Simple guide to working with Tags in Studio

There are a couple or three ways to add tags into your translation using Studio, and they can be applied using the mouse or using the keyboard.  This article is just a simple introduction to using tags in Studio.

Setting the display options and understanding the tags

First of all let’s consider the following: 
This sentence is made up of tag pairs and placeholders.  You can tell the difference between them because a tag pair always has a starting tag and an ending tag formatted as follows:
Start tag with the right hand end pointed :

End tag with the left hand end pointed;

Placeholder with flat ends:

Sometimes, especially if you are working with PDF files you can have a lot of tags which can make the sentence difficult to read and make it tricky to make sure you are placing the right tags into the right place in the target translation.
So, a quick tip is to use the formatting display toolbar to change the way they look.  You can find this toolbar in the top of the Studio display when the file is open in the Editor… it looks like this:

The different options in this toolbar are as follows:

So depending on how busy the text is and how well you wish to see the tags there are several options here for displaying them.  The last one, Ctrl+Shift+H, is very useful because as you can see the formatting tags around the word “sentence” and the word “tags” disappear if I toggle this on an off.  Studio has a WYSIWYG capability for known formatting tags and this is sometimes the reason for users creating a bit of a tag soup in the target and potential mismatches with the source.  We’ll look at that in a minute after we review the last option, the Tag ID.

This is probably (in my opinion) the best way to work with a taggy document and this is because each tag is given an ID that is unique throughout the document making it very simple to make sure you select the correct tag pair or placeholder and use it in the target column.  So a tag pair will have two tags with the same number and showing the pointed ends in opposite directions, and a placeholder will have a single tag.
There is one more setting relating to working with tags, and that is in the Tools – Options dialogue here:

This controls the default for the Ctrl+Shift+H and also determines whether you want the WYSIWYG effect on or off.  I think this is really a matter of personal preferences and I know translators who prefer to always work with no formatting at all (so plain text) and all the tags showing, and I also know those who work with all tags showing and the formatting.  The plain text option would look like this:

So this option starts to look more like Tag Editor, with the plain text, and will be a consistent view no matter what kind of document you work with… really a case of “horses for courses” I think.

Placing Tags

With the mouse

There are several ways to work with the tags in your target segment.  I’m going to leave the formatting as showing all tags but not formatting for this exercise, and will work in Tag ID mode because I hope it will be easier to see what I’m doing.  First let’s consider the mouse.  This technique is handy if you like to type the translation first and add the tags later.  So my starting point is like this (I don’t want the language to confuse here so I am translating English to English for clarity):

To add the first tag pair to the word sentence I can highlight the word “sentence” in the target segment and the move the mouse over the words in the source.  As I move over the word I’m interested in, in this case “sentence”, I press the Ctrl key and you can see the relevant word and associated tags are highlighted like this:

I then press the left mouse key and the tags are added to the word I highlighted in the target like this:

So I can work through the segment adding tags like this, quite quickly and easily.  If I don’t select the word in the target first then the tags will be inserted wherever the mouse was in the target like this:

With the keyboard

Another way to add the tags is to use the keyboard.  So I can highlight the word and then press Ctrl+comma:

This brings up a list of all the available tags in the segment and I can select the one I need with the keyboard and press enter.  This will then surround the word with the appropriate tag pair.  If I don’t highlight the word then only one of the tags, the first one from the pair, will be inserted and the second one will be displayed in a faded format like this:

This is what Studio refers to as a “Ghost Tag”.  This is simply telling you that you have entered the first tag and that there is another required in order to correctly finish off the tag pair so it matches your source segment.  This is probably better when you add the tags as you work because you may type like this:
This -> space -> Ctrl+comma (and select the first tag) ->sentence->Ctrl+comma (and select the closing tag)->space etc…
Alternatively you can automatically ensure the correct closing tag is being used with Ctrl+fullstop and then you don’t even have to select the closing tag at all.  So the above sequence would become this:
This -> space -> Ctrl+comma (and select the first tag) ->sentence->Ctrl+fullstop->space etc…
I can then work through the rest of the segment like this finally adding placeholders, such as Tags ID #4 and #5, that are added the same way although normally you’d add them one at a time:

In this case the two tags are actually bookmarks from MS Word and these are logically linked, so they can be added as a single Group rather than having to add them as separate placeholders.  Studio will organise this for you.

Using Quick Inserts

Studio also has many formatting and special symbol options that can be added to your target segment from the Quick Insert Toolbar here:

I quite often see Translators using this toolbar to apply the formatting that is controlled by the tags in the source, rather than using the appropriate tags.  I think the reason for this is that when you choose to display the formatting and hide recognised formatting tags then you don’t see the tags.  So for example in this sentence I may choose to use the Quick Inserts to apply the bold and italic text like this:

All looks fine, but if I display the formatting tags using Ctrl+Shift+H then I see this:

So you can immediately see that the target segment is not using the same tags as the source.  In this case you would not have a problem because the Quick Inserts are all supported for this format (MS Word), but sometimes, particularly if you create your own custom quick inserts you might add something that is not supported in the target file… when working with XML files for example.
If you always transfer the tags appropriately, and use the Quick Inserts sparingly to emphasise words that need to be emphasised in the target text and not in the source, then you won’t go wrong.  So this segment should rather look like this where the formatting is still as required:

Other ways to handle the tags

Just a final mention of two obvious ways to manage the tags.  First you can copy and paste tags by selecting them in the source and copying and pasting as you would text… and secondly you could simply copy source to target for the entire segment and then translate in-between the tags (Ctrl+Ins).  I have met some translators who prefer to work this way and always show all the tags from the start.
You can of course find more information on how to work with Tags in the SDL Trados Studio help.

39 thoughts on “Simple guide to working with Tags in Studio

  1. And another handy trick I recently noticed: As an alternative to Ctrl + , you can also simply type in the open tag bracket (<). This will also open the list of available opening tags. Very handsome as you don’t need to remember any shortcuts.

  2. Nice one Stefan… I didn’t know that one..! It doesn’t highlight the source so you have that little extra information which Ctrl+, gives you, but it does give you a single shortcut for any placeable so more than just tags.

  3. Do the tags need to be numbered identically in source and target? Can you have opening and closing tags numbered 1 and 2 in the source segment, and then have matching tags numbered 3 and 4 in the target segment, or do the numbers need to match? Also, if you cut and paste from elsewhere in the document, or from the TM search window, the tag numbers don’t seem to update, even though the tag *data* is fine…

  4. Hi Paul. Yes the tags should be numbered identically. This is the advantage of using TagID as you can always see this. If you copy and paste from elsewhere and include the tag then you are now using the tag from somewhere else in the document and not the one that comes from the source. Sometimes it won’t make a difference to you and the target document will still be fine, but other times it will and you may have a problem depending on what you copied… so to be on the safe side I would always make sure the correct TagIDs are being used.

  5. OK, thanks…that might explain some of the problems I’ve been having. I guess I just need to always be sure and have “view tags” on while working. I’m used to CAT tools that aren’t quite as fussy about formatting and tags, so maybe these problems are just part of the shakedown cruise.

  6. You can also step through the tags one by one with Ctrl + Alt + right arrow/left arrow, and then the tag is inserted when you release Ctrl + Alt (I don’t think that was covered above). This is probably the option that is the closest to how tags were handled in Trados 2007 with the Insert Previous/Current/Next Placeable options, although you have to start from the beginning (or end) again after inserting one, so Insert Next is missing. I don’t think I have changed the short cuts for that, sorry for confusion if I did.
    The tag list is great, but if the segment contains numbers, they are always listed on top in that list. So regardless of where they are in the segment it won’t work as Insert Next Placeable, you still have to move your eyes to the list (and arrow down) to select the correct tag.

    1. Doesn’t work for me that one… it rotates my screen! So I use Ctrl+comma then arrow down/up and this rotates through the tags too. Probably a shortcut clash with my graphics.

      1. Ah, yes it probably is, I have disabled the shortcuts for the graphics driver. The funny thing is that I can’t find these shorcuts in the list in Tools > Options > Keyboard Shortcuts, so I don’t know the names of the commands. I assume I just stumbled upon them by using the old 2007 keyboard shortcuts for Insert next/previous (either by accident or curiosity).
        The big advantage with these is that you don’t need to browse through the numbers that are always on top in the QuickPlace list, it only jumps from tag to tag. The disadvantage, of course, is that you start from the first tag in the segment every time (or last if you use left arrow), so if there are no numbers, or a huge amount of tags, the advantage is limited.
        Disable the shortcuts for the graphics driver (you don’t want to rotate your screen anyway 😉 and try it, you’ll like it. At least there is one more way to work with tags.

  7. if I dont include the “cf” tags () in my source text, I get error messages – is it still possible to clean the document anyway or how can the document originator prepare the document in Studio without all these tags? in my case, the cf tags are around every – and of course, most of the – are not required in the english target text. and when i insert the cf tags somewhere else, another error message comes up because there is nothing between the tags.
    hope you can help me out here?
    regards, Heather

  8. Paul, I see many answers at Proz or here about dealing with formatting – as the force buttons disappeared and instead we were given the option to get in the special character buttons. My problem is different – I do not mind these force buttons disappearing (as I can handle the formatting differently), but sometimes they actually re-appear and replace my own special character buttons, so I cannot use the toolbar. Have you ever dealt with this issue? Even though these are supposed to be gone from the latest version of Studio 2011, when they re-appear and delete my special character buttons, I do not seem to be able to get rid of them myself. Thank you, Martin

  9. Paul, thank you for the link. This article describes ctrl+spacebar and ctrl+comma – which I already use. My problem is reversed, so to say: I have programmed all the custom quick insert buttons. When I load a new job to Studio and translate, I see them all and can use them. But as soon as the job comes to me back from a review, all my custom quick insert buttons (those red ones, positions 4 through 9) are gone, and instead of these I get those “Force off” formatting buttons. So my problem is: how do I hide those force off buttons (which should be hidden anyway, right?) to have room in the toolbar for all my custom quick insert buttons (positions 4 through 9)

    1. Hi Martin, I haven’t seen this before but it almost sounded as though you may be opening an sdlxliff that is sent back and creating a new project with it… and as a result possibly using different settings for the QuickInserts. But I wasn’t sure, so I asked the guys in the SDL Support Team. Their feedback is that by using Studio 2009 and Studio 2011 on the same Project this happened, so perhaps you are using both tools one one Project? Just a wild guess really…

      1. These are files that are translated and reviewed by a team of translators who have upgraded to Studio 2011 recently (from Wordfast), so we all have the latest Studio 2011. But it is installed on various systems (XP, Win 7, Win 8, Czech edition, English Edition), with various Word versions present on those systems (from Word 2003 to Word 2013). In every case we just exchange the sdlxliff file (no packages), so we load it to Studio from the hard drive and a “single file project” is created on individual machines. As of now I seem to start seeing a pattern of this behavior – that it happens each time the original file was .doc (not docx) – but I am not yet sure. We have our custom quick insert buttons defined in Studio for both the old, as well as the new Word file type. By the way, in the Proz forum started after the quick insert feature was broken in the initial release of Studio 2011, several users who had complained about force off buttons being gone later commented “I have them back now”, so I believe we are not the only ones experiencing this. Let’s hope Studio 2014 will have this improved, but we are not there yet…

        1. Hi Martin, ok… I think if we are get anywhere with this we need to look at this sensibly and trace the workflow you are following. I can drop you an email and we can discuss a way to to look at what you are doing. It’s very easy to take what gets said in the forums as being the reality of the situation, but often it is incorrect and the posts don’t always get updated. Sometimes of course the problem does rest with the software, but I think we need to look a little more closely at this problem you are having as I’m also curious to see exactly what you are doing.

  10. Hi, thanks for your tips, which are really helpful. I went through all the steps for handling tags and reviewed my document twice, but I still am unable to save to target. The error message that I get is this:
    the ‘w:root’ start tag on line 1 does not match the end tag of ‘w:p’. Line 1051, position 9.
    In the error message under the column “origin”, it says ‘File writing’
    Unless I’m looking in the wrong place, my document only goes up to line 450 on the left margin. Any clues as to what the problem is and how to fix it?

    1. The line reference refers to the sdlxliff rather than what you can see in the editor. I guess the best approach is first of all open the source file without any TM or even a project… so just use the single document approach, and then immediately try to save the target file. If it fails you’ll need to find the problem with the source file first (what version of Studio by the way?) but if it passes then try pre-translating it from your TM and then save it. 9 times out of 10 this resolves the issue.

  11. Hi Paul,
    Are you aware of a software application one could use in order to open and fix the sdlxliff file (i.e. one which would facilitate finding the lines and positions indicated in the error message)? Thanks, Mihai.

    1. Hi Mihai, what sort of errors are you referring to? Verification errors or real error messages caused because something has prevented the software from operating correctly? If the latter then I’m afraid I don’t… wish I did!

  12. Thanks, Paul! I’m referring to the real error messages. I thought there might be a possibility of going to the line 1051 position 9 in the sdlxliff and fix the tags. Apparently, there isn’t.
    On a more general note, in my experience, Studio 2014 gives much fewer errors than 2011. Good job!

    1. Sometimes, if you’re fast enough, you can catch a temporary file that is created. It’s often the location in this file that the error refers to (but not always). You can find it here: c:Users[USERNAME]AppDataLocalTempSDLTempFileManager
      The problem is this gets locked too… so I can sometimes copy it before it disappears, and sometimes not. I will look at seeing whether we can create a tool to manage this as a sort of error finder helper. It certainly would be useful.

  13. Thanks for the tip, Paul! An error finder helper could be indeed very useful in some situations.

  14. Hi Paul,
    I’m having this problem with displaying tags in the source elements:
    I’m importing an xliff, and Studio leaves out the first tag, when it’s at the start of a segment.
    Example of what it should be:
    What I get in the source segment:
    Applespearspearsapples<TAG are.
    You could then add another start tag, but then, when converting the xliff back to xml, there’s an extra tag there that shouldn’t be there.
    Could you help me with this, please?

  15. Studio 2014 implicity transfers the formatting tags from the source to the target (such as all bold). This is normally OK, but I need to set both bold and standard formatting – how can I do this? clear formatting does not seem to work.

    1. I’m not sure I follow you Anthony, but perhaps if you are showing all formatting in the segment (Ctrl+Shift+H) it would become easier to see? Feel free to ask your question in the SDL community where you can include screenshots etc. Login to your MySDL accouint and then go to this link : Community. Do it in that order otherwise you’ll be taken back to the home page of the community and may get lost.

  16. Has anyone found a way to copy all tags from source to target (but not the text) for the entire document? It would be useful to do when there are complex arrangements of tag pairs throughout a document…

  17. Hello, I am not sure why Trados generates duplicates for the same translation, the only difference being that one segment has tags and the other does not, and sometimes those tags are useless, not specifying things like italics or bold. Please could somebody let us know what settings need adjustment? We do not want to keep adding trash to the TM. Please help! Thanks!

    1. Hi Caro,
      The best place to ask questions like this is in the SDL Community. You can share your thoughts , use images and video if needed, and discuss this with others.
      To answer your question though… if you have one sentence with tags and one without then these are two different segments. You can remove the tag penalty so you always see 100% matches irrespective of whether the source has tags or not, but you can’t prevent it from saving two different TUs if you confirm them both as they are not duplicates.

  18. Hi Paul. Thank you for the info. I am new to it so it really helps. I tried all the methods, they seem work good. Just a minor question. When I copied those tags from the source to the target the information message appered: “Space before tag pair start tag was removed.” Just cannot understand what it means. I did not remove any tags.

    1. Hi Yuriy, if you display the spaces in the translation then you’ll see that you are just missing a space in front of the tag. So in the source there was a space, and in the target you didn’t put one there. Maybe you added it after the gat instead which is probably ok, but the default QA will flag any differences like this in case it’s important… sometimes it is.

  19. Hi Paul, thanks a lot for this.
    I’m a beginner user. And your website is really useful.
    I’m running into a formatting problem with SDL Trados 2014.
    I’m working on a pdf.sdlxliff file at the moment and all the layout options from the toolbar menu (bold, italics..) are grayed out. I never had this problem before.
    I can successfully convey the source text formatting to my target segments, but I can’t italicise a word in the target segment if it’s not italicised in the source text (which I could normally do in previous sdlxliff documents until then). However I really need to do that now: I need to italicise a word that must stay in English in the target text.
    Any idea? I’m assuming this is due to the initial file format that the agency sent me..
    . I tried the Word shortcuts (ctrl + I, ctrl + ,) but they just don’t work.
    Would it cause any problem if I just manually add a html tag where I need to in the target text?
    Or is there any other way I could do this?
    Thanks a lot in advance for your attention!

    1. Hi Linda,
      It’s most likely linked to you using an older version of STudio. If they created this with a more recent version of the PDF/DOCX filetype then Studio 2014 won’t understand how to handle the quick inserts. All you can do is use tags from the source, anywhere in the file (not convenient I know). If you add html tags it won’t cause a problem, but will appear as text in the resultant target file and won’t affect the formatting at all.

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