Benefits of Using Terminology Management Systems (TMS)

On the occasion of finishing the 10th edition of the Workshop III: Terminology Management with Translation Memories, offered by IULA, I have decided to devote this post to one of the primary aspects of the terminological activities, i.e. terminology management (TM). Basically, TM is a set of operations for the creation and maintenance of terminological data, targeting the broad community of translators, terminologists, interpreters, librarians, technical writers, journalists, lexicographers, philologists and linguists as well as specialists of different fields interested in the creation of glossaries for their respective disciplines.

It might sound odd but some institutions, even those organisations involved in terminology standardisation, today are still stuck in the paper world when it comes to controlled and standardised terminology. Some other individuals or terminological centres might have a partial paper-based and partial automatised work. There are often significant obstacles to overcome when implementing TMS. However, there are also many significant benefits that can be had once these systems are in use. Let’s see what a TMS does:

TM is a series of practices and procedures with distinct functionalities including (but not limited to) terminology compilation, documentation of terminology, information retrieval mechanisms and software tools for this purpose, thesaurus management, multilingual document generation, and many other activities with the aim of organising terminological documents, glossaries, and termbases. All these activities and the final product should be oriented to specific target users and terminology developers.

Terminology management is the process of documenting terms in a systematized and orderly fashion” (“Terminology Management: Why it Matters?“, Language Scientific). All activities connected to TM manifest the relation between terminology, informatics and information science. Many of us can remember the pre-computer days in the libraries, searching for specific books or resources through the card catalogue. For new generations, the physical card catalogue might be a strange material. However, for me, who is grown up in the libraries and among the bookshelves and the smell of paper and ink, this traditional system is so nostalgic. Still, I feel more comfortable reading print resources rather than digital and electronic documents. However, libraries throughout the world have undergone a significant transformation in the development of their collection, the presentation of bibliographic information and services. “The era of microform equipment, photocopiers, and the card catalog has been replaced with a growing array of hardware, software, and systems” (“How and Why Are Libraries Changing?“, Denise A. Troll, 2001).

In short, we may say that the information industry has evolved and developed. The information technology (IT) revolution has left drastic changes in many aspects and dimensions of the human life. Besides, the revolutionary potentials of the IT to process, store, disseminate and retrieve data have changed our measures. As a result of all global technological changes, terminology and terminography have also undergone an evolution from manual systems to technologically-driven systems. Innovative technologies are increasing the availability of information, and technological advances have offered the opportunity to automate many aspects of the terminological works.


A Terminology management system (TMS) is a software tool specifically designed to collect, maintain, and access terminological data” (Terminology Management Systems, Maria Pia Montoro). TM can provide answers to terminological problems by organising terminological resources, corpus creation, or data management. TM is not a purpose or objective, but a tool (or methodology) to achieve terminology and translation projects’ goals. TMS is necessary for translation projects, multilingual organisations, terminographical activities, terminology projects associated with term extraction and term analyses.

Some of the benefits of the use of TMS are:

  • Terminological consistency and accuracy (in translation projects)
  • High-quality translations
  • Increased quality content assurance and control
  • Efficient communication (in multilingual organisations or settings)
  • Glossaries created from automated extraction tools
  • Customised terminology solutions for organisations
  • Retrieving the most appropriate information with the least noise
  • The availability of hybrid systems for multipurpose applications
  • Increased customer satisfaction

Implementation of Terminology Management Systems

Now that we know what TM and TMSs are, and what a TMS does, we might need to know how to implement these systems. Creating and maintaining terminology databases are not easy and simple tasks. Often, it demands considerable knowledge of terminology, linguistics and familiarity with the various systems. Moreover, the implementation of these systems depends on the goals and the expectations of the individuals and organisations. Not all systems offer the same features and tools. However, “taking a proactive approach to terminology management lets you gain control, set higher standards, and empower translators to produce their best work with greater ease” (The Value of Terminology Management).

For implementing a TMS and for performing an effective TM, companies and organisations need to have or create a terminology team, or they might employ outsourced terminology management. For smaller organisations, it is more feasible “to use an external vendor for most terminology tasks” (Terminology Management: Neglect It At Your Own Peril, Uwe Muegge, 2010).

Creating a term database is associated with a number of methodological principles that are based on the theoretical approaches in terminology. For instance, a terminological work based on the General Theory of Terminology (TGT) is different to the work based on the Communicative Theory of Terminology (TCT). These two main theories of terminology would affect the entire practice of the TM to the extent that by applying one theory or another the final products (including the creation of the corpus, selection of terms, definitions, organisation and the presentation of the data) will be genuinely different.  Hence, it is essential to take into account which type of term database we need: i.e. concept-oriented or lexically-oriented terminological database, and which TM company or terminologist offers what we need.  Generally speaking, there is no preference for TMS types, and rather the decision should be based on the real and practical requirements of the project.

The Workshop III: Terminology Management with Translation Memories, has provided comprehensive tutorial units on the use of TM tools in the context of specialised translation. Taking into account the theoretical distinctions, the methodological problems and the dilemmas that might arise with terminology in the process of translation, this workshop intended to guide participants through the process of resolving terminological issues, producing and maintaining terminological glossaries, editing and manipulating the format of terminology glossaries to meet the requirements of different translation projects.


Author: BesharatFathi

Terminologist, researcher, learner, teacher,...

2 thoughts on “Benefits of Using Terminology Management Systems (TMS)”

  1. A great and very timely article!!
    It is surprising how so many translators take terminology for granted and are not truly delving into what it really is and what it entails.
    The online workshops and modules given by IULA are an excellent opportunity to look at terminology from a theoretical and practical perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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