Depending on what platform you’ll be using your software on, and what you’ll be using the software for will determine what kinds of things you should look to avoid when purchasing translation or dictionary software. However, there are some general things that you should avoid as I have found them to be either a waste of space or unnecessary for effectively using the software.
Software with a limited vocabulary
Another thing I’ve often said is that translation software is only as good as the vocabulary database included. Don’t get software that comes with a small vocabulary database or you’ll soon find that it doesn’t provide for your needs. If it comes with anything less than 100,000 words then you’ll want to stay away. Even then, that amount is the absolute bare minimum you should even consider. Good electronic translation and dictionary software will come with a vocabulary database of sometimes ten times that amount.
No ability to add your own vocabulary
Speaking of vocabulary, one of the best features of translation software is the ability to add your own vocabulary words and definitions to existing vocabulary databases. You would think that this feature would be included in all translation software but you’d be mistaken. There are always subtle regional differences in vocabulary so it’s nice to have the ability to edit what you want for your own needs. Plus, if you are a technical translator or specialize in a specific field, you need to have the ability to add your own specialized vocabulary and grammar.
Only available with products from a single company
First, let me say that I use both Macs and PCs. Right now I have a MacBook, as well as a PC laptop and PC desktop, and use all of them, so I have no interest in debating which one is best. What I do have an interest in, though, is being able to use translation and dictionary software on both platforms. It does me no good if I can only use the software on one platform because as a translator, I often switch between computers and need the ability to go back and forth. This is essential if you want to be a productive translator.