I have to make emergency templates for 4 different size media. There are some portrait and some landscape. Each of the 4 sizes has the same content, so I made paragraph styles and rules to flow the copy into the text fields properly. I've got it set up so I can copy the master word doc and paste it on to each page and it automatically formats the fields: Emergency type, Headline, Date, Sub-head, Body copy.

What I'm looking for is a way I can just paste it once and each page grabs the same copy since all the fields are the same. I've tried the content collector, but that seems to take just as long. My next thought was making imcl stories, but I heard there was an easier way to link text.

Edit: Here is a screenshot of my pages with text boxes Each master page has the same 5 threaded text fields. I just need away to have the same text be on all of the different pages.

2 Answers 2


Don't copy and paste, it separates the content from the source file. Place your content from your word doc (Ctrl + D) - you can then format the imported document once.

  • It's not always from a word doc. It's usually straight from an email at 2 am. Nov 27, 2017 at 20:38
  • 2
    Then I would suggest a master word doc template to paste your emails into - when you open ID you will be asked if you want to update the word file that's linked to the document. you can choose (Yay or Nay) Nov 27, 2017 at 23:00
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    There are several ways to achieve what you'd like: liquid layout (not easy), cross references (possibly but only if your "fields" are single paragraphs) and... probably the best tool... content collector. It would have been nice to see a screenshot of your layout and a more detailed explanation of your workflow in order to give the right advice. But as far as I understand it, you don't use master pages and you create 4 pages with different sizes. Am I right? Also do you use different text frames? Threaded or not? Please provide a screenshot (normal mode + all objects selected + Pages panel)
    – Vinny
    Nov 28, 2017 at 8:34

There are to ways to do this easily. Method one (the way I would do it):
Create a Variable in InDesign (Type \ Text Variables \ Define... \ New)
Name the variable
Set the type to "Custom Text".
Enter the text you want each sign to have, then click "OK".
Delete the original text, and insert the variable into each text frame via Type \ Text Variables \ Insert Variable \ [select your custom variable]
Apply your paragraph styles as needed.

Once this is set up, you will only need to edit the variable for future signs to automatically update.
You can edit the variable via (Type \ Text Variable \ Define..), then select your variable and click "Edit."

The second method would be to create a single-record database and set up the document as a data merge. It may seem like overkill to go through that trouble for a simple piece like this, but if you're doing enough of them, it might make sense. You can edit the database and update the merge very quickly with practice.

  • The variable won't work for the type of line breaks and paragraph styles I made. So I ended up redoing the whole project from the bottom up. I made the first master and then made all of the others alternate layouts. That way I can customize the layout and all the pages different paragraph styles. Now when I edit the first page and update the link it cascades. Nov 30, 2017 at 16:13

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