How to Convert a Bilingual Multiterm Termbase into TMX File for Import into Translation Memory

I am often working on very large and complex projects with huge translation memories and big termbases. I tend to use the Concordance search extensively; despite Multiterm allows a fuzzy term search, this often does not meet my needs. Therefore, I usually convert the Multiterm termbases and import the individual terms into the active translation memory. This article explains how to perform such conversion.

Please note I do not claim this to be the easiest procedure, but it is the one that works.


  • SDL Multiterm (Desktop 2009/2011)
  • Microsoft Excel
  • SDLX (a part of SDL Trados 2007 suite; if you purchased SDL Trados Studio, you should have this software available)
  1. Start the SDL Multiterm application.
  2. Open the required termbase: Click the Termbase menu and select Open Termbase. This displays the Select Termbases screen. Click the Browse button and locate the source termbase. Select the termbase and click the Open button. Click OK in the Select Termbases screen.
  3. Click the Catalog button in the left lower corner of the screen. Click the Export item in the Catalog section on the left side of the screen.
  4. Right-click the Tab-delimited export definition item and select Activate in the drop-down menu. Right-click the Tab-delimited export definition item again and select the Process option. This opens the Export Wizard window.
  5. Click the Save As… button to the right of the the Export file field in the wizard and select the destination and file name for the exported file. Keep the TXT file extension. Press the Save button. 
  6. Press the Next button. The termbase will be exported into the delimited text file. Upon completion of the export process, press the Next button again. Click the Finish button on the last screen of the wizard. Close SDL Multiterm.

We now have a tab delimited file that we want to import into the translation memory. Let’s prepare the Microsoft Excel file as a source for conversion into TMX. 

  1. Start Microsoft Excel. Select File -> Open
  2. In the File Type drop-down menu, select All Files (*.*).
  3. Click the TXT file you have previously created by exporting the termbase from SDL Multiterm and select the Open button.
  4. In the Text Import wizard, select the Separator radio button and click Next. In the next screen of the wizard, select Tabulator as a separator and keep ” as a text qualifier. Click Next.
  5. Select all columns (click the first column, press and hold the Shift key and click the last column) in the Data Preview section. Select the Text radio button in the Column data format section. Click Finish.
  6. Now we have an Excel file with our data and have to delete the unnecessary records.
  7. In most cases, the target language data are located in column F, while the source language data in column K. You may want to check on this, as the column letters may change depending on the source termbase format.
  8. Let’ s assume our data are in columns F and K. Remove all other columns from the Excel worksheet. 
  9. The result is a bilingual Excel sheet. We have to exchange the columns with data, since the first one contains the target data and the second on the source data. Simply select and cut the first column and paste it after the second one. This leaves us with the empty A column. Delete it.
  10. Save the worksheet as an Excel file.

The last step of this process is converting the Excel worksheet into a TMX file for import into your translation memory. I described this in a separate article, but to give you a complete description on one place, here it is again:

  1. Save the XLS as Unicode Text File (txt). Close the XLS.
  2. Start SDLX. Choose Maintain component.
  3. Create a new SDLX translation memory. Select TM > New. Proceed according to instructions on the screen.
  4. In Maintain component, select TM > Import > Delimited Files. In displayed window, choose Add. Click Add Selection. Select the Unicode text file you exported previously from Excel. Click Open. Click OK and Next.
  5. In Import Wizard, select source and target languages and appropriate encodings. Click Next. In File Options screen, select Tabs option. If your Excel file contains column headers (names of languages), check the “First line contains column headers” checkbox. Click Next.
  6. In the next window, click on Source item in Available box, and click the right arrow to move it to the Selected box. Repeat the same for Target item. Click Next.
  7. In the next screen, select the “Add a new segment to the Translation Memory” radio button and click the Finish button.
  8. In the Create Indexes window, click OK. In Select Languages box click OK, if displayed languages are correct.

We now have a SDLX translation memory with the data from the Excel file. We will export the SDLX TM into TMX file. This is a fairly simple task.

Select TM > Export > TMX Format. Select All Languages and click OK. Click Next twice, select the export file (Browse, select location, and enter the file name (click Save)) and finish the process by clicking the Finish button.

Voil?, we now have a TMS file containing the data from the Multiterm termbase ready for import into your translation memory.

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One Response to How to Convert a Bilingual Multiterm Termbase into TMX File for Import into Translation Memory

  1. Giles Tilling says:

    Brilliant description – thanks very much indeed!

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