How To Save Time And Money With InDesign Files

How To Save Time And Money With InDesign Files

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If you have InDesign files and need to translate them, you know how much of a pain in the back it may be. It’s really not the easiest thing to do and let’s be honest – time is money. Why not save it?

We Made It

The good news is – it can be done directly in the Text United system. Yes, you read it right! The requirement: your files need to be ready for the Text United’s application crawler to take out all the words needed for translation. In order to make sure that you don’t require any desktop publishing staff intervention, make sure to follow the tricks below, so your files are fit for automatic processing. We will go full nerd on you, but we promise – you won’t be disappointed.

First things first: Images

When a file contains an image with important text a crawler will see it, but not select it for translation. That’s why it is absolutely necessary to make sure that every word that needs translation is typed in the InDesign file. If you are not working yourself on the file, just tell your InDesign person to type the words in a new text frame and place it over the image, with a filled background.

Let’s go tech-y now. To test if all the text is translatable, do the following (also good for checking the .docx files):

  1. With Ctrl+F open Find/Change
  2. Under “Find what:” search for Wildcards>Any Letter.
  3. Under “Change to: type “X”.
  4. Click “Change all”, and this will change all the letters (not numbers) to Xs.

It should look exactly like this:


The numbers are still numbers, but you can also change them too to Xs if you opt for “Any Character” instead of “Any Letter” in the Find/Change control.

Note that every letter is changed to X, except the text that is a part of the image. When you save your file in IDML format, all images will only be grey boxes, so any text that is on images won’t be visible at all. Do you think that’s good for translation?  Well, nobody will know that there is any text in the images technically. So you guessed it – still not.

Text United’s accepts InDesign files in the IDML format.

IDML format will keep the information about links and text, but won’t show the preview of images in it. Instead, it will show a bit sad, grey boxes like this:

Now you know whether the text is actually text and not a part of an image. Change back the X’s to the letters they were before with Ctrl+Z, or open “Edit” and Undo Replace Text. Congrats, you’ve just learned a new trick!

Writing: Typing and Content Creation

Proper technique for typing and creating content helps a lot with creating useful and clean translation memory. This means that you shouldn’t cut your sentence into two paragraphs (symbol for a paragraph is : ¶).

Make sure that every sentence is properly written, with all the punctuation properly used, because you want your document to be consistent in style, and you need your sentences translated properly for future translations.

Most common mistake: InDesign is using multiple spaces, and not using indents and alignment. For setting the position of a sentence, it is better to use text boxes, indents and alignment. Don’t position your text with dozens of tabs or spaces to move it right.

A tip: use a shortcut for “Indent to here”, which automatically sets the beginning of the next line according to a mark you set on the previous line. You can set your shortcut first!

  1. From the “Edit” menu select “Keyboard Shortcuts”
  2. From Product Area: select “Type Menu” and “Insert Special Character”
  3. In “New Shortcut” you can set whatever you like most, like ‘ctrl +q’



When you have it already set:

  1. Use ‘Shift + Enter and set your ‘Indent to here’ with the keyboard shortcut
  2. Don’t use dozens of tabs

When an IDML file is ready for translation, with all texts properly arranged, it doesn’t need to be checked by a DTP person. But, when a new language replaces the source language sentences, some adjustments are required. Some languages take more words to express a meaning. One paragraph of four lines in German is usually translated to a paragraph of five lines. To fix that, your DTP person can reduce leading points to add more space so more rows can fit the page or the text box.

Now, the Star: IDML Preview

We prepared unique method for providing translators with a live preview of the translated file. This is a special converter, which enables them to see how the text looks like in the document being translated (and they don’t need InDesign application for that!). You can see on the left side what a page looks like in InDesign, and on the right side, you can see what a translator can see.


Translators won’t be bothered with details such as design, fonts, and colors, but they will see that something is in the table, or something is a description under an image, or whatever the text is describing. That can help them to understand the meaning.

Now, when you send (nicely prepared) IDML file for translation, Text United system will provide translators with this IDML preview, and that way you’re saving time and money as DTP work can be skipped. You will still have to fix the target language to fit into the text frames once the translation is finished. But I think it doesn’t sound so bad now, right?


The little plus sign marks a frame that contains a text which couldn’t fit and double-clicking will reveal it. This happens when the target language needs more space. The original text could fit this particular frame, but when translated, it shows it needs to be expanded. As the target language can be longer, expanding it will spread the text over other text. So, you’ll have to reduce the font size, reduce tracking to -15, or less usually, up to -30.

Ready, Set, Go

Once the file is translated, anybody with access to InDesign can check the file, see if all the images are in their places and if all the texts fit their frames. Some languages are more difficult to handle though, and some more tricks might be needed to wrap it all up.

Of course, you maybe don’t want to spend time on fixing source documents – in this case, Text United DTP team is here to give you a hand and to make sure all your files are perfectly prepared.

Use The Tricks, Be Impressed! 

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