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Technical specifications

Translation memory
Supported languages
Document format
Other features
System requirements

Translation memory (TM)

Size: up to 500,000 Translation Units (TU) per TM. Note that Wordfast server, a free add-on to Wordfast, adds another whooping 200-million TU capacity.

Format: Wordfast uses either plain text (ANSI), or Unicode (UTF-16) TMs. The Wordfast TM format is open, straightforward, easy to read, maintain, share, and store. Practically any text editor can open a Wordfast TM. Microsoft Word can be used to manage TMs, but Wordfast itself offers tools to edit, compress, prune, merge, reverse TMs.

This open format means robust data, superior versatility and compatibilty. It is probably the most compact format in the industry: a Wordfast TM is typically three to four times less bulky than its competitors. This is important when vast collections of TMs are considered.

The Wordfast TM format has never changed: Wordfast versions 1, 2, 3, 4 all share the same format. This format is extensible for future features without destroying compatiblity with previous versions. Most other tools change format with every new version, revealing poor engineering, or sinister commercial plots.

Compatibility: Wordfast can read and write (import from, export to) the TMX format. The PlusTools free add-on also allows Wordfast to read (import) the Trados TXT export format, and the IBM Translation Manager EXP format.

TM engine performance: The Wordfast TM engine is built to spot exact and/or fuzzy matches in less than half a second in most cases. In case no fuzzy or exact match exists, Wordfast can retrieve expressions or text that has a relevance to the source segment being translated.

Integration: The Wordfast TM engine is totally integrated in Ms-Word: you don't need to run other applications.

Networking: Up to 20 simultaneous users can share the same TM over a LAN (Local Area Network).


Wordfast can use up to three simultaneous glossaries.

Size: the size of a glossary in Wordfast is virtually unlimited. It has been voluntarily limited to 500,000 entries. Most project-specific glossaries supplied by clients have far less than 10,000 entries.

Format: like the TM format, the glossary format is plain text (unicode or not), tab-delimited. It is therefore extremely easy to paste terminology into a Wordfast glossary with the clipboard. Wordfast can open the Trados MultiTerm glossary format to re-use the terminology there.

Features: Wordfast glossaries offer a full range of services, from querying a term or expression, to full-fledged terminology recognition that highlights known terms in the source segment in real-time.

Fuzzy terminology recognition: Wordfast can recognize exact or fuzzy terminology in glossaries. Glossaries can be used as they are, or fine-tuned with the use of wildcards to meet exact requirements. Wordfast's fuzzy terminology recognition engine can also automatically recognize various inflections of a term or expression.

Integration: Wordfast glossaries are totally integrated in Ms-Word - you don't need to run yet another application.

Networking: Up to 20 simultaneous users can share the same glossaries over a LAN (Local Area Network).

Supported languages

Wordfast can be used to translate any language supported by Microsoft Word. This includes Chinese/Japanese/Korean, right-to-left languages (Arabic, Hebrew), Cyrillic, in addition to all European, latin-based languages, Central European languages, Greek, various forms of Hindi, numerous minority languages etc.

Document format

Wordfast uses Ms-Word as text editor, thereby taking all formats recognised by Ms-Word. In addition, Wordfast can also be used to translate Excel and PowerPoint documents without the need of any filter or tagging device. Wordfast can handle HTML documents if the PlusTools freeware is installed, or if the HTML document has been tagged. Wordfast is compatible with the "tagged" format produced by RWS Rainbow, Trados Stagger etc., so Wordfast can easily be integrated in a Trados-based project architecture to handle FrameMaker, SGML, Quark Xpress, PageMaker etc formats.


Wordfast offers numerous QC features during the translation process, to minimize after-translation loss of time. A QC check can also be run after translation and produce a QC report that can help spot potential problems. The QC check is performed on typographical points, the respect of untranslatable terms, and the respect of terminology requirements.

Other features

Other features are just too numerous to describe here. Wordfast can use external, third-party dictionaries, can be linked to machine translation, offers Context search in the current TM, Concordance search (searching terms or expressions in a corpus of raw documents). Hundreds of other features can help customize Wordfast to specific projects. Ms-Word macros can be added to cater for the most demanding translation projects, opening infinite possibilities.

System requirements

The system (Windows 95...Window XP, Mac OS7...Mac OSX, Linux+Ms-Office) is not relevant.

Wordfast will happily run on any system that comfortably runs Microsoft Word 97 or higher. Wordfast is strictly an Ms-Word add-on, and uses no other resources (no DLLs, no runtime, no EXE files).

Supported Ms-Word versions are: Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002 (a.k.a. XP), Word 2003 as well as Word 98, Word 2001 and Word X on the MacIntosh. The better Ms-Word works (in speed, reliability etc), the better Wordfast works. Even a modest 120-Mhz Windows workstation running Ms-Word 97 will do fine. For the MacIntosh, a medium processor (500 Mhz) is recommended with OS7-9, and a fast one (1 Ghz) is recommended for OSX. See supported platforms for more detailed information on this topic.

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Yves Champollion translation localization consultant consulting. en français