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Exporting InDesign files to Word while retaining style names

Explorer ,
Jan 08, 2024 Jan 08, 2024

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I have to create technical documents for my company. Originals come from Word, they're placed into InDesign 2024 and formatted for our branding. I Share for Review with editors through InDesign. Once approved, I export an interactive PDF (which gets posted in our online store for people to purchase).

 

Because our technical standards have to be reviewed and revised by multiple people who only have Microsoft Word, I have to provide an archival version of the document in Word.  So, I open the PDF in Acrobat Pro and export to Microsoft Word. While the formatting "look" comes through (including page breaks), none of the original style names are there. The next time the Word files come back to me, I can't just flow it in and have it automatically format because the styles are no longer there to match what's in InDesign, I then have to apply styles again, which is double work.

 

I can export RTF from InDesign then open the RTF in Word and the style names are there, but the layout isn't close and I have to spend a lot of time to get it close.

 

I can copy the text out of InDesign and paste it into Word, the text looks right, but the style names aren't applied to the text, so I have the same problem as I do going from PDF export to Word--I have to apply the styles again to retain the names.

 

Is there an easy answer for this (other than ID2Office, which is expensive)?

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Community Expert , Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

Again — I not only have general experience in this area but specfic experience with the sort of work organization you've outlined, so I understand the dynamics of the material, the authors, the budgeting and the general 'personalities' involved. The need for a relatively unskilled source — authors, SMEs, organization managers, etc. — to be able to write, submit, review and update material, while a more professional publication crew makes them look, well, professional is... common.

 

The only rea

...

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Community Expert ,
Jan 08, 2024 Jan 08, 2024

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Short answer? No. Going from ID to Word is turning sausage back into a pig. It can be done, there are workflows and tools, but in general it's a messy process with faults and indifferent results.

 

The only real solution is to make InDesign an end-process tool. Create final versions in Word and archive those for review, etc. Pass them through InDesign, with rules about making no changes (e.g. "just typeset them") for final publication/distribution only.

 

I suspect the path to any changes, given how most corporations think, will be somewhere between difficult and impossible. But the argument has to be that if they want (1) pretty stuff for publication; (2) accessible versions for internal review and editing and (3) accommodation for Word users at the expense of all other facets... it's going to be a variation of that old print-shop sign: "Pick two and call me back."

 

Or "whip out that checkbook, Chuck."


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Explorer ,
Jan 08, 2024 Jan 08, 2024

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It's complicated, but there has to be a Word document with the styles for future revisions that are sent to volunteers (we're a nonprofit, and those volunteers are scientists, researchers, and engineers who do not work for my company, but hundreds of others). It's part of the process established by that department. Only the PDF is released to the public and is not editable on purpose.

 

I've already tried to convince them to use the "share for review" and that is not an option. I know it will be a pain, but until they completely change the process on their end, that's what I have to work with.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 08, 2024 Jan 08, 2024

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I know. I've worked in many situations where the divide between using pro tools and making stuff accessible to the secretaries and admin assistants was a crippling hurdle. Worse, of course, when those who need the accessible material are pros in their own right (engineers, C-level, scientists, even volunteers).

 

I can only say the real solution is to revise your workflow, not look for a (lousy) (expensive) tech solution that, more than anything else, throws gas on the fire of incompatibility. Rework things so that a Word doc is the final version, with the ID result being "publication" like a printed book... you could go backwards from paper to an editable file, but you really don't want to. Stop thinking of the ID version as a final version that can be sent back through the editing loop.

 

Don't do revisions/development into the ID version. Just publish the material, and set it up to enable quick re-import and re-publication. In a world of tools that are only kinda-sorta compatible, and some are expensive and need pro skills to use... I really don't know of a good second solution.


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Community Expert ,
Jan 24, 2024 Jan 24, 2024

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>…turning sausage back into a pig.

 

I’m going to be using that expression a lot.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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There is this: WordsFlow » Em Software

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Explorer ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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I thought that was more Word to InDesign, not InDesign to Word. 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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You thought wrong. 🙂

The beauty of it is that's a two-way connection. Make updates in InDesign and Word file is also updated.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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quote

You thought wrong. 🙂

The beauty of it is that's a two-way connection. Make updates in InDesign and Word file is also updated.


By @BobLevine

 

Free is one-way - Pro is two-way.

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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That's not the workflow we use really. It might be years in between revisions, so the a new document is created from the old one. Only the PDF created from InDesign is published to the public. The Word document is for future committees to revise when committees need to revise, reaffirm, or kill a standard. The old documents must be left as is and new documents created. It's hard to explain. The main thing is that the style names need to match and it would be ideal if we didn't need to reapply those style names.

 

As a nonprofit, we have to get all expenditures approved well in advance, I'll review again, but I didn't see that what Workflow does meets out needs. 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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You're looking for a holy grail that does not exist. I do not envy you this task.

I wish you luck because you are truly going to need it.

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Explorer ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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I'm hoping that the product line takes the production through a different process where our graphic designers aren't involved in the layout, only the illustrations. I think they are looking at content management solutions that may allow them to do it, but the documents will have to have simiplified branding. Until then, I think we're just going to have to do the extra work.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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You mention volunteers - what exactly are they doing? 

 

Do they HAVE to use WORD? 

 

Your document could be exported to some CMS - then each piece could be edited individually... 

 

Text would be extremely easy to handle. 

 

The graphic part would be more complicated, but would be best if it would be just extracted, edited in the native application, then uploaded back. 

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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We are a professional association--think AIGA or the AMA--the staff (including Graphics department) are employed by the association and other staff only use Office products. Only the graphic designers use Adobe apps. The volunteers are SMEs who are scientists, engineers, researchers, etc. who volunteer their time to write the technical standards which various industries (and government orgs) use in regulations or SOPs. They are members of the association, but not employees of the association--they actually work for other companies like engineering firms, oil companies, paint manufacturers, contractors, etc. The only common denominator is Word. 

 

Their knowledge of Word is often very limited and rely on templates we provide them to write these standards. For new standards, it's not an issue, they have a template with dummy text and all styles appropriately applied. It's the standards that have been around for awhile and that are coming up for review/revision. We use our InDesign template and flow in the Word documents that have the correct styles already applied. Then we have some cleanup and we add images. We do editing with staff through Adobe's Share for Review (the volunteers aren't involved at this point) and once approved, we export a PDF that has all the graphics, styles, and branding. Security is applied to the PDF and the PDF is uploaded to our online store. The general public only ever sees the PDFs. We export a Word document from the PDF which retains the flow and look, but none of styles transfer. If anything gets deleted and replaced, they don't have the appropriate styles to apply, then the designers have to apply all the styles. We want to give them a document as close to the published document as possible but with the styles applied.

 

All standards must be reviewed at least every 5 years (sometimes sooner if regulations change). At that point, the volunteers take the previous document, make updates and resubmit to staff. Then the designers make a NEW InDesign document (by our bylaws and legal purposes, we have to keep all versions, so a new one is created when there's a change), and flows in the text. It won't be the same volunteers--they rotate out of their committees every 2-4 years--so it's new people. It might even be new designers.

 

Until our integrated CMS gets implemented, they have to use Word because it's the lowest common denominator and they already have it. The plan is, once the CMS is implemented, the standards will start and end there. But until then, we have to do the other way.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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@Michele S Jennings

 

Do you have some work on your CMS already started? What is the time line?

 

What do you mean by "make updates and resubmit to staf"? Text only or graphics as well? 

 

Exporting InDesign's document for CMS - is piece of cake. Using some WYSIWYG editor for text - also piece of cake. But I would insist on editing single paragraphs instead of few pages at a time.

And all that accompanied with JPEG preview updated on demand. 

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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Again — I not only have general experience in this area but specfic experience with the sort of work organization you've outlined, so I understand the dynamics of the material, the authors, the budgeting and the general 'personalities' involved. The need for a relatively unskilled source — authors, SMEs, organization managers, etc. — to be able to write, submit, review and update material, while a more professional publication crew makes them look, well, professional is... common.

 

The only real solution I know of is what I suggested: that the "final" file document be in Word, with what's produced in InDesign being passive publication. This won't change no matter what authoring, info management or CMS tool you might use; once the material goes into ID, it's as out of reach for the authors as book printing plates.

 

Construct a workflow where the content is live, then archived using a versioning system (which RARELY requires document control and versioning applications — the insistence of software teams to insist otherwise has driven me batty over the years — and ONLY when there is a final, publication version is it pulled into InDesign, in a one-way, one-time step.

 

In about forty years of doing much this general work and workflow, I've never found any software, converters, filing system, versioning system or magic wand that lets publications be seamless from a blank Word file to anything like a printed professional layout. The tools change, and get more sophisticated, and we get nine kinds of file sharing and storage a year, but that fundamental divide between "mass authoring" and "professional publication" remains. As Bob L. says, it's a Holy Grail and unless you've got Indiana Jones on your team, you aren't likely to find it. 🙂


┋┊ InDesign to Kindle (& EPUB): A Professional Guide, v3.0 ┊ (Amazon) ┊┋

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Explorer ,
Mar 01, 2024 Mar 01, 2024

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That's what I thought. Within a couple of years, the company will be switching to a CMS and using Xpublisher so I'll be ok til then. 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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Something like that?

 

t1.png

 

But it's a raw, an early attempt... needs polishing.

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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Not quite. I'll look for an example.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 10, 2024 Jan 10, 2024

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Going from PDF to Word is not going to retain style names. A PDF doesnt contain styles nonetheless any real property information from the original InDesign file. InDesign to Word is not an easy thing as both software pieces are just quite differnt. So, the solution you found is expensive and looking for a free and easy way out? You need to figure out whether the time you save by using the tool that works is worth the cost-savings for you. I defintely would choose any automation route that solves the problem then try to look for a solution that simply doesnt exist.

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New Here ,
Jan 23, 2024 Jan 23, 2024

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TextExporter by Rorohiko Workflow Solutions

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Community Expert ,
Jan 24, 2024 Jan 24, 2024

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TextExporter by Rorohiko Workflow Solutions


By @judic30424075

 

But OP also needs layout - not just names of the styles. 

 

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