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I’m working with an InDesign file and now I need to get the file translated in a few languages. The translators that I’m working with asked for an excel or word file. Is there an integrated InDesign functionality or a plugin to export all the sentences in excel or word and then re-import the translations back?

This would speed up the whole process by a lot.

  • If you have found any of the answers below to have answered your question please make sure to mark it as the accepted answer. If the answers do not answer your question please make an edit seeking clarity. – DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Dec 21 '16 at 18:48
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Doing that in Word is less than ideal because then it would be tricky to reimport the translated sentences in the right place, assuming you don't speak the target language. You could use a table though to keep the phrases in the right order (eg. a column with the source language and one with the target language), but at that point it makes more sense to use an Excel file.

That said, check out Redokun (disclaimer: I'm a Co-Founder) which is built to do just that. It extracts all the sentences in a Microsoft Excel or XLIFF file, then you can forward the file to your translator and finally when he or she has translated the file, you can import the file on Redokun and get back the translated InDesign file.

Of course, there are other tools, like InPagina or other paid plugins but they are more oriented to the 'database publishing' approach.

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There's a few ways to extract the texts from Indesign.

You can select all the text and go in "export" and then select RTF as format. You can export as html and then copy that text to a text file if you have texts not linked and in many different text frames. You can create a PDF and export as text but it often cut the sentences and add breaks. You can also export that PDF in html and copy the text, etc.

There's also scripts for this but unfortunately I don't know them.

It's easier to link your text file than exporting the texts; so maybe it will be more work to extract that text first for this time. See below.


To re-import the texts, you can link the text file as you would for an image; whenever that text file will be updated, the text in InDesign will be updated as well. It's also possible to keep some formatting and use the same stylesheet as the one in your InDesign.

But be careful if you make text changes in InDesign, it will not be updated the other way around on the text file! Only do text changes on the original text file.

Your translator will need to be very careful and not add extra page breaks or change too much your own formatting besides the character styles. But this method is still way faster then having to re-insert everything every time; all you'll need to do is relink the text file in InDesign and re-adjust the content because some sentences might take more room in one language and less in another.

  • Thank you for your response. This is interesting, but also scary because of the constraint of having to leave the exact same line breaks. This can be a problem because there may be additional paragraphs in some languages (separated by line breaks). – Apolline Gouged Sep 18 '15 at 15:52
  • @ApollineGouged Yeah, scary indeed if you can't even verify the text written in a language you don't know. I haven't tried with an Excel file though and maybe there's a way to associate each cell with a text frame somehow. That would be less risky than a plain text in Word. Unfortunately I have no idea if it can be done! You should try importing an Excel file and see if it gives you some options like this, or in worse case look online for a plugin. It's worth having a look, that'd be a great time saver for you. If you find a solution, you should post your answer! – go-junta Sep 18 '15 at 16:23
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The translators are asking that because they do not know the real process. In this case they need to evolve a bit thinking of the big picture.

Take a look at Incopy

  • InCopy could be a solution, but I see it more a tool for copyrighters than translators. They usually need translation memories, plus you have to consider that InCopy is another tool to buy and install for each translator. If they are freelance translators they rather use another software that they already use and is more translation-oriented. – paul.ago Mar 16 '16 at 19:30

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