Capturing Visual Context

Adobe InDesign Context

This article is for Account Owners, Project Managers, and Translators.

The tight formatting of Adobe InDesign files makes context especially important for successful translation. Smartling can show InDesign context in the CAT Tool.

Using this feature gives translators an idea of what the final output could look like.

Context is not dynamic, unlike with HTML context, meaning the translations are not updated in the context panel in real-time. However, context can be generated when translations are inserted and saved.

  1. In the CAT Tool, within the Context tab, click Generate document with latest [language] translations.
  2. Switch between the source and target language by clicking the language name.
  3. To update with new translations, save the new translations and click Generate document with latest [language] translations again.


Adobe InDesign visual context is a hybrid, meaning it's neither static nor dynamic. Translations do not populate in real time, but a snapshot of translations can display with user generation. However, in any case, visual context never perfect, so it should never be regarded as the source of truth for a linguist's translation. The previews will not guarantee how the final output will look once the IDML is reimported into Adobe as a IDD file. As a result, the translated file will typically need DTP after translation. This is handled by designers after the translated files are downloaded by the content owners.

If the preview doesn’t look good in the context panel, it could, in fact, be an indication that without DTP it won’t look good in the final document. It is recommended that the IDD file has minimal formatting, as strict document formatting could be “clipping” the translation.

Context owners should be flexible in changing the format from the original file to suit the translated file. Applying character limits to strings could also help guide the linguists on any strict sizing restrictions. 



Was this article helpful?