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Is it possible to have multiple InDesign documents use the same base text and dynamically update?

New Here ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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I am creating an employee training manual and I want to create an instructor version as well that contains the exact same text as the employee version, but also has notes and commentary of things to cover, examples to use, etc. 

 

I'd like to use the same base text for both so that as we make updates to our processes, I can update it one time and have it make the changes in both manuals (I'm fine tweaking formatting in each one individually). I'm envisioning a Word doc that is the "Base" text. When I make changes and save, each of my two InDesign files would then show the updated text. 

 

Is this possible? 

 

Note: I'm the business owner with a long college minor that touched on InDesign products. I google and youtube how to do a lot of things, but would definitely still consider myself in the beginner realm of InDesign. I've tried finding the answer to this one on my own but have yet to find the correct search terms to yield what I'm looking for. Thanks in advance! 

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New Here ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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**long AGO college minor 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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You cannot do that well in InDesign itself. It's not designed for it.

 

The best solution is a third party plug-in from Em Software called WordsFlow. (I have not connection with this company, by the way,) Read about it here:

 

http://emsoftware.com/products/wordsflow/

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New Here ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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I will check that out, thanks Steve! 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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You can use conditional text or an InCopy workflow. Either one should work but I would use conditional text based on the information provided. 
These suggestions do not include Word. 


David Creamer: Community Expert, Adobe Certified Instructor, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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New Here ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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I'm not familiar with either one, but those give me the search terms I can use to educate myself on the options. Thanks David!

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Community Expert ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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I use for that purpose the InCopy workflow. 
I create via Edit > InCopy an InCopy file. 
I can place it in multiple places inside this and other files. 
To edit I need to check out via right mouse click > InCopy > check out. 
After editing I have to check in. 
In the link panel you see linked  InCopy stories and if they are updated or not. There you can update them. 

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New Here ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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Thanks Willi, 

 

I've never used InCopy, but it sounds like if I'm ultimately going to be putting text into InDesign from a word processor, I should be using InCopy for the source material rather than Word. I'm guessing that since it's an Adobe product, any character and paragraph styles I create/use in InCopy will flow seamlessly into InDesign. Sounds like this will make my life a lot easier 🙂  

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Community Expert ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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For my workflow you do not need to use InCopy as you can export and import InCopy strories from within InDesign. InDesign and InCopy are technically identical plugin manager. The difference is that different plugins are active and installed.

But it is true, it is good to make corrections in InCopy rather than in Word.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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Based on your original input, I would use conditional text if YOU (or another InDesign) are the one making all the edits. Conditional text can include words, sentences, paragraphs, inline graphics, and tables. An InCopy workflow would be overly complicated here.

 

However, if another person is doing the editing, than an InCopy workflow could be better suited. Last I looked, an InCopy subscription was $5 US per month. (You can test it yourself since you have InCopy as part of your CC subscription.)

 

David Creamer: Community Expert, Adobe Certified Instructor, and Adobe Certified Expert (since 1995)

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Engaged ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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Hi,

you could use the content collector tool, which can link textframes (and every other object) across documents:

https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/linked-content.html

 

When you change the content of a textframe in one document you can refresh the textframe in the other document(s) via the links panel.

You can even map styles from one doc to another.

You just have to keep the text you want to keep the same between documents in separate textframes

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New Here ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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Thanks Jens, 

 

This is another feature of InDesign that I was unaware of - I'll use the link you provided to further educate myself. I can see this being useful in multiple instances

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Community Expert ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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As mentioned - you have the option of conditional text. Would require turning on the conitional text when exporting the instructor level version - which is a very good option.

If you're planning on having different pages attached as the example you can use InDesign book - you just need to keep 2 book files.

 

In 1 book file you add all the employee 'chapters' as different files.

In the 2nd book file for instructors - you can add files 'chapters' between the employees.

 

So you only update 1 set of files (as they are used in both book files).

 

 

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New Here ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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Conditional text is not something I've used before, but based on the comments here, it is definitely something I will learn more about. Thank you, Eugene! 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 16, 2023 Jan 16, 2023

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It's also possible to place and link a Word file. This works the same way that placing images works; you place your Word file, then if you edit and resave your Word file, the Links panel shows you the little yellow triangle with exclamation point indicating that your link has been modified. (Also the little picture of a chain link on the frame itself will turn into the warning triangle.) So you could place the same source Word doc into both of your InDesign files, and then if you modified it you'd have to open both InDesign files and Update Link. And then yes, you'd probably have to do some formatting. That checkbox is in your Edit -> Preferences close to the bottom of the "File Handling" section.

 

I don't suggest you do this, though. It depends, I suppose, on how much you value your time. If you enjoy working on stuff in InDesign, and carefully fine-tuning your workflow, and you are acting as if your time is worth $0/hr, then any of these methods would work. But they all require you to spend time in InDesign fine-tuning that workflow. This is especially the case if you want your parent document/content store to be a Word doc. I'm looking at David's exclusion of Word documents from his suggestions, right now, and considering deleting this entire post. There's so much that can go wrong when you're trying to use Word in this way. 

 

That is in all honesty why I'd suggest you go with Steve's suggestion and use WordsFlow. The money you spend will save you time fighting with Word, or with InDesign's Word import filter. Also it says right on Em's support page that they can help you with "strategizing about the best way to solve a given problem with our tools" which sounds like the kind of guidance you'd need.

 

Like Steve, I have no connection with Em Software at all; I've just seen their products in action and often reccomend them. I actually suggest DocsFlow more often than WordsFlow, which uses Google Docs for content store instead of MS Word. 

 

(On the other hand, If you decide to spend $0 and go with one of the other suggestions in this thread, we're here to help you out.)

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New Here ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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I've been using place in the way you described, and you're right. It's problematic. I can map certain things over fairly easily with styles; but bullets, for example, never seem to import over correctly. I'm always going through the document and applying my InDesign bullet style over the top of the bulleted paragraph that came over from Word and then deleting Word's bullet. Very much a pain . . . but with large amounts of text I've opted to use a word processor (and not InDesign) to house it all before moving it over to InDesign to format it. 

 

I've known there has to be a better way, but haven't taken the time determine what that is - this thread is certainly helping with that. I will check out WordsFlow. 

 

Thanks Joel! 

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Guide ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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quote

When I make changes and save, each of my two InDesign files would then show the updated text. 

I suppose you alreaday learned that this still requires to open the INDDs at least once. Every change in a linked file, as the other repliers told, is recognized by Indesign, but it's though just semi-automatic.

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New Here ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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Yes, it appears I've picked the most manual of options. Haha. All of the responses here will help me find a better way. Thanks Doc!

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Community Expert ,
Jan 17, 2023 Jan 17, 2023

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It's not clear to me where the notes and commentary are to be added -- in the original word doc or the InDesign file?

If the latter, there's no reason to do anything more than use place the same Word file as a link in both versions (make two InDesign files) and when you edit the Word file update the link.

Linking Word files is an option in the File Handling section of the Preferences. Keep in mind, though, that when you do this any styling applied in InDesign will be lost on the update, so it's best to define styles in Word.

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