Preparing & Translating Supported File Types

Adobe InDesign Files


Extension .idml
Smartling Identifier idml
Resources InDesign Markup Language Resources 

You can use Smartling to translate the content of Adobe InDesign documents. Smartling supports files in the Adobe InDesign Markup Language format (IDML). IDML is a lightweight XML-based format that is ideal for data exchange with tools like Smartling.

IDML is most often used as a native file format for PDF documents. Once the IDML has been translated, post-translation production in the form of desktop publishing (DTP) takes place to produce the translated PDF. DTP can take time and resources in your translation process so it is important to follow the steps outlined below for best results when translating Adobe InDesign Files.

Smartling does not support the Adobe InDesign native binary file format (.indd).

Preparing Adobe InDesign Files for Translation

Export to .idml

To translate Adobe InDesign files using Smartling, you or your designer must simply export the document to the IDML format (.idml).

Directives via API

IDML supports the includeOriginalStrings directive.  By default includeOriginalStrings is true. This means that when downloading the translated version of the file if a translation is authorized but not published or pre-published the source string will be present.

To exclude source content and incomplete translations from the translated file, you can set includeOriginalStrings to false.

Translating Adobe InDesign Files

Ensure to create a Files Project for file translation management.

Ensure track changes is switched off or all changes have been accepted/rejected.

Once you're ready to translate the file, create a Job. If any content is ingested that should not be translated, you can exclude it from translation, should you need to. To get an idea of what the layout and display of the translated file will be, you can download a pseudo translated file. From here, you can decide if any adjustments are necessary to the source content. 

You can also provide instructions to provide context. By attaching a JPG or PDF export of the InDesign document in the original language and providing instructions about the document, you can create an excellent reference for translators to help them understand the context. Remember that not all translators can open the IDML file so Smartling strongly recommends that you provide context via instructions.

Furthermore, applying character limits to strings can help ensure translations are kept to a certain length. 

Translators can generate dynamic Visual Context from within the CAT Tool by clicking Generate document with the latest [language] translations button once they save translations.

When translations are complete, download the published translations to your locale drive.

You or your design resource can open the file with all links intact and if necessary, save it in the native Adobe InDesign (.indd) format for production, if needed.

If you need to convert a batch of Adobe InDesign files from their native file format (.indd) to InDesign Markup Language format (IDML) there are applications that can assist with the process.

Smartling only translates the text of the IDML file. Other data, such as fonts are not changed. This means that if you are translating into a language with a non-latin character set, such as Chinese, you may need to set new fonts with the appropriate character set before you can read your translated files. Only standard InDesign fonts are compatible in Smartling.

Troubleshooting Translated Adobe InDesign Files

When viewing and deploying translated Adobe InDesign files, it is important to remember that most fonts do not contain the characters necessary to display content in every language.

When you upload a file to Smartling, only the text of the file is captured and translated. This means that, when you download your translated file, it’s font may not support all the new characters. These characters will be displayed as empty boxes, sometimes referred to as ‘tofu’.

If you open a translated file and it’s full of tofu, it doesn’t mean that the file is corrupted. It may just be that your current font can’t display the translation. To view these files, you need to have a font with the required characters.

Choosing an appropriate final font for your translated files is an important design decision, but if you just want to check your translations, a good place to start is with Google’s Noto collection of fonts. Noto fonts are available to support most languages and scripts.


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