Historical knowledge – what is tw4win?

If you’ve never worked with Trados Workbench (Trados up to version 2007), you might wonder why tools like SDL Trados Studio or memoQ mention the styles tw4winExternal and tw4winInternal in the filter settings for importing Word files.

tw = Translator’s Workbench, 4 = for and win = Windows (yes, there were also DOS versions of the first tools)

The Trados versions up to Trados 2007 were using Word (and later also TagEditor) for translation. This meant that everything you wanted to translate needed to be in a Word format like DOC or RTF.

To be able to show both, the source and the target language within one document, the tool would separate these with characters in purple that had a special style (tw4winMark).

Anything that should not be touched during translation could be marked up with a style named tw4winExternal (Word paragraph style), while tw4winInternal (Word character style) would be used to mark up elements in the text that should be treated as tags (comparable to the inline tags we use nowadays).

So what does that mean for us today? Well, you could still use a style called tw4winExternal to hide text from a Word file from translation in our current translation tools.

Here are the setting in SDL Trados Studio and memoQ.

These styles were also used in Wordfast Classic and the bilingual Word format from Translator’s Workbench was de facto one of the first “standard” formats to exchange bilingual translation files between users and tools.


And although it does not happen very often these days, but it did happen to me just recently that I received a Word file which probably has been re-used and edited for more than 10 years. SDL Trados Studio refused to import the file and gave a message that this file had the styles of the bilingual Trados format, but did not seem to be set up correctly.

This was because the styles list still contained some tw4win styles from previous processing with Translator’s Workbench even though they were not used in the document any longer. By deleting those styles, we were able to open the file in our translation tool again.