When setting the page ordering of a book in inDesign, I am having trouble figuring out how to have the same document show up twice. I am creating a business book that has the same forms appearing multiple times. How do i duplicate those documents?

When I attempt to add them again, I get the message "'filename.indd' can't be added to the book. The document is already part of the book."

What do I do?


What you can actually do is exporting the relevant text frame to ICML (InCopy markup). ICML files can be placed multiple times⁰, and when you try to edit their content, you'll end up having to check out the frame⁺ and afterwards checking it in again. Any other placement of that file will then show up as an outdated link that needs refreshing. You can also use InCopy to edit the ICML file alone, by the way. More information can be found at https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/sharing-content.html.

If you try to place an ICML file within a text frame, though, you'll end up with an unlinked copy, which means synchronisation won't work. As a workaround:

  • create a temporary InDesign document
  • place the ICML file directly as a linked text frame
  • mark the frame and export that as IDMS (InDesign snippet)
  • no need to save the temporary InDesign document
  • place the IDMS snippet inside any text frame you want

The IDMS simply contains the information "text frame linked to ICML file", and that can be placed inside another text frame to maintain the linked property and thus the synchronization. Just don't try nesting linked text frames within linked text frames, that seems to horribly fail...

⁰ You should however not do this multiple times within one document, otherwise you'll end up with a weird re-synchronisation feedback loop...

⁺ Which effectively means locking the ICML file so you or your colleagues don't accidentally modify the same file synchronously which would lead to content conflicts.


Indesign doesn't really have the capacity to gather elements and create multiple versions of the same book. This is what Adobe Framemaker does. It takes pieces and combines them into a working manual/book. Framemaker also allows you to use the pieces in several Framemaker documents.

If you aren't interested in Frammaker, or don't have this need on a regular basis. Then Lauren's comment about simply duplicating the original file and using that, is appropriate. Indesign locks pieces into its "books". If you need the same piece in multiple books, you need to duplicate the piece. This can create problems when edits are needed.

Perhaps a better option using Indesign is to create a new document, the same size and page count as filename2.indd. Lets call this new document NEW.indd. Then use File > Place to place all the pages of filename2.indd into the NEW.indd document. What this does is merely create uneditable representations of the indesign pages. So... if you subsequently update or edit filename2.indd you can then open NEW.indd and update the links. This is generally much easier than trying to apply the same edits to multiple documents.

  • 1
    +1 for the placed pages options. Much more efficient than duplicating. – plainclothes Dec 20 '12 at 1:24
  • Framemaker looks like it might do the trick. I used the new document method last month and that seemed to get me by. I'll talk to the print shop about framemaker soon. – drewwyatt Dec 24 '12 at 6:30
  • @drewwyatt Probably no longer relevant, but for InDesign, there is a way to reuse text frames by exporting them to ICML. See my answer for details. – Tobias Kienzler Jan 6 '17 at 9:13

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