Best work process for reviewing InDesign documents?
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:54
Member (2005)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jun 27, 2016

I have an Adobe InDesign document that needs to be reviewed (proofread and possibly edited and modified) by a person who doesn't use InDesign.

I wonder would be a suitable way to handle that process or if you have any suggestions.

I've noticed that InDesign has a function that allows exporting to PDF. So one way to handle this process would be to send an exported PDF to the reviewer, who would then indicate the suggested modifications in that PDF. The DTP person would then look through the returned PDF and insert all modifications manually in the InDesign file. Is this really the best possible process? Or is there a way to get a more automated process that would enable importing all changes automatically into the InDesign file?

I also notice that InDesign appears to have a function for exporting to XLM as well as a function for importing XLM. However, when I attempt to export to XLM, the exported XLM is basically empty (the textual content of the InDesign is not included in the XLM).

I think an ideal solution would be to have the textual content in an Excel document (or a similar format) and be able to export and import back and forth between InDesign and such an Excel document, but InDesign doesn't seem to have such functionality. Or does it perhaps somehow?

I'm using InDesign CC 2015.



José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Lessons from PageMaker Jun 27, 2016

I am a power user of Page Maker, InDesign's late father. Been using for 25+ years, saw no reason to move on yet, as I can still do whatever is required from a translator using the old PM 6.52. I usually translate DTP-ed files directly on PDF, using Infix, so I can cover the final output from ANY DTP (and non-DTP, like Word).

If your reviewer could - and were expected to - fix layout changes on InDesign files, s/he'd probably have it. As it is, the SAFEST way to implement his/her changes to your output is for you to do it from sticky notes s/he will put on a PDF file you provide.

Looks troublesome? Maybe, however it will require less work from you than checking every text block for possibly hidden parts eventually generated by the reviewer not being so skilled in editing InDesign files.

My 2¢.


Omer Shani
Local time: 17:54
Member (2012)
Reviewing InDesign files Jun 28, 2016

Good morning Thomas

I'm writing to you, not as an InDesign user, which I'm not, but rather as an LSP manager, who required to handle DTP-after translation processes.

I believe you can solve your challenge by the 2 following options.

1) If you're using a TM tool, you can import an IDML file and export it as a bi-lingual RTF. file. I know memoQ can do that, for sure.
2) Export your InDesign as PDF, and your reviewer can annotate and highlight the issues which are required for fix.

This is my 2¢icon_smile.gif

Omer Shani


Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:54
German to English
comments in PDF Jun 28, 2016

I translate a lot of articles and books and the standard procedure is to use PDF comments to note corrections during the proofreading phase. I can actually only think of one case where I have ever proofread on paper (because it was for a "megazine" whose spreads were over a meter wide and could not be dealt with on a standard monitor), but I've only been working as a translator since 2009.

Make sure that your proofreader and graphic designer are speaking the same language in terms of symbols and assumptions, and everyone should make an effort to waste a little time being extra clear instead of wasting a lot of time through misunderstandings and a need for a second round of checking.

Do not do any significant editing using comments in a PDF. Every now and then, one of my projects comes dangerously close to that (it's a sliding scale), but that will uselessly eat up time and money, while leading to a senseless loss of quality.

If you need genuine editing, then send your editor of choice the original editable files to be corrected with tracked changes. Send those to the graphic designer and then have those PDFs proofread. Or, find another editor with experience working directly in InDesign. Or, if you're not already bound to the project or client, simply explain that it doesn't make sense for you to get involved in the middle of this project and don't make an offer.


Georgi Kovachev  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:54
Member (2010)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
My proposal Jun 29, 2016

Hi Thomas,

I would propose an entire process. You, and your reviewer, could do the following (when the reviewer does not use InDesign):

1. Export the InDesign document to PDF.
2. Upload the PDF file in TransPDF ( and generate an XLIFF file therefrom.
3. Download the XLIFF file to your computer.
4. Translate it via your CAT tool.
5. Send the XLIFF file for review – I hope the reviewer also uses a CAT tool.
6. After the file has been reviewed, update your TM by: uploading the reviewed file to your CAT, saving your TM and deleting the repetitive segments.
5. If you cannot upload the XLIFF file to InDesign, then upload the translated XLIFF file in TransPDF and generate a target-language PDF file.

I have tried TransPDF on a very heavily formatted PDF file, generated from InDesign, and could say that the result was pretty good. However, you could need your DTP person to tackle formatting problems, e.g. part of your text going out of table borders.

Hope this helps.


[Edited at 2016-06-29 13:38 GMT]


Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:54
Member (2005)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Thanks! Jun 29, 2016

Thank you very much, everyone, for your time and comments.

Considering everything, I think we'll use the following work process in our case:

First we'll edit the content, via a PDF document:

- Export from InDesign to PDF
- Editing the content, using sticky notes in the PDF
- DTP person implements modifications manually in the InDesign document

Then, to ensure quality, we'll probably repeat the process in a separate proofreading stage.

My initial idea of using an automatized process to import all changes directly into the InDesign document was probably a bad idea - working via PDFs and sticky notes will give better control to ensure no errors are included in the InDesign document.



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