Terminology Management

Terminology management is a core component of good quality translation. When done systematically, it increases translation accuracy, provides time savings for future language services and reduces overall costs.

What is Terminology Management?

Terminology management is the process of documenting terms systematically in order to achieve consistency and accuracy when creating technical documentation, building up marketing material, designing user interfaces or simply communicating with other colleagues. Proper terminology management guarantees that your organization speaks with one consistent and accurate voice.

Terminology management can be either a relatively simple process, such as building a list of terms, or a very complicated one, involving concept maps and diagrams of how terms are related to each other.

Why do you Need to Manage Terminology?

When it comes to terminology, there is never one single source of truth, especially if multiple teams or employees work on the same project. Inconsistent terminology leads to internal and external communication problems in organizations and can occur more frequently than you might think. 

Failing to manage terminology properly can confuse readers and even lead to poor product quality and usability. In heavily regulated industries like finance or life science, terminology issues could jeopardize customer safety or account for regulatory compliance risks.

Frequent Terminology Issues:

False Friends​

False friends are terms in different languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. Excited in English translates as emocionado in Spanish, while excitado means something totally different (aroused).

Absence of an Adequate Equivalent

How do you translate the untranslatable? When terms lack equivalence due to markedly different cultural contexts, what approach do you take: do you loan the word from the source language or do you use words that render the same meaning but which are intrinsically different?

Coining of New Terms​

In medical translation research such as clinical trials, it is very common to come up with new terminology that hasn’t yet been translated elsewhere.


The term strawberry in Latin America can be referred to as “fresa” or “frutilla” depending on the country.

Building up Terminology: Glossaries - Termbases

A termbase or glossary is a database containing terms usually related to a specific subject. Terms in a termbase are often bilingual and sometimes even multilingual. The list of terms is often related to a specific subject and can be either bilingual or multilingual. Here is a practical example:

Leveraging Technology

Taking terminology management seriously means going beyond the Excel spreadsheet. Defining, classifying and using terms during the translation process requires being equipped with state-of-the-art technology. At On Global, we offer two levels of terminology management services:


Glossary: meeting vocabulary

Junta inicial

Initial meeting

Junta anual

Annual meeting



Efectos perjudiciales

Harmful effects

Educación especial 

Special education

Terapia de habla

Speech therapy



Standard service:

We can store and manage your terminology directly on memoQ, our CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool of choice. memoQ offers basic functionality for terminology management that allows us to keep your translations consistent over time.

Premium service:

If you want to treat terminology as a corporate asset, we also offer a premium terminology management service using QTerm, which provides a single point of access to terminology within an organization and allows your in-house teams immediate access to the most up-to-date terminology.

What are the advantages of this service?

  • We can cross-link terms to indicate the relationship between each other (ex. Synonyms or Acronyms).
  • We can associate terms to a particular product or dependency.
  • You can always address our terminologists with questions directly on the system.
  • You can easily add or search for terms in your termbase or mark them as forbidden terms.
  • You can print your glossaries whenever needed.

Start to think of terminology as a corporate asset