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Following on from the enthusiastic reception of my last Trados-related post about the Advanced Display Filter, I thought I’d take the time to write about another neat feature that I only discovered relatively late in my Trados career: the ability to work on multiple files. Once again, advanced users will have to fast-forward at this juncture, but in my experience it is often the simplest tips that can be most useful, especially if you’re relatively new to CAT tools.

You might wonder, as I did initially, why you would want to work on several files at once. Surely the point of a CAT tool is that it will apply any matches from the translation memory anyway, whether or not you have all the files open. Well, yes, of course it does. But if you’re working on a batch of related files, it can be extremely useful to be able to cross-reference across those files as you work. Say you come across an unknown term, especially an abbreviation, that bane of all translators’ lives, and can’t find it in your termbases or online searches, for example. By using the advanced display filter and with all the related files in the project open, you can ask Trados to show you just the segments containing that term. The term may be explained in more detail in another document, or there may be even be a glossary (you never know your luck!). Without having all the files open in Trados, you’d have to open each source file in turn and laboriously find the term in each one. Convinced yet?

There’s also the fact that matches will autopropagate as you work – assuming you’ve got the appropriate settings set up under File > Options > Auto Propagate: you should have ‘Autopropagate exact matches to confirmed segments’ checked. When working on multiple files, you can be sure that the latest version you’ve typed will be reproduced across all open files. This is especially important at the revision stage, where it’s very easy to miss the fact that a different version of a repeated segment has been used in another similar file as it won’t automatically propagate. It will alert you to the fact that there is a different version in the TM in the translation results window, but if you don’t happen to check, you could easily miss it. Better to be safe than sorry…

Autopropagate options

Under File > Options > Auto Propagate, you also have the option to select the starting position for Autopropagation. I have this set to ‘Next segment in document’, but you can also ask it to propagate from the ‘First segment in the document’, in which case it will retrospectively change segments you may already have checked. I find this a dangerous strategy as sometimes there are two (or more) correct ways of translating a segment, especially single-word segments, and you want to have the final say in each given context, not Trados. By only propagating forwards, you will always be able to check what’s changed as you work.

I find that the format of numbers and letters sometimes changes back once you’ve confirmed them, so autopropagation can be a double-edged sword in such cases. My source languages often have a space between the number and the % sign or Β°C. When I change it in one segment, I find that Trados often reverts all instances other than the exact same number to the source format because of the way it processes numbers. If you propagate from the start of the document, this can inadvertently undo all your good work – just a word of warning for any document, let alone multiple files!

One of my clients has a habit of responding to term queries very late in the process, so I may well have completed my draft versions of a number of files before the answers eventually arrive. Again, by opening multiple files , I can find all instances of the queried terms across all files and change them quickly and consistently – ingenious.

So how do you open multiple files? Simple! Having created your project, to which you’ve added two or more related files, double-click on the project name in your list. You should then see a list of the files in your project. At this point you’d normally double-click on the file you want to work on, or highlight the file and click on ‘Open for translation’ at the top (or by right-clicking). To open multiple files, just press and hold the Control key and click on the files you want to open until they are all highlighted and then click Open for Translation.

Multiple files

Lo and behold, the files will now open in the Editor in one long list, with each file separated by a small orange bar at the beginning and end of each one telling you which file you’re working on. When you come to save them, each file is still saved as the individual file: this is purely a way of having an overview of all the files as you work. You can still open the individual files at any time if you wish.

You can also decide which order you want to work on the files, something I only discovered in a recent project! Instead of being bound by the order of the files in the Trados list, the files are added in the order you click on them, so if you want to return certain urgent files first, or work through them in size order, or interest order for that matter, you have that power!

I hope I’ve convinced you – good luck!

Quizzical Leo II