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Bilingual book design

Community Beginner ,
Nov 27, 2023 Nov 27, 2023

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Hello, I am fairly new to InDesin but trying to make a bilingual book. I wonder if there is a way to add A language text on the left-sided pages and B language text on the right-sided pages. Like importing all of the A language text to the left-sided pages and vice versa. Does what I am trying to do make sense? Thank you!!

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How to , Import and export

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Community Expert ,
Nov 27, 2023 Nov 27, 2023

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Yes, it's not too uncommon to have such a need and layout, if not for two languages, then for text with facing commentary.

 

The short answer is that you use two separate text flows, one on right-hand (recto) pages and one on left-hand (verso) pages.

 

The longer answer, for setup, is to create a new file (just to make sure you don't drag any existing/conflicting setup info into it)...

 

  • Create one facing page Parent spread. Do NOT set a Primary Text Frame:

 

JamesGiffordNitroPress_1-1701116986551.png

 

  • Open the Parent pages and on that spread, put a text frame on each page.
  • In document pages, create a second (verso) page.
    • ETA: You could also just set "2" pages in the menu above. Missed that.
  • With the Text tool selected, Ctrl-Shift-click on each of those pages. A Parent page frame will be added to each, but with separate text flows.
  • Place one content file on the first (recto) page, and Place the other content file on the second (verso) page.

 

That should flow out to fill all the needed pages, with one content flow on each page.

 

From there, you'll have to figure out the formatting to match up content, probably by using selective page breaks in one flow or the other.

 

Caveat: there's something fussy about this process that is not coming to mind, mostly with getting the text to auto-flow. If it doesn't work right for you, come on back. 🙂

 

 

 


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 28, 2023 Nov 28, 2023

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Thank you so much for the quick reply with explanations. Without trying it with InDesign, I can't tell if I understood your explanation. LOL. I will give it a try and re-post if I can't get it done. Thank you again and have a good day!

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Community Expert ,
Nov 27, 2023 Nov 27, 2023

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I would recommend building it as two separate ID files. This would have simplicity advantages and editing simplicity, too.

Mike Witherell

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Community Expert ,
Nov 27, 2023 Nov 27, 2023

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I don't follow — how would this address the facing-pages issue? As two separate text flows/articles/stories, with paired styles, all language and layout issues could be managed just as well as separate files. Or am I missing something? (I've done a few facing-pages books as one INDD doc.)

 

That said, in some experimentation, I have run into that autoflow issue with pages set up like this, and cannot remember the trick to get each flow to, well, flow. 😛


╟ Word & InDesign to Kindle & EPUB: a Guide to Pro Results (Amazon) ╢

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Community Expert ,
Nov 27, 2023 Nov 27, 2023

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One reason to use Mike's method is when you want the page numbering to be matched to only one of the languages; it's quite common to see posts about this where the poster has already laid out their bilingual book, and arrive in the forums only when they realize it's not easy to get verso-only sequential numbering. 

 

In general, though, I personally prefer your posted method of running two threaded stories throughout the document, using frame breaks to ensure that the two languages' content lines up correctly.  I've used both successfully,  though, as well as others that might offer advantages to very limited use cases. (E.g. all second-language content is in anchored text frames... that was great when the source language was changing all the time and the explanatory anchored frames were comparatively static and not subject to frequent changes.) 

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 28, 2023 Nov 28, 2023

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Thank you so much for your reply. Can I combine the two separate ID files later once I am done with the two?

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Community Expert ,
Nov 28, 2023 Nov 28, 2023

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It's possible to place one InDesign file into another; the placed INDD acts like a placed image or PDF, so it's not editable. The way I like to do this, personally, is to set up the first language in a separate INDD, then place it into an empty document, only on the verso pages. On the recto, I flow in the live text of the second language. This makes it easier to add frame breaks (or do other formatting as you see fit) in order to ensure that language 2 matches up with the placement of language 1. 

 

If you're not accustomed to working with images that are edited after being placed, it's worth reviewing the process of updating links. If you place language 1 as an INDD into a second empty document, then find a typo in language 1 as you're working on the second language, you'd need to make your edits, then update the links in the bilingual document. So:

  • Open the source INDD for language 1
  • Make your edits
  • Save and close your file
  • Go back to your bilingual document
  • Click the "Update link" button in the Links panel for the appropriate page
    (or alt-click the "Update Link" button to update all highlighted links throughout the document)

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 27, 2023 Nov 27, 2023

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Hi @unodos73 , Also, text has a Language property which handles hyphenation and spell checking. Language  is a character level property, so make sure your Paragraph and Character Styles have the correct Language applied. Here you can see how Dynamic Spelling and Hypenation responds to the text’s Language property:

 

Screen Shot 31.pngScreen Shot 32.png

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 28, 2023 Nov 28, 2023

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Thank you! I will keep that in mind when I actually work on it.

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