I have quite a large document, a product catalogue to be specific, which I have to translate. I tried doing this manually and exporting to RTF, which is tedious because of the rearrangements I have to make afterwards. Any suggestions in how to do accomplish this task more efficiently?

  • I don’t understand the problem, or indeed your setup. What does translating have to do with importing and exporting RTF? Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 19:46
  • 2
    As far as I am concerned, heavy catalogs should be done with plugins such as EasyCatalog that ease the process of translating the data while keeping layout adornments. However you can give Redokun a try. They intend to ease the translation process with a SAAS solution : redokun.com
    – Loic
    Commented Jan 21, 2018 at 16:17

3 Answers 3


this is Stefano and I am Co-Founder at Redokun (the tool Loic suggested).

There are a couple of ways to translate an InDesign file, and they generally go throw the IDML file format.

There are also some workflows you should avoid. Many people use scripts, plugins, or copy/paste the translations manually from a Word/Excel file but:

  1. Copy/Paste - Besides being time-consuming, this method might be very inaccurate, especially when working with languages that you don't know well.
  2. Scripts - I am a huge fan of scripts. Before starting Redokun I had a script that exported the sentences and then copied the translations back. The issue with scripts again is accuracy. InDesign has lots of features and people use them in many different ways. The developer generally doesn’t have access to any data to understand the script’s performance or where it fails. To me it happened a few times that not all the text was imported or exported.
  3. Plugins – They generally are quite powerful, but if you find yourself dealing with an issue, the developer doesn’t have access to your system and your files, so support can be very difficult and time-consuming. They also lack many important features that you want to have when translating a file (like Translation Memories, import/export of TMs, basic collaboration features, etc.)
  4. InCopy – Many times I've seen InCopy suggested around the web. However, InCopy is not the right tool for this task. It doesn't have the right features. And it takes so long to set it up! And after that you're not even sure that all the segments have been selected (and will be translated).

The right way would be:

Create your document to be translation-friendly (https://indesignsecrets.com/tips-multilingual-indesign-projects.php) – it might seem trivial, but your InDesign file has a lot of impact in the translation result! Export the document in IDML and then:

  1. If you don't care about having control over the translation of your document, you can ask your translators to take the IDML and give you back a translated IDML file. In this case I'd suggest you to send them also a PDF of your document.

  2. Otherwise, you can use a tool for translators (They can handle IDML files) and send an XLIFF file to your translators. Trados is the most used – but the learning curve is steep – you need a course to learn how to use it.

  3. Or if you want an easy to use solution you should try Redokun (https://redokun.com) – we offer a free 14-day trial.

After you upload an IDML document in Redokun, you can translate the text online (with our Web tool) or offline (you export an Excel or XLIFF file) and then generate a new translated IDML file.

The advantages with Redokun are that you can deal with the translation very easily but you can also deal with last-minute changes or updates in seconds – they are quite frequent.

A fellow InDesign user once told me "We all know that the word 'final' does not mean the same thing to a designer as it does to a translator!”

Update: I am adding a link to a PDF I wrote that contains lots of the tips I generally share with InDesign users facing this issue: https://redokun.com/l/simple-indesign-file-translation (I am not adding the direct link cause we translated it into ES and IT)

  • I'd deserve a medal if it were
    – Stefano
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 14:21
  • We've been working on solving this specific task for years :) - Lucian, we already are indexed quite good on Google and, if you check, Loic is one of the best InDesign plugin developers in the industry – quite hard that he posted a reply just for helping us with a spam scheme
    – Stefano
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 14:22
  • 1
    many thanks for the insight. it is most helpful. i'll surely try the tool and see how it goes. Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 14:35
  • I am adding more info to this topic. I wrote a PDF with
    – Stefano
    Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 13:40

InCopy is the right tool (I'm afraid I disagree with Stefano!). Save all the text material in your InDesign as linked ICML files, and then your translators can edit these directly.

The problem is that it's very likely your translators won't have a licence to use InCopy.

Ideally we want Adobe to offer a workflow whereby third parties can directly edit InCopy files without actually owning an InCopy licence.

However, in the absence of this, the best workflow I can think of is:

  • Link all your text material to ICML files
  • Open those ICML files in InCopy, select all the text, copy it and save it to a plain TXT file
  • Send the TXT files to your translator for translation
  • Copy and paste each line of the translated text back in to the ICML file

Although laborious, the benefit of this approach is:

  • The translator can focus just on the text itself (doesn't have to navigate any formatting)
  • The translator cannot accidentally introduce any formatting
  • When pasting back into InCopy, again you retain the formatting specified in InDesign and can't accidentally break it
  • P.S. I'd love to see an online tool where you can upload an ICML file and then others can edit the text content. I've never seen one of these! Commented May 22, 2020 at 12:02

you can use https://it-tun.com/translator for automating the translation process based on the google translate API, if you want to export the texts and translate them manually there's also https://it-tun.com/exporter

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