I am a relative newcomer to InDesign, so please bear with me.
I am making an annual report for my new job. I found a suitable template via Adobe stock and puchased it. However, I didn't realise that the template was actually an .AI file instead of .INDD. I've searched high and low and can't work out a way to make this work in InDesign.
So, my questions are:
Is it possible to use the template in InDesign?
Is it worth cutting my losses on this one and just choosing another that is an InDesign template?
If you are stuck with the Illustrator template, even though InDesign cannot open it directly as a native template file, it can import .AI files, so there are ways you could try to make it work manually. First set up an InDesign page of the same size as one of the Illustrator templates. Then try either of these:
In an Illustrator template, make sure all layers and objects are unlocked, then choose Edit > Select All and copy and paste them onto a page in an InDesign document. The pasted objects probably won’t function properly as a template right away, and some object formats won’t translate perfectly. But you should be able to edit the pasted objects, so manually adapt them into proper master page items in InDesign.
In Illustrator, re-save an Illustrator template (.AIT) as an Illustrator document (.AI). Then from an InDesign page, choose File > Place and import that Illustrator document, and align it on the InDesign page. You won’t be able to edit an Illustrator file that you place, but you can keep it on a layer that is set to be non-printing (disable the Print Layer option for it), and use it as a visual guide to manually building your own InDesign master pages based on that design.
There’s no way to use the template in InDesign as you intend. You can, however, use it as a reference. Open it in Illustrator and place it in InDesign. Use Show Import Options to crop it to media so you can preverse exact positions and margins. Give it a low opacity (like 40%) and place it on a locked layer above other layers. Now you can use it as a teplate to recreate the layout in InDesign.
Back in Illustrator you can examine the file to get colours, stroke weights, and text formatting. You can copy shapes from Illustrator to InDesign if htere are features you want, or you can save individual components to Illustrator files and place those.
This process is time consuming but you will end up with a file you built, so you will have a great deal of familiarity with it. It’s also good experience.