A client needs me to design a brochure for her. The problem is that she wants to edit and change the text and maybe also change some of the pictures herself.

However, she doesn't have any of the Adobe software or the knowledge to use these.

Is there any alternative?

  • Does the client want to do this for proofing the artwork? Or is there another reason why the client would like to edit the working file directly?
    – AndrewH
    Apr 4, 2016 at 17:16
  • I think it is a good question, and it is nearly just like mail merge. I would render my In-design into a fillable PDF form where you specify the location of your changeable text as a form with dummy text. and use PDF mail merge free software to combine an external spreadsheet into the fillable PDF file. This solution is valid only for Texts. So every time your client want to change any text , she will change it into the excel sheet. this solution could be extended using Adobe Acrobat, but you already said that your client done not have any Adobe product.
    – hsawires
    Apr 4, 2016 at 17:34
  • 1
    If You like the Text and images to be changed too ... I would deliver my design into HTML format.
    – hsawires
    Apr 4, 2016 at 17:35
  • The reason is, that the clients isn't sure about the final text, and wants to be able to change it later. She also want to re-use the design again on a different project with different text.
    – user63954
    Apr 6, 2016 at 10:39

5 Answers 5


Experienced clients will probably know its impossible to edit inhouse without the actual software installed, or the knowledge of using it. A client who has had brochures made by other providers in the past will know the "usual" routine is to have the designer (or somebody else with access to the software and the source files) make reviews based on comments they could post on PDF proofs.

There are a few InDesign plugins out there that will export your design into RTF format which could be reviewed in MS Word, but it won't look pretty, and you'll probably end up reviewing the InDesign yourself to include the update.

Personally I would just politely say I can't help with this, and move on.


Not really. You can circumvent the problem in several ways.

  1. Use a software she can use. Usually this means to use MS Word, with all pains that come with this, or better yet PowerPoint. Or use something esle like webpage.

  2. Use a software that overlays on the PDF like PDF mail merge (thanks @hsawires). This might work better. Off course you lose the typographic control of inDesign.

  3. Use a network location that calls inDesign to do it on your end. This is off course forbidden in your TOS. But its possible to do this even without server licenses, only you must run inDesign as administrator which is a bit pain in a server.


I've come across this countless amounts of times. And whilst it would be nice to be able to stick just to clients who understand your work, life isn't like that. If it's a brochure that requires printing externally, then point out that it would need crop and bleed, and that the file definitely needs to be done in InDesign. However, if it's for a publication that's being emailed around, or printed in-house, I'd suggest PowerPoint.

For the company I work for, I've created a backup template in PowerPoint for the publications that I work on, so, in an emergency (lets say I actually decided to take some annual leave) they can bang-out a very simple, cave-man version

Try politely explaining to them what you actually do. Because what you do isn't just dropping in their text and some nice pictures. It's working on the alignment, formatting, sentence structure, design, over-all page design, and pagination. It's easy for those who don't have the creative skills we do to forget that it's not that easy.


Workflow is the answer.

There is an aplication called InCopy for colaborative work.


That solves the text issue.

For Photos you can have the photos on one shared hard drive, and you can just replace the file with other with the same name.

But be aware that people that do not know Graphic design makes, sometimes, dumb decisions, for example update a low resolution image with a completly diferent proportion or color model.

The same with the text. Changing text could mean that one row is pushed out of the page and the text becomes

Got the idea?

You also need to educate your clients. Once I called my Medical doctor and asked him a general medicine every time I wanted to change my illness. That did not worked very well.


It's possible for non-InDesign users to edit, review, approve and translate existing InDesign files online using one2edit™ (www.1io.com). A simple text editor allows them to see their changes 'in context', exactly as it will appear in print.

  • Hi Colm Doherty. Welcome to GraphicDesign.StackExchange. We hope you enjoy sharing knowledge and experience.
    – Stan
    Jun 14, 2019 at 23:57

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