What Is a CAT Tool or Computer-Assisted Translation Software?

Patrick Burnett

In the world of translation, Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools have become an indispensable part of the workflow for professional translators and translation agencies. Simply put, a CAT tool is a software that helps translators to translate text more efficiently and accurately.

What is a CAT Tool?

A CAT tool is a computer program designed to help translators with their tasks. It is not an automated translation software like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator. Instead, it assists the translator in the translation process by providing various tools and functions that make the task easier and more efficient.

How does a CAT Tool work?

The basic principle behind a CAT tool is to break down the source text into smaller, manageable segments called “translation units.” These units may be sentences, paragraphs, or even individual words. The translator then works on each segment separately with the help of various features such as translation memory, terminology management, and concordance search.

Translation Memory

Translation Memory (TM) is one of the most important features of a CAT tool. It stores all previously translated segments in a database so that they can be reused in future translations. When a new project comes in, the TM searches for matching segments from previous translations and presents them to the translator for review and editing.

Terminology Management

Another key feature of CAT tools is Terminology Management. This feature allows translators to maintain consistency throughout their translations by creating glossaries of terms related to specific subject areas. The CAT tool checks each word against this glossary and provides suggestions for consistent usage.

Concordance Search

Concordance search is another useful feature that helps translators find specific words or phrases within their previous translations or source text quickly. This feature saves time by eliminating manual searches through large documents.

Benefits of using CAT Tools

CAT tools offer numerous benefits to translators such as:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Improved accuracy and consistency
  • Faster turnaround times
  • Cost-effective translations
  • Easier collaboration with other translators or agencies

The Future of CAT Tools

As technology continues to evolve, so will CAT tools. Currently, cloud-based CAT tools are gaining popularity, allowing translators to work remotely without the need for expensive software installations. Additionally, machine learning and artificial intelligence may be integrated into CAT tools, improving their overall functionality and accuracy.


In conclusion, a CAT tool is a valuable asset for professional translators and translation agencies. Its features such as Translation Memory, Terminology Management, and Concordance search make the translation process more efficient and accurate. With the benefits that come with using these tools, it’s no surprise that they have become an essential part of the translation industry.