

If you need a translation in a rare language combination, for example Indonesian into Italian, a relay translation may be the best approach to take. It involves translating the source file into a middle language (normally English) before translating into the desired target language.


Revision is an additional step after translation where a second linguist will check the translation for accuracy and style; the same way you might ask for a second pair of eyes on a key piece of copy before it is published. This service is highly recommended for texts that will be used in the public domain.

Source language

The source language is the one that is being translated from.

Target language

The target language is the one being translated into.


A termbase is effectively a glossary of terms, usually provided by the client. Translators can cross-reference against this glossary when using a CAT tool to ensure that that preferred terms are used throughout the project.


During a transcreation project, our linguists will move completely away from the wording of the source language and provide multiple creative solutions to ensure that your content has the same impact in the target language. Transcreation is suitable for short text such as slogans.

Translation memory (TM)

A translation memory is a database of all translations that have previously been completed. When we receive files for translation, these are analysed against your client-specific TM to ensure consistency of wording across your documents and so we can provide CAT discounts.

Urgency fee

If you have an extremely urgent project that we cannot feasibly complete within our standard timeframes, we may be able to work out of hours to deliver the translation to you for your requested deadline. An urgency fee may be charged in this case to cover the additional work.