In the organization I work with - we often have PDFs we use for Sales that I have to customize to the client we sell to. This happens often with the same PDFs.

The salesmen want the flagship document I've designed in Indesign, to be customized with a picture of the client and the client's logo somewhere on it, also some change in language sometimes. So this requires me to open Indesign and make those tweaks each time, and I'm the only designer in the org - so sometimes they have to wait.

The salesmen were wondering: Is there a way I can create a PDF and upload it to some sort of software where they can just make those small tweaks to images and text? This way, they can send the document whenever they'd like instead of waiting on me. We agreed that them learning InDesign wouldn't be efficient - is there another way?

Thanks so much!

  • 3
    Just from a quality standpoint.. you do not want salesmen altering anything with respect to design. They'll much it up for sure and devalue your company brand... even if they aren't trying to. They need to learn to be more patient. – Scott Jul 15 '20 at 18:32
  • I agree with @Scott; however in a broader sense, your question applies to many "real-world" situations for designers: We design great stuff in InDesign, and in the end, the client needs a Word-Template or a Powerpoint document because he needs the content to be editable. I wish there was a "backend/frontend"-kind of solution for InDesign, where Designers could do all of the Design work … and unlock text fields or image placeholders for clients in the frontend. – dom Jul 15 '20 at 19:24
  • I would agree with Scott. I have had to do similar docs in the past. It always ended in disasters. Either they the ruin the visual look, looks unprofessional or the sales team do their tweaks and then hand it to me to polish up. Quite often it would be more work to polish the tweaks. The worst I had was someone tweaking the doc and breaking a load of BPI regulations. – LemonJeBoum Jul 15 '20 at 19:32
  • I would say look at your workflow. Take advantage of zing designs strengths to make the amends quicker. It was I have done on my docs. Also @Dom, have you looked at InCopy. I use that at my place with certain people and it helps a lot. – LemonJeBoum Jul 15 '20 at 19:35
  • 2
    .. ask the salesmen if you can close their deals for them.... after all you will have as much experience there as they have in editing design documents. – Scott Jul 15 '20 at 22:08

Aside from the ensuing quality control issues already mentioned by others here in the comments, the problem is that PDF is not really designed to be an editable format. It's a publishing format. Although there is software that can open PDFs and edit them, such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, LibreOffice Draw, and even online PDF editors, the extent to which it will be easily editable can be problematic. For example, paragraphs of text will likely be converted into single lines, causing problems if you want the text to flow as a paragraph. This is probably not a route you want to go down if ease of editability is the goal. It can get really messy!

For a fully editable workflow, one would usually open the source document in the software originally used to create it, and then export as PDF.

One possible solution might be to use Adobe InCopy to edit the InDesign document, although the problem of learning new software still exists, plus there's the issue that the software costs money. InCopy is basically a word processor designed to integrate with InDesign. This solution might also address the quality control issues to some extent. It is possible to lock down the layout of the design so that only areas specified by the designer are actually editable in InCopy.

Another feasible solution would be to recreate the document as an MS Word template. Obviously there's still a cost implication here since recreating it will take up your valuable time. It would however at least solve the problem of having to learn and install new software, since many office workers already know how to use it.


to be customized with a picture of the client and the client's logo somewhere on it, also some change in language sometimes.

Define your workflow. There is a process called variable data or data merge, and you probably need to look at it.

The basic idea is that you have a table with the data that needs to change, let's say a name, and the location of the images.


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