Understanding the Basics of CAT Grids and Why They Matter

Have you ever wondered about how pricing in translation is calculated? Although this question may appear quite straightforward, it’s actually more complex than it appears.

Why? That’s because of an industry practice that makes use of Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Grids.

But what are CAT Grids and how do they work? To answer this question, we need to step back and explore a few related terms to help you gain a better understanding. Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

Behind the scenes of CAT Grids: The early stages of a translation project

The early stages of most translation projects work with CAT tools. This is computer software that helps translators do their job much faster and more accurately. But how do CAT tools work? To explore this, we need to look at how a translation project starts. Here’s the gist of it.

A CAT tool is opened on a computer and the source file in the original language is input into it. After this, the CAT tool splits the file for translation into a large bilingual editing table where translation is done.

On one side of the screen, there is the original source document, which is split into different segments such as phrases and paragraphs. On the other side of the screen is where the translation part of the document appears.

It is also split into segments where the translation of the source segments can be added. Also important to remember at this early stage of the translation process is that CAT tools can store and translate documents in a database.

Also called Translation Memory, it means that previously translated materials can be reused at any time for current translation projects.

Starting the translation process

But this is where certain levels and layers of complexity begin to emerge. Here’s how it works:

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A document will be loaded into the CAT tool, which then performs an analysis of the text. In essence, these tools show both external and internal fuzzy matches. In terms of fuzzy matching, it is a term that is used to describe the CAT tool technique as a special case of record linkage. Simply put, after a CAT tool analyzes the text, it also shows the levels of frequency of repetition that exist in the text.

An example of this is the case when one sentence is repeated once. In such a situation, the CAT tool will mark the sentence as a 100% fuzzy match. However, if this sentence is repeated more than once, the CAT tool will mark the text as 101%. This is also called a Context Match.

What does this mean for translators? It means that when there are cases of repeated phrases or sentences, they only need to carry out a translation of the repeated text once. After this, the same translation will be automatically applied whenever the sentence is repeated.

Naturally, certain texts will not have any word repetitions or repeatability. Therefore, once the first phase of this process is completed, the CAT tool will provide an analysis of the different levels of fuzzy matches, which are usually represented as follows:

New words:

  • 50-74% Fuzzy Matches
  • 75-84% Fuzzy Matches
  • 85-94% Fuzzy Matches
  • 95-99% Fuzzy Matches
  • 100% Fuzzy Matches


  • 101%/Context Matches:

Based on this short breakdown, a CAT tool will start from “New words” and move on to “101%/Context Matches”, which demonstrates how often repeatability appears in a document for translation.

A practical example

A practical example of a translator working with CAT tools is a case where they may receive a document that comprises 2,000 words. However, there may be quite a high number of fuzzy matches.

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Consequently, the reality is that the linguist will not translate the full 2,000 words within the document but actually a far lower amount, depending on the repeatability of certain words, phrases, and sentences.

A brief introduction to CAT Grids

Having looked at an example of how CAT tools help determine the repeatability of source documents for translation, it’s necessary to price the translation project appropriately.

This is where a CAT Grid comes into play.

A CAT Grid is a table form of the prices that are offered for the different levels of pricing matches.

At 1-StopAsia, our Standard CAT Grid is the following:

New: Charge 100% from the normal rate
CAT Tools

  • 50-74%: Charge 100% from normal rate
  • 75-84%: Charge 60% from normal rate
  • 85-94%: Charge 60% from normal rate
  • 95-99% Charge 60% from normal rate
  • 100%: Charge 30% from normal rate

Repetitions: Charge 30% from normal rate

  • 101%/Context Matches: Charge 30% from normal rate

In some cases, clients may wish to work with CAT Grids that contain different rates. And in this regard, we are very swift and adaptable. However, this can have implications for our linguists.

That’s why even if we need to lower our CAT Grid percentages in some cases, we will keep rates the same when we send work to our linguists in order to remain fair to them.

Therefore, while a CAT Grid is often used to reduce the price of a translation project, we do value and place a strong emphasis on our linguists and the use or lowering of CAT Grid percentages should not be used in a manner that is unfair to them.

Conclusion: A fine balancing act

Because the use of CAT Grids is a fine balancing act, we at 1-StopAsia approach it as both an art and a science.

Although we strive to give our clients the best value for money through quality translations, we also value the efforts of our linguists and translators.

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As such, CAT Grids should not be fixed in stone but should rather be flexible and tailored to the project in question.

While there are certain fixed percentages, we do offer flexibility in our CAT Grids, giving both our clients and translators a fair value while producing quality translation work.

A brief dictionary:

CAT Tool: Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tool is specialized software designed to assist human translators in their work. It helps improve efficiency and accuracy by providing features like translation memory, terminology management, and alignment tools.

Translation Memory: Translation Memory (TM) is a database that stores previously translated segments of text. It allows translators to reuse translations from earlier projects, ensuring consistency and saving time.

Fuzzy Match: A Fuzzy Match is a translation match that is not an exact match but shares similarities with the source text. It is categorized into Internal and External Fuzzy Matches.
Internal Fuzzy Match: An Internal Fuzzy Match occurs when a segment in the current document partially matches a segment within the same document.
External Fuzzy Match: An External Fuzzy Match happens when a segment in the current document partially matches a segment stored in the translation memory from a previous project.

Context Match: A Context Match, also known as a 101% match, is a type of Fuzzy Match that considers the context in which a sentence is repeated. It helps translators identify and handle repeated content more accurately.

CAT Grid: A CAT Grid is a pricing table that outlines the cost structure for translation services based on different levels of matches. It defines the pricing strategy for new words, various percentages of fuzzy matches, and repetitions, offering a transparent and standardized approach to translation pricing.