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September 19, 2023

The glossary is your key to better translations. Whether you’re working with human translators or using automatic translation, the glossary helps you clear up ambiguities and get accurate translations from the start.

Your website’s content likely contains words, phrases, or names with multiple meanings. For both human translators and automatic translation, these words can pose a challenge.

With the glossary, you can add the context and correct translations for such words. This lets you maintain consistency in your translations and ensure the high quality of your website’s multilingual content.

On This Page:

How to Create Glossary Entries

You can easily add glossary entries and translations into each language by going to WPML → Translation Management. From there, click on the Tools tab and then the Glossary subtab.

  1. Click on the Add New Entry button.
  2. Provide the text you want to add to the glossary and add a description for it. The description is optional, but suggested because it adds context.
  3. Select the source language of the text.
Adding a new glossary term

In the next step, you need to define the type of text you’re adding and input the suggested translations. The type of text you add and your translation method determines how the translations appear in your secondary languages:

  • For any Name or Proper Noun you add, the text appears in the translations on your site exactly how you specify.
  • When you add a General term, the way the text appears in translations depends on your translation method. 
    • You can use the glossary with automatic translation if you use DeepL to translate your site. DeepL uses artificial intelligence (AI) to adapt the translation to the text. It makes sure the term uses correct grammar and follows the right sentence structure. This only works for languages DeepL supports.
    • For languages not supported by DeepL, translation engines Google Translate and Microsoft Azure, or your team of professional translators, the translations you input serve as recommendations.
Types of glossary entries and how the terms appear in translations

Managing Glossary Entries 

The glossary entries you add appear in a table in the Glossary tab. You can search through the entries and filter them by Type.

From the table, you can Edit each entry. This allows you to:

  • Modifying the glossary word or phrase in the original language 
  • Change the glossary entry Type
  • Edit the translations for each secondary language

You can also remove the entire term and all its translations by clicking the Delete button.

Managing glossary entries in the Glossary table

Inserting Glossary Entries into Translations in the Advanced Translation Editor

When you use the Advanced Translation Editor to translate a post or page that includes terms from your glossary, you can see and insert the translations you specified in the glossary.

In this case, you will see the word highlighted in blue with a thin box around it. Hovering your mouse over the word will show you the suggested translation for it.

Hovering over a highlighted glossary term in the Advanced Translation Editor

Similarly, when translating a sentence with defined terms, the Glossary terms icon in the Advanced Translation Editor shows as highlighted in black. Clicking on it reveals the glossary terms in the sentence.

Clicking on the glossary term icon when translating a page in the Advanced Translation Editor

How the Glossary Differs from Translation Memory

The glossary allows you to control how you translate specific terms. Meanwhile, WPML’s built-in translation memory stores words, sentences, or text segments that you’ve translated before.

For example, let’s say you change some text in your post or page content. When you edit the translation, you only need to translate the new or modified text. Translation memory applies the previously saved translations to the rest of the content automatically. This way, you don’t have to translate the same content twice.

Learn more about how translation memory works.