I'm looking for some method for automating the localization process for an InDesign document.

Basically, I want to be able to take the contents of the file, translate it into a few other languages (using machine translation) then rebuild the document that many times with all the formatting maintained. The document is already using things like threaded master frames anchored objects to keep the graphics in-line with the text, so the length changing shouldn't be an issue. I'm not sure how to maintain the paragraph and character styles though.

  • 6
    Be strongly warned: machine translations are notorious for being flawed with grammatical and idiomatic mistakes to the point that it can obscure the statements and information you want to get across. This might create a negative impression of the originator/brand.
    – TehMacDawg
    Nov 17, 2013 at 12:33
  • 2
    Read: "Be strongly warned" as "DO NOT DO THIS." Get a professional.
    – horatio
    Dec 17, 2013 at 15:20
  • @horatio machine translated text is hilarious, I once read a machine translated safety warning that quite literally had one correctly translated word in it. I mean what would you make out of a sentence that has no subject or predicate, but only agents. Machine translation may be a startingpoint between related languages. Btw google translate keeps getting worse over time.
    – joojaa
    Apr 16, 2014 at 14:02
  • I would like to repeat the above references: do not use computing translations if you are self-esteemed those who are reading and if you have a suicide. It will never be right or good. (Due to an eye sample, this reference was transmitted from another language, and it ... is ...) Jul 30, 2018 at 11:35
  • [A proper—human—translation: I’d like to echo the previous comments: don’t use machine translation if those who will be reading the text are actual humans and you can avoid it. It will never come out properly. (By way of practical example, this comment was machine translated from another language, and it’s… well…)] Jul 30, 2018 at 11:37

3 Answers 3


There are few options:

  • Redokun https://redokun.com (disclaimer: I’m one of the Co-Founders) - Export all the sentences in an Excel file, translate them and then reimport the sentences into the InDesign files automatically. However, the tool doesn't provide a way to translate automatically. That would result in an unprofessional work, as some users already said.
  • Make an InDesign script, although there are a few things to keep in mind when exporting/importing phrases from InDesign
  • Use a (paid) tool (InPagina come to mind, but there are a few of them).

There are also more advanced 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.


This might be easiest done by linking a text file.

By default, text you place in InDesign is not linked to the original text file. However, if you select the Create Links When Placing Text And Spreadsheet Files option in File Handling preferences before you place a file, the name of the text file appears in the Links panel. You can use the Links panel to update and manage the file. 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. However, you can easily use the Links panel to update content or to unlink (embed) the file.

Do one of the following: To apply this change to a document, open the document.

To apply this change to any new document you create, close all documents.

Choose Edit > Preferences > File Handling (Windows) or InDesign > Preferences > File Handling (Mac OS). To create links in placed files, select Create Links When Placing Text And Spreadsheet Files. If this option is turned on, use the Links panel to update, relink, or remove links. If this option is turned off, text files are embedded (not linked).

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Source: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/indesign/cs/using/WS714a382cdf7d304e7e07d0100196cbc5f-6199a.html#WSa285fff53dea4f8617383751001ea8cb3f-6f63a and http://blog.lynda.com/2012/05/10/indesign-secrets-linking-a-table-to-an-excel-spreadsheet-for-easy-updating/


There is a (paid-for) add-on for InDesign that does exactly what you're asking for. It will machine-translate (using Google Translate) an InDesign document. It keeps all paragraph and character styles intact (which is probably the toughest requirement in the original question). If wanted, it will create new duplicates of the paragraph and character styles, changing just the language setting (and if needs be, the text direction: from left-to-right to right-to-left). And it does this all in-place (just like Google Translate for a web page), so you don't need to "rebuild" the InDesign document. It's created by Id-Extras.com: https://www.id-extras.com/products/translate

So this would definitely be a step forward in automating the localization process for an InDesign document. (Disclaimer: I am the programmer of this add-on.)

  • You might want to add that you're not affiliated with this product if you you're not to prevent it from getting flagged as spam. Thanks for the post! Feb 14, 2018 at 19:07

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