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Adobe InDesign (IDML)

Information about how Transifex handles the Adobe InDesign (.idml) file format.

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Written by Transifex
Updated over a week ago

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Adobe InDesign is a tool for creating flyers, brochures, magazines, books, and more. To translate an InDesign file, you must first export it from InDesign as an IDML (.idml) file so that other tools can read it. When you upload an IDML file to Transifex, Transifex will parse the <Content> blocks in the file's stories and make content from those blocks available for translation.

Prepping your InDesign file

To ensure your InDesign file will be parsed correctly by Transifex and that it'll be easy for translators to work with, there are a few best practices to keep in mind before you export your file.

Disable Track Changes

Leaving Track Changes enabled could cause extra content that shouldn't be translated to be uploaded to Transifex. For example, when Track Changes is on, a word deleted from a sentence will remain in the InDesign story even if it's not visible in the Layout view. In the example below, the string uploaded to Transifex will include the word "deleted" if Track Changes is left on.


If you have Track Changes on, be sure to accept or reject all changes in the document before disabling Track Changes. Once done, you can disable Track Changes by going to Type > Track Changes and clicking Disable Tracking in All Stories. This will ensure that only your finalized content is uploaded for translation.

Use standard paragraph formatting.

InDesign has built-in paragraph formatting options. We recommend using these whenever possible so your file is parsed consistently. For example, instead of manually inserting special bullet characters to create a bulleted list, use the built-in bulleted list function under the paragraph formatting options.

Exporting an InDesign file as an IDML

To export an InDesign file as an IDML:

  1. Open your file in InDesign.

  2. Hit File > Export.

  3. In the popup window, select InDesign Markup (IDML) as the format to export to. Then hit Save.

How common content is handled

Here's a look at how Transifex handles different content that might be in your file.

Text with in-line formatting

When a word or phrase in a string has different formatting than the rest of the string β€” for example, part of the text is bolded or has different kerning β€” InDesign separates the formatted text into its own <Content> block in the story. Because of this, a single sentence or paragraph in the Layout view could end up as multiple strings in Transifex.

For example, the sentence "Visit this URL to sign up." will produce three strings:

Visit this URL to sign up.

These three strings will appear next to each other in the Editor to make translation easier. When you download the translated IDML from Transifex, the three strings will be a single sentence inside the document.


Each item in a list is treated as a single string. List markers (bullets and numbers) will not appear in the Editor if you use InDesign's built-in list function.


Transifex treats each cell in a table as a standalone string.


Links will be preserved in the IDML you download from Transifex. However, anchor text for each link will be treated as a standalone string in the Editor, even if it's part of a larger string. Additionally, URLs will not be translatable within Transifex. If you wish to make a URL point to a different location for each localized version of your InDesign document, you'll have to change this within InDesign itself.

Special characters

There are several special characters that could be part of your InDesign file. These will only be exposed for translation if it is part of a string.

Standalone numbers

If a <Content> block only contains a number, e.g., a page number, it will not be exposed in Transifex for translation.

Converting an IDML back to INDD

When you download your translated InDesign file from Transifex, it'll be returned to you as an IDML. To convert it back to an INDD file:

  1. Open your IDML file in InDesign.

  2. Hit File > Save as.

  3. In the popup window, select InDesign CC Document as the format. Then hit Save.

From here, you'll need to re-link images and graphics.

Parser behavior

The following table outlines what occurs to untranslated, unreviewed, and un-proofread strings when using the API, CLI, or UI to manipulate translation files:


πŸ“ Note: Proofreading must be enabled for this logic to take effect. To learn how to enable proofreading, click here.


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