memoQ for the non-tech savvy – Part 1: Introduction & Review

Changing from Wordfast Classic to another CAT tool had been at the back of my mind for some time. Especially after I updated to the latest Windows and Word versions, which robbed Wordfast of some of its functionality and slowed it down considerably. And coupled with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the dictation software I prefer to use for all my translations, things would often come to a complete standstill and crash. Still I resisted because I loathe trying out new programs, resent the time it takes to set them up and learn how to use and fear something going horribly wrong.

Then one day, Wordfast refused to process an ordinary document because of its tags. Given that I’d translated plenty of texts with tags in them before with the tool, I was quite taken aback by this situation. But at least it finally galvanised me into action. As I knew memoQ rather than SDL Trados Studio was the CAT I wanted to try next, I went to the website and downloaded the latest program available at the time (version 8.1.7) for a free 45-day trial. I later bought the full licence with a group buy.

Installation with the wizard, creating a TMX file of my Wordfast memory and transferring this over to memoQ were all relatively painless (although some parts of the memory were not exported properly, which I believe is a Wordfast rather than a memoQ problem). The tougher part is using the CAT to translate your first document with a looming deadline. As a long-term user of Wordfast accustomed to a much easier tool with far fewer ribbons and buttons, suddenly being immersed in the memoQ environment was a bit of a shock.

There’s a wealth of training materials (manuals, webinars, blog posts) out there on memoQ. And that’s part of the problem for people like me whose brains switch off at the thought of being overloaded with technical information. The introductory video (which I’ve only just watched after a few months of using memoQ) lasts an hour and contains way more details than you need to start using the tool. The Getting Started Manual is over 30 pages long. Again, I’m reading it now to help me write this series of posts. I also recently attended an afternoon workshop on memoQ with ITI Wessex and picked up some good tips (thank you Karen Rutland).

This might seem the wrong way round to do things for some colleagues. But with my time constraints, it made more sense to get to grips with memoQ’s most basic features first by translating a few jobs and then learning some of the finer points later when I’d already had some hands-on experience with the tool.

One of the fastest ways to get help with a memoQ query is to type it into Google. And if that gives no joy, there’s a memoQ users group you can join on Facebook, a memoQ group on LinkedIn and a memoQ support forum on If none of this helps or you need a problem solved fast, contact Kilgray support.

The big plus with memoQ over Wordfast is that it handles tags, tables of contents and photos seamlessly. No longer do I need to worry that Wordfast has mucked everything up and made images disappear or shifted them from one part of the document to another. And that really is a huge relief. My new CAT also processes headers, footers and footnotes. Wordfast never recognises these and they have to be translated separately outside the tool, copied and pasted into a separate document, translated using Wordfast, cleaned and then copied and pasted back into the translation. Yes, it’s tedious!

I think it’s definitely worth the effort to persevere with memoQ because it has far more features than the less complex Wordfast, which, once learned, can speed up the translation process and improve the quality of the final document. The tool is also better at handling more complicated formats as well as Excel and PowerPoint files. Although my Wordfast memory didn’t transfer over to memoQ as smoothly as I would have liked, which means I will have to align documents and/or keep looking up terms and phrases in my previous CAT, I’m happy I made the switch. And, as I often feel after trying new software and getting to grips with it, I wish I’d tried it sooner.

In memoQ for the non-tech savvy – Part 2: First Translation I show you how easy it is to start translating with memoQ.

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15 thoughts on “memoQ for the non-tech savvy – Part 1: Introduction & Review

  1. I agree with you Nikki that MemoQ is anything and everything you will ever need in a CAT tool. If you’re computer savvy, you can set up your own rules with regular expressions, and being able to dictate right into the application with Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a major plus.

    Also, MemoQ has been the default “platform” for many translation agencies, so if you already have it, you don’t have to do any fiddling to make things work.

    So why do I prefer Wordfast over MemoQ? I own both of them. I’ll tell you why: MemoQ will occasionally throw these baffling errors at you, and the only thing you can do is kill the program and try again, and hopefully it will work. Once a file has been imported, it no longer belongs to you. You can’t open it with Microsoft Word. And I find this scary.

    You see, the simplicity of Wordfast, which you mentioned in your post, includes file formats. With the Classic version, you never leave the Word environment. With a few workarounds, you have both source and target texts and are not in jeopardy of losing anything. With the Pro version, all you have to do is export a bilingual RTF table. Sure, you’re going to lose formatting, but you still have your file without having to contact anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Reed, as I mentioned in the post, Wordfast wouldn’t let me translate a document one day, so I swapped over to memoQ to see if that would work and also to find out what everyone has been raving about for so many years.
    I have had a major problem with memoQ already when it wouldn’t export a file. But I’ll keep that story and how I managed to work around it for later in the series.


  3. This was an interesting read because I’m still considering which CAT tool to commit to, having flirted with Trados (didn’t really hit it off) and Wordfast Anywhere (a far less demanding relationship but possibly not for the long term, especially given confidentiality issues of cloud-based tools). Can I ask which version of Wordfast was causing you problems Nikki – was it Classic?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. To me, Trados feels like it’s been designed by a committee of thousands – yes, it can do pretty much anything but there doesn’t seem to have been any thought given to the end experience for the user. If I ever buy it, it will be because I have to rather than want to!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a dual Wordfast Classic/memoQ user.

    I still actually use WF memories as the permanent version of TMs, and just create a TMX and whack it into memoQ when I want to use it. At the end of the project, I get memoQ to create a bilingual file, remove all the tags and nonsense, then cleanup in WF to update the TM.
    Sounds a bit long-winded written down, but it isn’t really, and it means I have TMs I can open and read (and edit) in any text editor.

    Think it’s useful to have more than one option generally. I do like memoQ, but it is getting bloaty and I gather the new release leaves something to be desired.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Charlie, interesting. I had problems adding my Wordfast TM to memoQ and was notified of errors. It’s also obvious that I’m not getting some matches as some of my work for repeat clients is quite repetitive and memoQ is not showing me these 100% matches. I guess you’re right that it’s useful to have more than one option (in case all goes wrong with one of them I assume).
      How do you decide whether to do a job in Wordfast or memoQ?
      Can’t you edit memoQ memories?
      Could you be more specific about complaints about the latest memoQ version?


      1. Yes, that is why I keep both active. I did have to switch out of memoQ and do a job in WF earlier this year (although I forget why exactly!).
        If the job is a no-frills Word doc, I use WF. If it’s got lots of bits and bobs (footnotes, especially, but also large use of colours and formating in one sentence), I use memoQ, and all Excel & PPT are done in memoQ.

        You can indeed edit memoQ memories (just tried it for the first time!). I just (currently) like the simplicity and flexibility of having a simple .txt file as my main storage, not some proprietary format (memoQ or otherwise) or some bulky beast that is quite difficult to read (.tmx).

        I had the impression that memoQ 8 was not very stable when first out, for one thing. For another, quite big for me, they changed how shift+F3 to toggle through cases worked – now brings up menu & you select an option, so I hear. Because French loves to capitalise company names and surnames where we don’t, and ‘cos I do a lot of corporate stuff so it happens a great deal, I use shift+F3 a lot (ditto in WF, where it works normally). There are others but that one hit a bit of a nerve for me, as being very much in contravention of the “if it ain’t broke…” maxim. I like memoQ, but perfect it is not (ditto WF).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Nikki,
    I’m curious to find out why you did not try Wordfast Pro 5 when Wordfast Classic was causing you problems? If you own a Wordfast Classic license, upgrading to Wordfast Studio (WFP + WFC) costs between €25 and €100 (depending on where you live and work and if you upgrade while renewing your license or not). This is obviously a much cheaper option that purchasing another tool. So I imagine it has nothing to do with price. Wordfast Pro 5 is similar to MemoQ in that it handles all sorts of file types and especially files with tags. It also has much more advanced quality control functions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi John, probably because it didn’t even cross my mind and I was getting a bit fed up with Wordfast anyway. I’d also heard so many good things about memoQ and had been encouraged to try it by lots of colleagues.
      I really don’t know anything about Wordfast Pro and if you’d like to write a guest post for my blog about it, please get in touch.


  6. Ah yes, they always say, don’t they, that you should never start with a new TM tool when you’re under stress or time pressure. And how many of us ever actually take that advice? Not me, for one 🙂 . I’ve had DejaVuX 3 sitting on my computer for ages, and am still using DVX2, trying to find a good moment to switch, because there are significant differences between the two that I will have to get accustomed to (and DVX4 is now about to be released!).

    Best of luck with the new software, Nikki. I do find your problems with WF a bit worrying-sounding, but then I’ve never used it, so don’t know what it’s like as a tool, except that a lot of people seem to like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Alison,
      Given that I don’t like new software, I only seem to try new programs out when I have to! Good luck with your switch to DVX3. I tried Deja Vu ages ago because a client wanted me to use it. That was way back when I didn’t have my own CAT and I can remember not liking the experience at all (but not why), so I didn’t buy it.
      I’m pretty sure the problems with Wordfast have been caused by incompatibilities with Windows, which will probably get ironed out. But in the meantime, I’ve done a switch I’d been thinking about for ages. Let’s just hope I don’t live to regret it!


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