How to Create a Glossary

So you booked your first interpreting job but you are not very familiar with the vocabulary related to the subject-matter…

1- Open word, go to table and create a table with three columns (see below): the first one should be for your source language, the second one for your target language and the final one for your notes/comments.

On the top of the page, in bold, write the name of the conference, the date of the event and which language direction you will be working in.

To add more rows, put your curser in the last field of your table and just keep hitting the tab button. You may also put your curser to the end of a line and hit enter, or return.

I find it very useful to add page numbers and the “date modified” information on each page. Even though I always staple my glossary, I’d rather be safe than sorry if they were to fall and scatter all around the booth. The “date modified” info just helps me keep track of when I last updated the document. To add these items to your glossary, go to insert-> add “date and time”, and then insert -> “page numbers”.

2-Once your document is set up, go to any search engine and type “glossary” + the field that you will be interpreting for, say for instance “pet food”. This will help you find a list of words that are often used in that field. Once you have this list, add the unknown or difficult words into your glossary and then go find the translations online.

One of my personal favorites is It searches the web for exemples of the term or sentence that have already translated on the web. Most languages are available on this website. is also a great online dictionary, also available in most languages.

If you do not already have some dictionaries bookmarked in your web browser, then go ahead and create a folder in your toolbar dedicated exclusively to your online dictionaries so that they are all in one place. This will help you save time while doing your research. Go to bookmarks->bookmark manager-> create new folder-> name it “Dictionaries”.

In addition to the online glossaries, it might be worth visiting some websites within that field. So for a conference on animal food, I would go and visit: Purina, Natural Choice, Science Diet, Fancy Feast etc. and just read some of their pages to see if I find any words worth noting in my glossary.

3-When you feel good about your document, select the entire table (highlight it), go to table-> click sort and select “sort by column 1”. This way it will be in alphabetical order.

Et voila!

Please feel free to share your own tips in the comments section below.

PS: My instructions are based off a MAC computer, I apologize if they do not match up exactly with all systems.

One thought on “How to Create a Glossary

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