I have two questions regarding inDesign and external files:

  • How can I flow together several word files into a single text frame while maintaining their links?

  • And how can I add a anchored inline image to a frame where the content is an external word file?

This is driving me crazy.


2 Answers 2


I don't think either of these are possible.

1) Because the "link" is actually to the text frame, not the content within the frame.

2) It may be possible via scripting, but again, with linked text I strongly doubt it.


Break it up and have the illusion of flowing text. There is no need to have all of it in one text box. As far as having them coexist in one box as a linked file (not placed), this does not look to be possible.

With respect to inline images, place an image and set up runaround. In indesign this is achieved using the "text wrap palette."

Frankly, there are a whole lot of reasons not to link text files. Adobe hints:

"When you update a linked text file, any editing or formatting changes applied within InDesign are lost. Because of this risk, linked text files are not automatically updated when the original file is edited."

In a document of any complexity, especially with multiple people involved who are not well-versed in the workflow, little changes become total train wrecks 5 pages later. Helpful features such as "auto-added pages" etc become weapons of mass destruction.

  • Wouldn't this defeat the purpose of of what i'm trying to accomplish? Any early changes to the document and then I would have to adjust all beginning/ends all the way through. My typical workflow uses page/column breaks so I only have to adjust once anywhere in the flow. That and I love to use anchored images so I have less moving around of images to deal with.For now i've detached myself from the prospect of external text.
    – mikedoth
    Sep 6, 2013 at 14:23
  • Yeah, it does defeat the purpose of live-linked text, but any later edits to the linked file will remove any inDesign formatting. The further into the project, the more this matters. You can edit the local (indesign) copy of the linked text documents (and presumably insert inline images), but they get blown away when you update the linked file.
    – horatio
    Sep 6, 2013 at 14:30
  • Note however that if you set up style sheets for your word doc and have them/import them when linking, you can work around the problem of losing formatting. Local (e.g. not explicitly named style) formatting will be cleared as far as I know
    – horatio
    Sep 6, 2013 at 14:41
  • I was able to figure that out, which helped until I tried to add images and would loose formatting due to the lack of object style support. There is the obvious work around of flattening your artwork before adding it to the word doc though but that seemed too drawn out for my workflow.
    – mikedoth
    Sep 6, 2013 at 17:16

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