My Termbase Cheat Sheet

cheatingLearning the Do’s and Don’ts of termbase creation is not always easy, especially because there are so many little details that may escape your attention in your busy daily life. So what better way to make sure you have a reliable and clean termbase than having a Cheat Sheet?

What may be included?

  • Term usage (preferred, admitted, prohibited [deprecated], —as per ISO 0241-1
  • Terms (one term, not two), don’t include more information (Additional information should be placed in separate field). All validated?
  • Phrases
  • Verbs
  • Synonyms
  • Trademarks, product names
  • Country ID
  • Abbreviations/acronyms
  • Different spelling or hyphenated words
  • Terms with more than one possible translation or meaning
  • Definitions (make them short not encyclopedic; only one definition)
  • Additional information that explain the term
  • Translated terms in every language (validated)
  • Source
  • Author

Data Categories: There are no strict rules on the number of categories. It depends on each specific project.

  • Common categories include: subject field, term ID, term, term usage, part of speech, definition, context (example), source, author, and date. Note: These data fields are useful for filtering and exporting. They should be designed to have unlimited size so that free text (like definition and context fields where you can manually enter text) may be easily entered. Other data fields, like pick lists –used for parts of speech, subject areas, or dates that you choose from a drop-down list– facilitate database updating.
  • Minimum categories as per ISO 12616: Term, Source, Date
  • ISO 12620 catalogs almost 200 categories

Follow the golden rules: (See my previous post for more info)

  1. There should be one entry per concept and one designator per concept. Homographs are treated as separate entries, while synonyms are all kept together with the concept they share in the same entry. (Concept Orientation Principle).
  2. A concept should always refer to one term only (Univocity Principle).
  3. A termbase must contain the same group of fields for each term (Term Autonomy Principle).
  4. Every information field must contain only one type of information (e.g., the acronym field should only have acronyms; the definition field only should have the definition, etc.) (Data Elementarity Principle).

Keep your termbase clean

  1. Avoid doublettes: double entries for the same term.
  2. Check for outdated category information (terms no longer used in the company/field that need to be updated/replaced with new terms and re-validated)
  3. Check term usage status (Should a term go from accepted to deprecated or from accepted to preferred?)
  4. Watch out for spelling errors in terms.
  5. Subject matter experts are not language experts. Check their material for errors.

Don’t use separate entries for:

  • singular and plural forms (e.g., “asset” not “assets”)
  • longer and shorter forms (e.g., “full absorption costing” versus “absorption costing”)
  • hyphenated and non-hyphenated forms (e.g., “Euro-bond” versus “Eurobond”)

If doing an Excel glossary, before exporting, make sure:

  • Glossary columns must have a title (boldfaced and uppercased for ease of reference and languages in English: ENGLISH, SPANISH, FRENCH, PORTUGUESE).
  • Delete any blank rows.
  • All data related to the same concept are included in the appropriate cell (synonyms, comments, etc.).
  • Make sure each language column has information in that language only (e.g., a definition in Spanish should not be placed in a Portuguese term entry)

Add a comment if you have more tips for my cheat sheet!

DOWNLOAD HERE! My TermBase Cheat Sheet

4 Comments on “My Termbase Cheat Sheet

  1. Thank you, Patricia, this is a great summary! And I like the handy PDF, too. I’m very impressed that you’re one of only four active terminology bloggers!

  2. Thank you Patricia. I have studied terminology at school and I was fascinated. I love doing the research that comes with it. Later on, I have been busy trying to start my translation business but I feel like I should give a try to this kind of diversification. Your posts are always very helpful. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Jayne. I had missed to read it before. I apologize for that. Yes, I’m proud to be one of the few blogs on terminology. I would like to see more out there, and our goal is to raise awareness about terminology so hopefully someone else will come out and do it.

    To Enrico, I´m glad that you enjoy my posts and to know that we share a common interest. Feel free to comment on my posts at any time.

    Regards, to both of you.


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