Adobe InDesign

Translate with Across


Adobe InDesign is a professional desktop publishing (DTP) application. The DTP process comprises the integration of texts and other elements (e.g. images and tables) in a layout ready for printing. The software is used for preparing conventional print media, e.g. flyers, brochures, posters, magazines, and catalogs. Additionally, DTP software is now also frequently used for digital publications such as PDF files and e-books. In the field of DTP, InDesign is considered the market leader. Therefore, InDesign documents also play a key role in the field of translation.

InDesign Formats: INDD and IDML

The standard format of Adobe InDesign is INDD (INDesign Document). Usually, InDesign documents are prepared and processed in this format.

In contrast, IDML is the exchange format of InDesign. The acronym IDML stands for InDesign Markup Language. IDML was introduced as of InDesign CS4, replacing the previous exchange format INX. Among other things, IDML is used as an exchange format in order to open InDesign documents in older InDesign versions or in other DTP programs such as QuarkXPress. It can also be used to repair damaged InDesign documents. Last but not least, IDML is used for the translation of InDesign documents.

Technically, IDML is an XML-based format. This means that IDML is an application of XML and is based on the rules of XML. IDML is an open format, while INDD is a proprietary (and binary) format.

Creating IDML Files

To convert a conventional InDesign document in the INDD format into the IDML exchange format, simply export the INDD file to the IDML format using the menu item File Export. Select "InDesign Markup (IDML)" as the file type and save the file under a file name of your choice. The resulting IDML file can now be checked in and translated with the Across Translator Edition.

First Steps

Before setting up a project, check what specific content the IDML document has.

InDesign does not need to be installed on the local computer in order to translate InDesign documents in the IDML format in the Across Translator Edition. However, InDesign must be installed in order to open InDesign files, e.g. to convert an INDD document into an IDML document, to generate a preview during the translation, or for the final review of the translated InDesign file.

If no InDesign installation is on hand, it is therefore important to discuss this with the customer before starting with the translation, as this would mean that the customer's cooperation will be required for the successful completion of the translation project.

Tip: For a one-time translation project involving InDesign documents, a trial version of InDesign can be installed.

Besides regular text, InDesign documents often also contain images and tables. Moreover, the files may also contain more specific elements such as layers, master pages, stories, cross-references, text variables, and links. The following aspects need to be taken into consideration when setting up a project:

InDesign Documents with Several Layers

InDesign documents often consist of two or more layers. Prior to the translation, ask the customer whether the InDesign document to be translated contains any layers with text not to be translated. By default, the content of all layers is displayed in the Across Translator Edition, even if they are locked or hidden in InDesign.

Tip: Using document settings templates, layers not to be translated can be hidden in the Across Translator Edition. This can easily be done as follows: Go to Tools System SettingsDocument SettingsIDML and click "New" to create a template.

Then click "Add" to define the layer to be hidden. Under "Type", select "Layer". Under "Mode", select "Hide". As the "Value", enter the name of the layer.

Important: The name of the layer must fully correspond to the name of the layer in the InDesign document.

Multilingual InDesign Documents

InDesign documents can be multilingual. In this case, each language may occupy a separate layer. Prior to the translation, ask the customer whether the InDesign document exists in several languages and which layer(s) is/are to be translated.


InDesign may contain cross-references to other parts of the document. The various types of cross-references are defined by means of cross-reference formats.

If the cross-reference formats used in the InDesign document contain text to be translated, the cross-reference formats need to be translated. For this, the option "Enable cross-reference translation" must be activated in the document settings of IDML under Advanced

InDesign Documents with Tracked Changes

InDesign documents that contain tracked changes are handled as follows during the check-in to the Across Translator Edition: Text marked as "added" is integrated in the document as normal text, while text marked as "deleted" is removed from the document.

Translating IDML Files with the Across Translator Edition

Actually, there are only very few InDesign-specific issues that need to be taken into consideration when translating IDML documents.

Important: To generate a preview of IDML files, InDesign must be installed on the local computer (see also "First Steps").

Some of the InDesign-specific issues to be taken into consideration in the translation context:

Order of Segments

The order of the elements to be translated in an IDML document depends on the text flow of the IDML document. The elements within a page or within a column are processed from left to right and from top to bottom.

Translating Cross-References

The translation of cross-references comprises the translation of the underlying cross-reference formats and the translation of the actual cross-references. The cross-reference formats determine the basic "look" of the cross-references.

In the translation editor crossDesk, cross-reference formats are grouped and can therefore be translated together. They usually consist of text that needs to be translated and placeholders.

In crossDesk, the placeholders are displayed in the form of gray fields that merely need to be double-clicked in order to be transferred to the translation. The actual cross-references are also displayed in the form of placeables. These too simply need to be transferred to translation at the respective positions in the document.

Translating Indices

InDesign documents can contain an index, i.e. a keyword or name register. The translation of such an index comprises the translation of the actual index entries as well as the transfer of the respective index marks to the translation.

In the translation editor crossDesk, indices are grouped and can therefore be translated together. In the segments of the IDML document, the index marks are displayed in the form of placeables that merely need to be transferred to the translation.

Tips and Tricks

Final Check and Revision of the Translation in InDesign

Upon completion of the translation and check-out of the translation from the Across Translator Edition, the translated IDML document should be opened in InDesign for a final review and any manual adjustments.

If InDesign is not available, this task may need to be handled by the customer (see also "First Steps"). Especially the following points should be checked and revised if necessary:

Correct Overset Text

Overset text comes about if a text is too long or too large for a text frame and the text is therefore not displayed in its entirety. By means of a red plus icon at the bottom right corner of the respective text frame, InDesign shows that overset text is on hand.

Tip: To see any overset text in the document, simply zoom out from the InDesign document; the red plus icons for overset text will remain the same size and are therefore easy to find. Or: Conduct a preflight check of the document (see below). Overset text can be corrected by upsizing the respective text frame or by shortening or downsizing the text.

Tip: The function "Edit in Story Editor" (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+Y) shows which part of the text is overset text and is therefore not displayed in the InDesign document.

Updating Cross-References

If the translated IDML document contains cross-references, they must be updated in InDesign (via the menu item Type Hyperlinks & Cross-ReferencesUpdate Cross-Reference).

Updating Indices

If the translated IDML document contains an index, it must be generated anew in InDesign in order to update the index entries. Go to the index panel (via the menu item Window Type & TablesIndex) and click the "Generate Index" icon.

Preflighting the Translation in InDesign

InDesign's integrated "Preflight" function serves the quality check of InDesign documents. The check will find errors such as missing links, missing fonts, and overset texts. The preflight check can be started with the menu item Window Output Preflight.

Converting an IDML File into INDD

After checking out a translated IDML document, the IDML document needs to be converted back into the INDD format. To do so, open the IDML document in InDesign, click File Save, and save it in the INDD format.