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Why are my memoQ word counts different from Microsoft Word or other translation tools?
Posted by P├ęter Botta on 18 January 2013 09:28 PM

Title: Why are my memoQ word counts different from Microsoft Word or other translation tools?


We sometimes get requests to explain why memoQ counts words differently from other tools. In this article we explain some of the primary reasons.

In memoQ, there are two word counting options: memoQ and Trados-like. We recommend using the memoQ word count. The memoQ word count has a very simple method of counting words: everything is a word in between two whitespaces. The Trados-like word count method tries to emulate the "old" Trados or SDL Trados versions (it was modelled after Trados 6.5). Please note that the word count of SDL Trados Studio 2009/2011 is completely different, and it is closer to the memoQ word count than to the Trados-like word count. When we refer to Trados, we usually refer to Translator's Workbench, the previous, market-leading version. We refer to SDL Trados Studio as Studio or Trados Studio at all times.

There can be two reasons why your word count is different: the content imported and the word counting method.

When you import a file into memoQ, you can open it and check for its contents. For example the difference between Microsoft Word and memoQ word counts is primarily because of two reasons:

  1. Footnotes, endnotes. This is something you can also include in word counting in Word, using a check box.
  2. Text boxes and other text elements. Text boxes do not count in Word, but they do count in memoQ, so the memoQ word count is usually somewhat higher.
We have also had questions where for example the customer was trying to get a word count for an HTML file, and the word count was much higher in memoQ than in Word. They have opened the HTML in Word, and they have imported the HTML into memoQ. In Word, elements like the captions for links (which only appears if you have the cursor over the link) did not count as a word. In memoQ all relevant information was imported, and counted as words.

The word counting method difference can mean a major difference between SDL Trados 2007 or older and memoQ. While memoQ counts every string between two whitespaces as a word, the Trados-like counting has rules such as:

  • Hyphenated words count as multiple words. For example hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin counts as three words according to the Trados-like count, but one word according to the memoQ or the Microsoft Word count.
  • Standalone numbers do not count as words. If a segment contains "25 cups", both the Trados-like count and the memoQ count gives two words. If the segment is "255,234", this does not count as a word in the Trados-like count, but it does count as a word in the memoQ count.
There are several other rules influencing this word count, but the above two rules are the ones that cause the highest discrepancy. Therefore we usually recommend using memoQ counts.

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