Data Manipulation




to be followed in accordance with article 8.a of the Agreement on the Operation,

Use and Financing of IATE and the IATE website

Text as submitted for approval to the Translation Section of the ICTI on 15.05.2008.


I. Introduction

II. General principles

III. IATE input rules

1. General input criteria

2. Specific input criteria (field-related)

IV. Management of IATE

1. Entering terms

2. Validation

3. Maintenance

ANNEX I: Basic vocabulary

ANNEX II: Suggested uses for marks

ANNEX III: Template e-mail for obtaining permission to use personal data
of experts in IATE

I. Introduction

1. The IATE (InterActive Terminology for Europe) database is a dynamic base designed, principally, to support the multilingual drafting of EU texts, legal texts in particular.

2. As a terminology database, its specific function is to provide relevant, reliable, checked, easily-accessible data which represent a distinct added value by comparison with all other sources of lexical information, in particular translation memories and the mass of information available on the internet or electronic archives.

3. The growing need for precise term definition owing to EU activities becoming more complex and diverse and the democratic requirement of legislation in clear, precise language1 presuppose ever greater use of this type of data to ensure the quality of drafting and a high level of productivity at every stage of text production.

4. Furthermore, for IATE to be usable with translation aid software, data must be fed in and the base managed with rigour : such software is able to retrieve information from IATE, but, as opposed to translators, is not able to detect discrepancies between language versions.

5. The fact that IATE is available to the public allows terminologists to make a greater contribution to the stated EU policy of encouraging multilingualism and to making EU legislation more transparent to the citizen. It also gives terminologists the opportunity both to make their work more visible and to receive feedback on what they do.

6. The objectives of this Best Practice are therefore as follows:

  • To draw up the ground rules for shaping terminological practice in those institutions participating in IATE.

  • To serve as a guide for those doing terminology work.

  • To define the principles governing the content of entries.

  • To help make IATE a proper interinstitutional database, which is the primary tool for all users in the process of drafting multilingual EU texts, and a useful tool for the public seeking a better understanding of EU-specific language usage.

7. These objectives cannot be achieved without adopting common rules and working methods and creating the structures and arrangements needed to apply these rules and methods, in other words, by controlling the entry of data in the database to guarantee their relevance and terminological quality, which are the absolute criteria for entering data in IATE.

○ ○

These rules and working methods applicable to IATE are covered in Parts II and III of this document. The organisational aspects are set out in Part IV.

This Best Practice will be adopted and updated within the framework of the IATE Project.

In order to clarify the use of some of the terms used in this Best Practice, an extract from ISOInternational Standard 1087 (Terminology - Vocabulary) is appended hereto.


II.General principles

  • Usefulness for the drafting of texts
    IATE is a database geared towards multilingual drafting, translation and interpreting in the Community sphere. Its usefulness for that purpose must always be the prime concern, especially as regards the credibility of proposed solutions, rigour in entering data and ease of access to relevant information. With that in mind, not only terminology stricto sensu but also the names of international conventions and treaties, institutions and other proper names of use for translation will be entered into IATE.

  • Multilingualism
    The strength and uniqueness of IATE lie in its multilingualism. It is therefore very important to promote the development of entries towards multilingualism, in particular by consolidating and merging any monolingual or bilingual entries for a single concept and by adding as many languages as possible to new entries.

  • Credibility of entries
    A well thought-out terminological entry must give users a maximum of information to allow them to judge whether the solution it proposes is appropriate and credible. It must also allow other terminologists who wish to work on the entry to delimit the concept clearly, where relevant by consulting the references and sources used by the terminologist who created the entry.

  • Basic know-how
    Anyone entering data in IATE must follow this Best Practice.

  • Responsibility
    Each institution must ensure that all the terminology work it carries out (including the import of data from external sources) complies with this Best Practice, and must appoint a body or a person responsible for the implementation of decisions taken in the framework of the IATE Project.

  • Reliability
    The person supervising the terminology work (hereinafter the "terminologist") for each language acts as a filter to ensure that validated terms are reliable and comply with this Best Practice.


III. IATE input rules

1. General input criteria

Added value
Information fed into IATE must have an added value over and above what can be found in documentary databases or on the Internet. Its added value is the result of the terminological processing of the information (for instance, a document search, the addition of a definition or reference, the designation of the preferred term for consistency reasons, the endorsement of a solution suggested by a translator, etc.) in order to increase the reliability of the proposed solution. Multilingualism, and consistency between languages in particular, is also an added value, since it enhances the usefulness of the database.

The terminologist must ensure that the term entered is relevant, in other words, that it genuinely corresponds to a past, present or potential drafting, translating or interpreting problem in a EU area. He or she must also ensure, as far as possible, that the term corresponds to a real concept used in the relevant context and not simply to a one-off name or occurrence. Particular priority must be given to proactive terminology in subject areas which are expected to come up in the near future.

Avoidance of duplicates
Before creating an entry anyone entering data must make the necessary checks to ensure that there is not already another entry for the same concept. He or she must carry out a standard search to check whether the term or translation already exists in his or her own language or in one of the more frequent languages in IATE, i.e. English and French.

Accuracy of data
When creating a new entry, terminologists must check the accuracy of the terms and data to be added. When adding their language to an existing entry, terminologists must check that their term(s) and data match the concept already present on the entry.

Single concept
Every entry should deal with one concept only (or a single proper name in the case of nomenclature) and all data relating to a given concept should be consolidated in one entry.

Minimum information
Every terminology entry fed into IATE must include sufficient information to enable unambiguous identification of the concept it is meant to establish. With that in mind, apart from the Reference, which is mandatory, it is recommended to add a definition and/or context.

Information in another language
Any useful information that the terminologist finds in a language other than his or her own should be added to the IATE entry. Changes will appear on the validation screen of the terminologist of the language in question.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
Copyright rules must be adhered to at all times. Since copyright law contains grey areas and it is not always easy to be legally certain of what is and is not allowed, a precautionary approach is recommended. The principles set out below should help terminologists make the right choices.


  • Terms in themselves are not subject to copyright. Thus the fact of entering a term in the database and indicating from where you have taken it does not give rise to immediate copyright problems. However, significant quantities of terms from the same source might give rise to problems (see "Quantification" below).

  • Material in the public domain and freely available for non-commercial use, namely . most material published by public bodies and generally speaking any material that has been published more than 50 years ago, does not cause a problem either.

  • Text drafted by terminologists is "own material" and obviously does not raise copyright problems.

In practice

  • Whenever possible, do one of the following:

    • Use material that is free from copyright restrictions, at least for non-commercial use

    • Draft your own material

      • If you think it important to quote from copyright-protected sources, then

  • Identify clearly the work from which you are quoting

  • Keep the length of quoted extracts to a minimum

  • Avoid using the same reference extensively (see "Quantification" below)

    • Remember to look for information on copyright rules applicable to the reference you are using (e.g., copyright notice in a website) and follow these rules

    • The information found in public sources is usually free for re-use, but please check legal notices.

    • Use primary references rather than secondary sources (such as Wikipedia), for which you do not know whether copyright has been respected.

    • If you need to use a particular source extensively, obtain written permission from the copyright holder. The information can be inserted in IATE while waiting for consent.

    • Text based on a particular reference, but re-worded or summarised by the terminologist, is not subject to copyright. You should, however, indicate that your text is "based on…", when relevant and possible.

    • Graphical material (photos, logos, drawings, etc.) is subject to the same copyright restrictions as text.

    • The reproduction of trade marks as terms is subject to legally-binding restrictions. Thus the reproduction of a trade mark in IATE should not give the impression that it constitutes the generic name of the goods or services for which the trade mark is registered and should always be accompanied by an indication that it is a registered trade mark

A basic problem for terminologists is how much of a work you are allowed to quote without risking copyright infringement. However, most countries do not establish precise limitations on what is acceptable, leaving it to the courts to examine matters on a case-by-case basis. Case law in this area is also scant. It is therefore not possible to set percentages or amounts of material you can quote, either for the extent of an individual quote or for the number of quotes from a specific source. However, the bottom line is that you should avoid any action that could have an impact on the potential sales of the reference work you use (e.g. because so much material from this work is made available through IATE, the work is less interesting for potential buyers).

Common sense should ultimately guide you in assessing the amount of material that you may legitimately quote from a copyright-protected reference. In case of doubt, refrain from quoting or ask the copyright holder for written permission to do so.

Processing of personal data
When using human sources, the origin of the data should be identified by the job title and department or organisation to which the person belongs only. You should avoid entering personal information (names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.) into the IATE database.

In cases where the use of personal data is nevertheless considered indispensable, the scope of such data should be kept to a minimum, e.g., name, job title, organisation.

When recording personal data, the relevant rules applicable to the processing of personal data by European institutions and bodies2 must be adhered to. Namely the following basic principles must be followed:

  • The person's consent must be explicit and obtained in written form

  • Before giving his/her consent, the person has to be informed of the following:

    • The type of personal data to be reproduced in IATE;

    • That his/her data will be quoted in the internal and public versions of IATE as reference;

    • For what purposes his/her data will be used;

    • That, without his/her explicit request, his/her data will remain in the database;

    • That he/she has the right to access and request the modification or erasure of the data recorded.

A template for obtaining permission to use personal data in IATE is provided as Annex III. This template should be adapted to your particular circumstances.

2. Specific input criteria (field-related)


  • Conciseness of the term
    The term must be as concise as possible, i.e. it should be the smallest possible indivisible unit to designate a precise concept. Complex expressions combining several concepts must be broken down into their constituent parts and a separate entry created for each concept. A lack of conciseness when creating an entry has negative repercussions at several levels: it makes it difficult to add other languages to the entry - the chances of a complex expression being repeated are slim - and gives rise to quasi-duplicates which are difficult to check, since a complex expression can vary more widely. A lack of conciseness also reduces the relevance of the entry and even risks rendering it unusable for computer-assisted translation.

  • Special language / everyday language
    Terminology deals with special languages while lexicology deals with everyday language. Words from everyday language should therefore be limited to those the harmonisation of which is an absolute necessity for EU documents or which acquire an added value through processing in IATE in comparison to language dictionaries. To enter everyday words in IATE would pose problems when it comes to defining its boundaries (which would otherwise stretch beyond the normal horizons of terminology and lead terminologists to waste their efforts in a practically infinite field of activity) and problems with the duplication of information which is easily accessible in language dictionaries.

  • Neologisms
    Translators often have to deal with innovative texts which refer to cutting-edge technology or new intellectual concepts which inevitably contain new terms (or existing words with a new meaning). These new terms often necessitate the creation of neologisms in the target language. The terminologist must be able to help the user by proposing well-founded solutions with due consideration for natural processes for forming new terms and the socio-cultural factors which determine the acceptance of neologisms in a language community. If a term is a neologism it should be indicated in a note.

  • Document titles
    The input into IATE of the titles of secondary Community legislation must be avoided, except where an instrument has acquired a proper name which differs from its official title (e.g. VAT Directive) or where core texts of the EU are concerned (e.g., interinstitutional agreements).

  • Incorrect terms
    Any term entered at
    term level, which is not clearly identified as deprecated, is deemed to be correct and fit for use as a translation into that language. If a terminologist has doubts as to the accuracy of a term in another language, he or she must consult the relevant language department for confirmation.

  • Provisional solutions
    Where an organization or an instrument does not yet have an official or definitive name or where no name is known, the terminologist must propose a provisional harmonised solution in IATE to prevent usage from varying too widely. In such cases it is important to explain the situation in the notes and to update the entry as soon as possible.

  • Writing rules
    Nouns and adjectives should be written in the singular, except where the term is used
    habitually in the plural. No articles or capital letters are used, except where language rules so dictate. Verbs should be written in the appropriate canonical form, such as the infinitive.

Where confusion is possible, appropriate indications can be entered under "Grammatical Information".


  • The use of a reference is mandatory. Where there is no specific reference, the default reference will be the terminology service which introduced the data, identified by at least the institution and the language (e.g.: "Council-NL" for the Dutch terminology service of the Council).

  • The reference given must lend credibility to the information provided (definition, term, etc.) and must itself be a credible authority in the relevant field. Where the source is an official body it must be recognized as an authority in the relevant field.

  • Reference documents should be originals and, whenever this can be determined, written by a native speaker. Translations may only be used if they are authentic from a legal point of view or if they are recognized as authoritative in the relevant field.

  • The names of experts must be accompanied by information which can be used as a basis for judging their authority on the subject, such as their profession, or their position or unit, in anticipation of the day when they can no longer be contacted or are no longer known.

  • References to documentary sources must be sufficiently comprehensible and precise for users to be able to find and consult them if need be (see specific details in the Input Manual).

  • Where reference documents, publications or institutions are accessible via the Internet, the URL can be added at the end of the reference, followed by the date of consultation wherever useful.

  • Multiple values in reference fields should be separated by semicolons.

  • Documents from one and the same institution should be presented in a uniform way and their number always be preceded by the name of the institution (e.g., "Council document 8965/06").

  • For reasons of consistency and ease of retrieval, the same reference document should always be quoted in the same way within the same entry and language, and as much as possible within the database.


  • Unless the term is self-explanatory, a good, concise definition is very important to enable users to judge whether the proposed solution is appropriate and to enable terminologists from other languages to delimit the concept clearly and make additions.

  • As far as possible definitions must obey the substitution principle, i.e. it must be possible to replace the term by the definition in a text. Additional information belongs in the Notes field.

  • Formal definitions given in legislation often only apply to the instrument in question (e.g., "for the purpose of this Regulation"); in such cases the definitions should only be used if they are broad enough to identify the concept in a more general context, or if the entry itself relates solely to that particular act.


  • The Domain should be chosen to identify clearly the special language and context in which the concept is used. Each entry should have only a limited number of domains; the presence of several domains may indicate that the term actually covers more than one concept.

  • Terminologists adding their language to an existing entry must check whether their term is used in the same context as that indicated by the domain names already included on the entry, and must avoid adding new domain names which would result in one entry covering more than one concept.

  • In computer-assisted translation systems the use of domain names will be even more important. It is therefore vital for anyone creating entries in IATE to be reasonably familiar with the names used in the database and to add them to their entries as rigorously and precisely as possible.


  • The use of confidentiality should be restricted to the entries or to the fields where this is absolutely necessary.

  • The institution that is creating a new entry has the right to create a duplicate if it has no access to a previous entry because it has been made confidential.

  • Terminologists who detect such cases should inform their terminology coordination bodies, who in turn will bring the case to the attention of the institution that owns the confidential entry. The latter will check whether their entry can be made non-confidential and, if so and the concept in both entries is in fact the same, will merge it onto the newly-created entry.

  • When making confidential entries into non-confidential entries, institutions are responsible for ensuring that entries made public do not duplicate other entries freely available in the database.


IV. Management of IATE

1.Entering terms

a) Each institution is free to decide who can enter terms in the database, provided that it undertakes to monitor systematically and within a reasonable period the entries entered under its responsibility. Each institution will be responsible for monitoring its entries in accordance with this Best Practice.

b) Each institution undertakes to create and keep up-to-date entries relating to terminology peculiar to it, such as lists of internal committees and Working Parties, rules of procedure, specific procedures, etc.

c) Members of the Terminology Maintenance Network (TMN) will agree how to allocate terminology work relevant to several institutions, such as names of countries, taxonomy, international organisations, the Staff Regulations, etc. They will maintain a list of the topics given to each of the institutions which will undertake, in so far as their resources permit, to carry out the work for which they have accepted responsibility.

2. Validation

Validation is the opportunity to check the data on the entry and is thus a compulsory step in the creation and modification of entries with a view to guaranteeing their reliability. Each institution is free to decide how to organise validation, as long as it undertakes to carry it out within a reasonable period.

3. Maintenance

General principle

Each institution ensures that entries belonging to it are maintained and updated by

  • regular checking of new entries by PseudoSQL search strings, including detection of duplicates, assessing added terminological value, etc;

  • updating references;

  • systematic merging and/or deletion of superfluous entries;

  • consolidation projects.


When an institution responsible for a given topic updates the series of entries in question, it should inform its representative on the TMN3. Furthermore, when a terminologist updates a series of entries (e.g. after the adoption of a legislative act), he or she should likewise inform his or her representative on the TMN, who is responsible for forwarding the information to the persons concerned in the other institutions.

Consolidation projects

Whenever a person becomes aware of problems involving several languages or entries from different institutions, mixed entries, or entries on which the concept is badly defined, he or she should send suggestions for changes/consolidation of entries belonging to other institutions:

- to the TMN contact point of its own institution(s) where more than two languages are concerned

- to the terminologists for those languages in the other institution(s) (see official contact list) where only one or two languages are concerned

Where applicable, it may be expedient to clean up theinstitution's own entries before carrying out an interinstitutional consolidation.

Suggestions should be the result of careful scrutiny of entries, making clear that entries for which merging or deletion is suggested refer to the same concept. Particular consideration should be given to the possibility that the terms used in certain languages may describe reality differently (e.g. "one term/one concept" in one language may be subdivided into "two terms/two concepts" in other languages, making it difficult for that language to follow requested merges).

Criteria for becoming a primary entry

  • Overall coherence (one and the same concept for all languages)

  • Overall quality (amount of relevant information contained, such as definitions, quotations, usage notes, etc.)

  • Number of languages present


Entries concerning the organisational nomenclature of an institution or terminology specific to it (rules of procedure, etc.) should always belong to that institution.



Basic vocabulary

(extract from ISO 1087: Terminology - Vocabulary)

Concept (FR: notion):
A unit of thought constituted through abstraction on the basis of properties common to a set of objects. NOTE - Concepts are not bound to particular languages. They are, however, influenced by the social or cultural background.

Term (FR: terme):
Designation of a defined concept in a special language by a linguistic expression. NOTE - A term may consist of one or more words [i.e. simple term, or complex term] or even contain symbols.

Definition (FR: définition):
Statement which describes a concept and permits its differentiation from other concepts within a system of concepts.

Designation (FR: désignation):
Any representation of a concept.

Special language (FR: langue de spécialité):
Linguistic subsystem, intended for unambiguous communication in a particular subject field using a terminology and other linguistic means.

Terminology work (FR: travail terminologique):
Any activity concerned with the systematization and representation of concepts or with the presentation of terminologies on the basis of established principles and methods.

Terminology science (FR: science de la terminologie):
The scientific study of the concepts and terms found in special languages.

Terminography (FR: terminographie):
The recording, processing and presentation of terminological data acquired by terminological research.



Suggested uses for marks

Each institution is free to develop its own ways of dealing with marks. The following text contains some suggestions, based on current procedures at the Council.

1. Marks have been developed for maintenance purposes. They can always be used

  • for requests to merge or delete an entry containing no more than 2 languages, and in very obvious cases even if more than 2 languages are concerned,

  • to suggest modifications or corrections or to communicate a new or interesting reference, definition etc. to another language or institution,

  • for internal maintenance purposes, if no more than 2 languages are concerned.

They should not be used as a discussion forum, to ask for an opinion or to deal with urgent matters. These should be dealt with by e-mail.

If more than two languages or entries are concerned , requests should be submitted to central terminology and subsequently to the TMN in the form of consolidation projects.

2. Marks should be written in English, except for intralingual purposes.

3. If possible use the following standard wordings, in order to make the marks easily retrievable by PseudoSQL-searches:

  • XX (= language code) OK to delete

  • XX OK to delete, merged on to YY (=IATE entry number)

  • XX merged on to YY

  • OK to delete or merge in view of

  • please compare with…

  • XX last OK to delete

4. Always check that no other entries are concerned by your merge request. If more than two entries and/or two languages are concerned and the entries are not obvious duplicates, please submit a consolidation proposal to your central terminology. Check for other duplicates in FR, EN and your own language first.

5. Entries cannot be deleted without the consent of all languages concerned, except those with a reliability value of 1 (= entered by a non-native speaker) or 0 (= downgraded prior to deletion) and provided the concept and the term are exactly the same and there is no other useful information (definition, reference) in that language.

6. The type of mark (merge/deletion/form/other) should always be specified.

7. The last language to agree on a merge or deletion, should add a mark "XX last OK to delete" addressed to central terminology.

8. Do not merge or delete a language without the agreement of the other language(s). If no more than two languages are concerned, wait for confirmation from the other language before deleting yours. Where the merge is multilingual, central terminology will delete all the languages on the entry once agreement has been received.

9. Entries in the framework of consolidation projects should be marked by terminology coordinators with the number of the project.



Template e-mail for obtaining permission to use personal data of experts in IATE



Following your request [possible specification of means or date, etc.] to be identified as a source of information in the IATE database, please confirm by simple return of this email that the following data about you are correct.

Your confirmatory reply will constitute your consent on the processing of your personal data as described below, as well as acknowledgement of the information received.

Your data:


Job title:



Important information:

The data provided will be used to indicate you as source for the term(s) you provided/suggested. This data will be visible in the internal version of IATE [and/but not] in the public version of IATE available on the Internet at http://iate.europa.eu. The data controller of the IATE database for the [institution] is [name and job title].

Your personal data will be processed in accordance with the relevant rules applicable to the processing of personal data by European institutions and bodies.4 In particular, you have the right to access these data and request their modification or erasure at any time. Please note that without your explicit request for deletion, your data will remain in the database for an undetermined period. To exercise any of these rights or request the deletion of your data, please contact us using the present e-mail address or the address [generic IATE email address or other].

You have the right to have recourse to the European Data Protection Supervisor at any time.

Best regards,

1See in particular

- Council Resolution of 8 June 1993 on the quality of drafting of Community legislation (OJ C 166/93);

- Declaration No 39 attached to the Final Act of the Treaty of Amsterdam (Declaration on the quality of the drafting of Community legislation);

- Interinstitutional Agreement of 22 December 1998 on common guidelines for the quality of drafting of Community legislation (OJ C 73/99)

2Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data.

3See the Joint Decision of the TCG and of the DMG of 21 March 2005

4Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data.