Glossary Search – Documentation

Glossary Search tool icon Glossary Search tool allows you to search Excel glossaries from within any application and display entry information in a structured way similar to dictionary applications.

Detailed information about Glossary Search tool

How Glossary Search tool can help you in your work

Glossary Search tool is designed to make glossary searching as easy and productive as possible. It works similar to dictionary programs, allowing you to find terms by the first letters, view glossary entries in a structured way, navigate to the entries and update them, etc. Here is a list of its features:

  • You can find text from within any application using a key combination (this requires TransTools Utilities to be installed and configured correctly).
  • Glossary Search dialogue will remain open until the corresponding glossary workbook is closed. It can be positioned anywhere on your screen so that it does not obstruct visibility of the glossary workbook. You can work with the glossary sheet while the Glossary Search dialogue is open. If you need to switch to a different Excel workbook, the dialogue will be temporarily hidden, and it will be displayed again as soon as you switch to the glossary workbook;
  • You can use Glossary Search on several glossary workbooks which are opened in Microsoft Excel. Just run Glossary Search command after you switch to a different glossary workbook and the search dialogue will be opened;
  • Glossary Search dialogue can be viewed using two layouts: Vertical (screenshot below) and Horizontal (with the entry pane to the right of the search results). The Vertical layout can save space on smaller monitors while the Horizontal layout allows you to see more information;
  • Glossary Search uses four searching modes:
    • exact search: it finds all terms that start with the text you type;
    • partial search: it finds all terms that contain the text you type provided that the text occurs at the beginning of a word (i.e. if you have a term 'wind shield' and you look for 'shield', 'wind shield' will be found as a partial match, but if you look for 'hi' it will not be found because 'hi' does not occur at the start of the second word);
    • fuzzy search: it finds all terms that are similar but not identical to the search text. The similarity percentage can be changed under the Searching tab of the Glossary Configuration dialogue. One of the possible uses for this functionality is searching for misspelt terms;
    • wildcard search: this type of search makes it possible to use * and ? wildcard characters to find terms that contain specific text, etc.
  • You can select which glossaries you want to search in;
  • You can view each entry where a found term appears in a configurable format (you can configure the appearance of an entry for each glossary);
  • You can navigate to an entry's row in a glossary worksheet to modify it; and
  • You can use a language filter to specify the translation direction. This is very handy if you work with more than 1 language pair, your glossaries contain more than 2 languages, or the source and target languages have similar alphabets and terms look similar in both languages (e.g. German and English).

Where to find the tool

To run Glossary Search tool, click Glossary Search button on TransTools ribbon or select Glossary Search menu item from the dropdown menu as shown below:

Glossary Search tool button on the ribbon

To configure the current glossary spreadsheet, click Configure glossaries...

Using Glossary Search tool

Before you can use Glossary Search in a workbook that contains a glossary, you need to configure such glossary workbook using Glossary Configuration dialogue. The dialogue is activated by running the corresponding command (Glossary Configuration) from TransTools menu, or by clicking Configure... button under the [Options] tab). When the configuration process is complete, the configuration of each configured glossary is created in a hidden worksheet inside the glossary workbook. To finalize the process, simply save the workbook and you will be able to use Glossary Search to find terms at any time while the glossary workbook window is activated in Microsoft Excel.

Glossary Search interface

The user interface of the Glossary Search dialogue is very similar to other dictionary programs like GoldenDict or ABBYY Lingvo. It contains a search text pane, a search results pane, an entry navigation pane, and additional options. Below is a screenshot of the Glossary Search dialogue (using Vertical layout):

Screenshot: Glossary Search dialogue

  1. Search Text: Type the initial letters that should appear at the very beginning of the sought term (for full matches) or at the start of a specific word inside the term (for partial matches). To clear the text box, click the button on the right.
    Alternatively, if you are sure that the term you are searching for includes specific text, you can use * and ? wildcard characters. For example, you can type *heat* to find terms like 'reheat'. After you type such search text, you will need to click Wildcard Search button below.
  2. Search Results and additional search options: All found matches are displayed in the search results list. If there are any partial matches (where the search text appears at the start of any word in the middle of the term), these will appear after 'Partial matches' separator. To view all entries that contain a found term, select that term in the list.

    There are additional search options which allow you to find more results:
    Fuzzy Search button – click this button to find matches which are similar to the text typed in the search text box. This will find misspelt terms or terms spelt somewhat differently. The similarity percentage can be changed in the Glossary Configuration under the Searching tab. The button will be enabled if the search text is at least 4 characters long.
    Wildcard Search button – this button will be displayed if the search text includes wildcard characters (* or ?). You can use wildcard characters to find terms when you remember only part of the term, especially when the text you remember occurs in the middle of the term.
  3. Search Options: This pane allows you to select which glossaries need to be searched, reload all glossaries if there are any modifications in a glossary sheet, and configure glossaries:

    Screenshot: Options tab of Glossary Search dialogue
    If you want to limit the glossaries to be searched, just deselect a particular glossary in the list.

    Sometimes errors may occur during glossary loading, as indicated by the status bar. The loading status of each glossary is displayed in the right-hand column of the glossary list.
    [OK] means that the glossary was loaded without errors,
    [Not found] means that a previously configured glossary could not be found in the workbook by its configured name (you may have renamed the glossary),
    [Invalid structure] means that column names do not match the configuration (you may have renamed some column headings).

    To reload all glossaries (e.g. after you rename a glossary sheet back to its original name), click Reload.

    To configure glossaries contained in the active workbook, click Settings...
  4. Entry View: This pane contains a formatted representation of all entries where the selected term appears. Each entry is formatted in accordance with the configuration options of the glossary where the entry is located (this is configured using Glossary Configuration command) .
  5. Entry Selection: If you would like to navigate to a row that contains a specific entry, select this entry in the list and click Go.... The first cell of the corresponding row will be selected so you can make the necessary changes to the entry.

    Important note: due to the way Microsoft Excel is designed, you will not be able to undo any changes in a glossary workbook when you navigate to a row using the [Go] button.
  6. Status Bar: The status bar displays the following information:
    • Number of entries in all loaded glossaries or number of found matches;
    • Message indicating whether you have enabled a glossary filter on the [Options] tab;
    • Current layout button – allows you to display the Glossary Search dialogue in one of the two layouts: Vertical (as above, displaying the entry view pane underneath the search results pane), and Horizontal (with the entry view pane to the right of the search results pane). The Vertical layout is handy if you have a small monitor, so you can work with the glossary workbook and still see the search dialogue. The Horizontal layout allows you to see more information, but it takes more horizontal space;
    • Message indicating whether all glossaries were loaded successfully or some errors occurred. Errors may occur if a glossary worksheet is not found in the workbook by its configured name, or if names of column headings were changed. To view detailed information about the errors that took place, click the right-hand pane of the status bar.
  7. Language Filter: When your glossaries contain more than 2 languages, or the languages have similar alphabets (e.g. German and English), the language filter makes it possible to specify the translation direction so you can search for terms in the right language and see only the right languages in the entry view pane.

    The following parameters can be configured:
    – Source language: select from the list of languages, or select '- All -' if you want to display terms from any language in the search results list;
    – Target language: select from the list of languages, or select '- All -' if you want to display terms from any language in the entry pane;
    – Direction: clicking this button changes between '->' and '<->';
    – Switch source and target languages: click this button to switch the translation direction.

If you want to search a different glossary workbook for terms, just open or switch to that workbook and run the Glossary Search command again.

System integration

Glossary Search may be started when you select a word or phrase in any Windows application and press a key combination.

In order to use this feature, TransTools Utilities component must be enabled during installation (it is enabled by default in the automatic installer). TransTools Utilities will be configured to launch on Windows start-up.

The key combination is configured on the System Integration tab of the Glossary Configuration dialogue. The default key combination is Ctrl+Shift+C.

When you select a word or phrase in any Windows program and press the key combination, Excel will be launched (if not running) or activated (if it is already running). If the Glossary Search dialogue is already displayed, the search will be initiated immediately. If Glossary Search dialogue is not displayed, but a glossary workbook is already active, or a glossary workbook was recently searched, that workbook will be activated and Glossary Search will be activated. However, if none of the above works, a default glossary workbook (configured under the System Integration tab of the Glossary Configuration dialogue) is opened and searched. Therefore, it is strongly advised to specify a default glossary workbook in the Glossary Configuration.

Configuring glossaries for use with Glossary Search tool

To configure the current glossary spreadsheet, click the downward arrow under Glossary Search button on TransTools ribbon and select Configure glossaries... menu item. Once you configure the specific sheet(s) of the current workbook as glossaries as instructed below, the configuration settings will be stored in a hidden worksheet inside the workbook. After saving the Excel file, you can use this file with Glossary Search tool at any time.

Glossary structure basics

In terminology management lingo, each glossary contains three levels:

  • The entry level containing general information about each entry (e.g. Comments, Source, Subject / theme, etc).
  • Index levels (also called language levels) containing information that corresponds to a particular language in the entry. For example, if you have two languages in your glossary, English and German, you may have one Definition column for English (containing a definition from English Wikipedia, for instance), and one Definition column for German (with a definition from a German-language source).
  • Term levels containing information specific to each term in a specific entry. For example, you may have two English terms in your glossary: 'alternating current' and 'AC'. You can specify that 'AC' should be used after a numerical value, as in '220 V AC', while 'alternating current' should be used in general contexts involving descriptions of the phenomenon.

A typical entry may look like this:

ID: 245    
Language – English
  alternating current
    Notes: use in general contexts involving the phenomenon, not after a number
    Notes: use after numerical value, e.g. 220 VAC
  Definition: In alternating current (AC, also ac), the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction.
Language: German
    Notes: use after numerical value, e.g. 220 VAC
Subject: Electrical
Source: Wikipedia

In the table above, Definition is an index-level column, Notes is a term-level column, Subject and Source are entry-level columns.

Glossary Search supports two levels: entry level and index (language) level. Term level is not supported due to the fact that it is rarely if ever used in Excel glossaries.

Each glossary may contain two types of columns:

  • Term columns (containing full terms or known acronyms / abbreviations). Each term column must be associated with a particular language.
  • Auxiliary columns: containing definitions, subject / theme, comment, source, etc.
    Auxiliary columns may correspond to the entire entry (entry level columns), or to a single language (index level columns, i.e. their information is specific to a particular language ).

Glossary workbook requirements

Before you can configure your glossary for use with Glossary Search, you should note the following:

  • The name of the sheet containing the glossary must not change after the glossary is configured. If you need to change the sheet's name, you will have to reconfigure the glossary sheet again (takes 1-2 minutes).
  • Each glossary sheet must have a header row containing the titles of each column. Column titles do not need to be unique, however you do have to have them.
  • You may have any additional non-entry rows before or after the header row as long as column headings are written in a single row. The header row number may be configured in the Glossary Configuration dialogue.
  • If you store several alternative terms in the same cell, you must separate them with ";" (semicolon) followed by a space.
  • Because the term level is not supported, you cannot show term-specific information (e.g. part of speech, gender, etc.) next to each term. If your glossary contains such columns, you can still show such information in the entry view pane, but they should be displayed in the index or entry level instead.

Glossary Configuration dialogue

The user interface of the Glossary Configuration dialogue along with a description of each section is presented below:

Screenshot: Glossary Configuration dialogue

  1. Worksheet List: This list contains all worksheets that the current workbook contains. When you drop down the list, you can also see additional information about a worksheet: [OK] if it is already configured as a glossary, [NOT CONFIGURED] if it is not yet configured, [INCORRECT CONFIGURATION] if a worksheet by the same name was previously configured, but now the column headings are different.
  2. Sheet Contains a Glossary: Check this box if you want to configure the selected worksheet as a glossary.
  3. General Glossary Parameters : In this area, you should configure general information about the glossary:
    Header row index: number of the row which contains column headings. To make a correct choice, look at the column list and the column data preview list;
    Start row index: enter the number of the row where entries start;
    Term separator: this is a character that separates individual terms inside a cell in a term column. For now, only two separators, semicolon (;) and pipe symbol (|), can be configured.
  4. General Column Parameters: In this pane, you should select each column in the list on the left and configure its parameters.

    Searching: in this field, you specify the main attribute of the column that allows it to be indexed – whether it is a term or non-term. Terms are searchable, and they appear directly below the name of a language when an entry is displayed. Non-terms are either entry-level general attributes, or index-level (language-specific) attributes.
    If you select 'Term', you must also specify the language that this term column belongs to.
    If you select 'Non-term, not searchable', then you must specify display level.

    Display level: in this field, you tell Glossary Search which level this attribute should appear under.
    'Applies to entire entry' means that this column contains entry-level information that should appear below index levels when an entry is displayed. A good example is Project, Subject / theme, Domain, Client, Notes columns.
    'Applies to a single language' means that this column is index-level and hence its value should appear inside a particular language. 'English Definition' or 'English example' are good column name examples.
    When you specify 'Applies to a single language', you must also specify the language.

    Language: If you specify 'Term' under Searching or 'Applies to a single language' under Display Level, you must specify the language. By default, the list contains only generic language names (e.g. English), without language cultures (e.g. English (United Kingdom)). If it is important to make such a distinction, uncheck the 'Generic languages only' box. ss

    Note: If you don't select a language for Term or Index-level columns, or specify that an index-level column has a language different from any language of term columns in the same glossary, an exclamation mark will appear near the language list, the glossary selection list and in the column list. You will not be able to save the configuration unless you fix the error.
  5. Column Data Preview: When you select a column in the column list, the first 50 values in the column will be displayed in this list. The preview is generated based on your choice of Entry Start Row under General Glossary Parameters.
  6. Entry View Parameters: Under this tab, you specify parameters that affect the way an entry is displayed on the Glossary Search dialogue.

    Show in Entry Viewer: specify whether or not this column's value should be shown when an entry is displayed.

    Display an Empty Line Before
    : to display an empty line before this attribute, check this box.

    : this is label that should precede the value of this attribute in the entry view pane of Glossary Search. A colon will be added to this label, so do not add a colon. You can leave this field blank, but an entry will be more readable if you set it.

    Display order
    : By default, all attributes that appear at the same level (entry level or index level) of the entry view are arranged in the same order they appear in the glossary worksheet. To change the order, click Change... and modify the order of the column against other columns by using Up/Down buttons, clicking OK to save your choice.
  7. Entry Edit Parameters: Under this tab, you can specify parameters for the future Glossary Add and Glossary Edit commands which will enable you to edit glossary entries in a more structured way:

    Screenshot: Term Edit tab of Glossary Configuration dialogue

    Field Type: Specify what type of data the column contains. This may in some cases determine how the column will be represented on the entry editor. This list is by no means exhaustive and will be expanded in the future. The choices are: Term (full), Term (abbreviated) – for term columns; Identification number, Definition, Subject (theme), Project, Client, Context, Image, Other – for non-term columns.

    Field Caption: type the caption which will appear next to the entry editor input box for this column.

    Multiline Field: specify whether to display a multiline input box for this column (valid for certain field types only).
  8. Entry Preview: To see how entries from the current glossary will be formatted on the Glossary Search dialogue, click Entry Preview button. This will open the following dialogue, allowing you to see the format of each entry in the order of their appearance in the glossary.

    Screenshot: Entry Preview dialogue
  9. Searching Options: This tab contains some options that affect the way all glossaries are loaded and indexed.

    Screenshot: Searching options tab of Glossary Configuration dialogue

    Load terms only: When this box is checked, Glossary Search will load terms only, and other entry information (e.g. Definition, Theme, Client, etc) will be read from the glossary worksheet when an entry is displayed. This option is recommended for very big glossaries (>10,000 entries), slow machines or low memory. By default, this option is turned off.

    Minimum match percent in fuzzy search: this is the minimum similarity percentage for the Fuzzy Search option in Glossary Search. For those of you familiar with CAT (TEnT) tools like SDL Trados or memoQ, this is similar to the match percentage.
  10. System integration: With this tab, you can configure a global key combination that will initiate Glossary Search whenever you select a word or phrase in any Windows application. Additional options are also provided.
    Screenshot: System Integration options tab of Glossary Configuration dialogue
    Activate Glossary Search: Check this option if you want Glossary Search to be activated whenever you select a word or phrase in any Windows application and press a special key combination.

    Key Combination: using the two drop-down lists, select a control key combination and a regular key, which, when pressed together, should activate Glossary Search.

    Default glossary workbook : if you activate Glossary Search by pressing the key combination, Glossary Search will use the active glossary workbook or another recently used glossary workbook which is open. However, when Excel is not running, no glossary workbook is activated, or no glossary workbooks were recently used, Glossary Search will open the default glossary workbook which you configure under this option. Click Select file... to select an Excel workbook (must be a glossary-enabled workbook), or click No default if you do not want to set a default workbook.
  11. Help / OK / Cancel Buttons: Click ? to read on-line reference (this page), OK to save the configuration, or Cancel to cancel the changes.

Glossary configuration example

Let us imagine that you have a glossary with the following structure:

  • Glossary header is in row 1;
  • Glossary entries start in row 2;
  • The glossary contains the following columns:
    • ID
    • Type (supporting column)
    • English
    • German
    • French
    • English Definition
    • German Definition
    • French Definition
    • Notes
    • Subject
    • Client
    • Project

Here are the suggested settings for the glossary:

  • Headers are in row: 1;
  • Entries start in row: 2;
  • Columns:
    • ID – Non-term, Applies to entire entry, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption 'ID';
    • Type – Show in entry viewer – No;
    • English – Term, Language – English;
    • German – Term, Language – German;
    • French – Term, Language – French;
    • English Definition – Non-term, Applies to a single language, Language – English, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Definition';
    • German Definition – Non-term, Applies to a single language, Language – German, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Definition';
    • French Definition – Non-term, Applies to a single language, Language – French, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Definition';
    • Notes – Non-term, Applies to entire entry, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Notes';
    • Subject – Non-term, Applies to entire entry, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Subject';
    • Client – Non-term, Applies to entire entry, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Client';
    • Project – Non-term, Applies to entire entry, Show in entry viewer – Yes, Caption – 'Project'.

    To show ID at the very bottom, change its Order.

Here is how an entry will look like:

[Glossary 'EN-FR-DE']

    alternating current

    Definition: In alternating current (AC, also ac), the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current (DC, also dc), the flow of electric charge is only in one direction.

    Definition: Wechselstrom bezeichnet elektrischen Strom, der seine Richtung (Polung) in regelmäßiger Wiederholung ändert und bei dem sich positive und negative Augenblickswerte so ergänzen, dass der Strom im zeitlichen Mittel null ist. Abzugrenzen ist der Wechselstrom von Gleichstrom, der sich (abgesehen von Schaltvorgangen oder Einflusseffekten) zeitlich nicht ändert, und von Mischstrom als einer Überlagerung von beiden.
    Courant alternatif

    Definition: Le courant alternatif (qui peut être abrégé par CA) est un courant électrique, généralement sinusoïdal sans composante continue.

Notes: Use 'AC' after value
Subject: Electrical
Client: -
Project: -
ID: 0001

Useful tools for editing text


  • TransTools Utilities – useful commands that can be used in a multitude of Windows programs (used to enable terminology lookup with Glossary Search from any program)