What are the best practice for translating documents in InDesign?

I guess there is some mechanism for import-export XML like Illustrator Variables to translate without using installed Indesign?

I'm thinking about this workflow:

  1. export InDesign data into XML
  2. translate texts inside XML
  3. import XML into InDesign
  4. correct translated pages

2 Answers 2


Depending on how you plan to do the translation and how your InDesign document is set up, the simplest approach might be to export the individual stories as RTF files, which will retain all your stylesheet information. The translations can be done using the RTF files then imported back to a copy of the original InDesign file using 'File > Place' with the cursor in an empty text frame. This is how I normally approach a project like this. The down side is that you will inevitably end up with a great deal of copyfitting work to compensate for the different lengths of text in each language.

Exporting as XML requires you to first set up the XML structure in InDesign, which can be a tedious process if your document is large and complex. The advantage is that you can recreate the entire document from the XML using a template. I would only consider this workflow if you have a large number of translations to do and the tools to work easily with the XML data once it's exported. James Malvaid's excellent "A Designer's Guide to Adobe InDesign and XML" is your reference for the techniques you'll need.

If this is a workflow you expect to be using on a continuing basis with fixed number of staff translators, you might find that using InCopy will work out best in the long run.


There are a few ways to do it:

Redokun https://redokun.com (disclaimer: I’m a co-founder) Export all the sentences in an Excel file, translate them and then reimport the sentences into the InDesign files.

Otherwise, there are a few (paid) tools (InPagina come to mind, but there are a few of them). There are also some solutions that save your document layout and information in a database and automatically create your InDesign document. These solutions are very powerful, they are able to manage any changes you make and store your translations.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.