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I use InDesign for layout of pieces which range from 2 to 72+ pages.

On occasion I'll get a client request to send a PDF and Word file for the latest iteration of a piece so that someone somewhere can review the copy and edit it as necessary (Often legal reviews). The goal is an easily edited Word file which has identical text when compared to the original InDesign file.

I know there's no direct path from InDesign to Word. I'm aware of 2 methods for this conversion....


Method 1:

Export InDesign to PDF, open PDF in Acrobat, save as Microsoft Word file from Acrobat.

  • This is typically pretty horrible at maintaining any sort of edit-ability. Contents can and will drop out at times or be split into non-editable "woven" sections of text based upon InDesign elements. This method, more often than not, creates a mess which can take hours to actually clean up to a logical usable form for editing.
  • I am aware of some online PDF to Word converters. These typically do a much better job of maintaining the PDF appearance in the resulting Word file. However, they tend to increase the complexity of things in Word in an effort to maintain layout - increasing the occurrences of "woven" elements in Word, where a line can't be edited without trowing off things everywhere else - making for much more difficult editing in Word. That's not my goal.

Method 2:

Simply select and copy in InDesign, Paste into an open Word document. I then select all and reset the font to Calibri, and color to black, and on rare occasions, unify the types sizes.

  • In general, this method works well - while being more manual in nature. The fewer text frames in InDesign the easier this method becomes. But even if text is split into multiple frames, it's merely a matter of manually copying text in a frame, pasting, copy next fame paste, etc. In general, this method doesn't account for graphics. Yes, I could copy/paste graphics into Word as well. But that's just an unwarranted headache presenting more problems than its worth. (Most often things are fine without any graphics - it's text which needs to be examined.)

I'm wondering... Does anyone have a better method to move all text from an InDesign file to a Word file? Copy/pasting can take quite some time if there are a lot of small text frames in InDesign — which are logical to have at times due to layout (I do always try and keep the amount of text frames to a bare minimum.)

My ideal solution would be a solid text (or Word) file which contains all the text present in an InDesign file and possibly maintains type sizes (so hierarchy is seen.) I'm not concerned with maintaining colors, fonts, indents, graphics, etc.

Searching online pretty much leads to "tutorials" for method #1 above - with or without using online converters.

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  • Your method 2 is easily automated via os scripting facilities but i have no idea how to do it on a mac. You could do this with jsx too if you only knew in which sequence the frames need to be read.
    – joojaa
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 4:01
  • @joojaa scripting isn't really a strong point for me - but I'l look into it. Frames merely need to be read in the order they appear in the INDD file... p1, p2, p3, etc. Most often the document has a couple frames on p1, then starting on p2 1 frame for the rest of the document. Any subsequent frames would be callouts or associated with graphics. Even IF frames were read slightly out of order, fixing that in a text or Word file is minimal.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 4:27
  • Have you tried xml export of indesign? Might be easier who knows.
    – joojaa
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 6:16
  • Yeah.. xml/html export, of course, can be done. And I can se BBEdit to translate HTML to text, but ultimately it creates quite the mess because it's still trying to maintain layout to a degree, even when everything is stripped from the export options.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 17:00

1 Answer 1

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I am not sure whether this is the best way but here it is... I use Articles panel for this. I put everything I need to be exported in articles. It is very easy to define order of items. After that I export to html. Then use Microsoft Word to open html.

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  • This does work, but unfortunately adding each frame as an article isn't really any faster than merely copy/pasting into Word or a text file. But, this does allow one to control the order of frames in the export a bit more. It's merely not more efficient. It's more along the lines of equivalent.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 16:56

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