InDesign Translation in a few easy steps!

Want to have your InDesign files translated? The Adobe software is great for simplifying (and enhancing) document layout, both for print and digital files. However, its translation process requires additional steps than say, a Word document, since few translators have access to the program.

In order to save time and monetary resources, translation therefore usually involves exporting the content into a format that retains both text blocks as well as original formatting. Here is a step-by-step guide to translate InDesign files.

Step 1. Understanding File Formats

By default, InDesign files will be saved in the INDD format, which is proprietary to Adobe.

IDML, on the other hand, is an open sourced format that exposes the content of the InDesign file in plain text within code. In order to perform the translation, providers will require an IDML file, which they can then import into their own translation tools (such as Trados).

The IDML format results in much smaller files than the INDD format, in part because no images or graphics are included. This smaller size additionally makes IDML files easier to share. As a slight drawback, IDML can cause minor formatting issues when reimporting into InDesign, such as text reflow. This, however can be fixed during the last step, adjustment.

Step 2. Optimizing Documents for Translation

One important step to ensure the translation process goes smoothly happens during the initial document design, when drafting the original document for the source language. The reason is pretty straightforward: ideally the design needs to take text expansion into consideration, whether in titles, text, lists, and so on.

Other best practices when working on the source file all point to using the built-in tools and attempting to create code that is as “clean” as possible. Among these: using the Numbered Lists options so list item numbers remain correct across languages, using built-in tables, creating layers, separating paragraphs with different formatting, using style sheets, linking and anchoring text frames when they need to stay together…

A document that is already optimized can save a lot of work later on in the process!

Steps 3. Assessing the Need to Translate Images

Sometimes, images or other graphics will contain text that requires translation. Such files will need to be taken into consideration and included within the scope of the translation project.

Ideally, text content from images would not be embedded and thus could be found directly within an InDesign layer, reinforcing the need to use layers in the source document for maximum ease of use across all languages.

In some documents, however, the text is embedded in images such as in Adobe Illustrator. If this is the case, editable images will need to be supplied to the translation provider.

Step 4. Deciding on Who Will Perform Final Layout Adjustments

Because of minor formatting issues (or any possible other issue, such as text expansion) as stated above, it is important for a resource, whether the translator or an internal desktop publisher, to perform a final check and adjustment of the translated InDesign file, once reimported and generated. However, even if the final adjustment will be performed internally, the translator should at least see the translated InDesign file and provide guidance for adjustments.

If a PDF file needs to be created, make sure that provide all the necessary details to the translation provider, such as: specific layout guidelines or settings including program versions, platforms, Mac or PC, etc. While InDesign is compatible with both, fonts could appear differently on each.

Step 5. Preparing an InDesign Package

The translation provider will expect to receive different files, depending on the task at hand.

If the layout adjustments are to be done internally, the translator will only need the smaller IDML file as well as any relevant images, if any.

If, however, the translation provider should perform the full final layout adjustments, you will need to send a complete package, including the fonts, links, as well as the larger INDD file.

Step 6. Ensuring that the Final Changes are Included

And last but not least, make sure that if your deal with an external translation provider, you send them all and any changes applied to the InDesign document.

In many cases, the translation provider will even offer an online tool for direct proofreading. Keeping everyone in the loop as a document continues to evolve ensures that the same corrections will not be required twice.