Translating Files

Translating Adobe InDesign Files

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.

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

To translate Adobe InDesign files using Smartling, you or your designer must simply export the document to the IDML format, upload the files to Smartling, then download the translated files. You can then save the translated file back to the Adobe InDesign native file format (.indd) if needed.

You can also provide document 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 context. Remember that not all translators can open the IDML file so Smartling strongly recommends that you provide context via instructions.

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.

Adobe InDesign Format Translation Workflow

  1. In Adobe InDesign, export the file to InDesign Markup format (IDML).
  2. Upload the IDML file to Smartling. You can also provide document instructions to provide context.
  3. Translators and reviewers translate according to your Smartling workflow. For IDML and some other document file formats they can download a working copy of the translations from the Smartling dashboard. They will get the current translations for the file in its uploaded format (IDML) - similar to how Account Owners and Project Managers can download “pending” translations from Smartling Dashboard Files tab. Translators may receive a warning from InDesign when opening the IDML file if it contains links to graphics or fonts they do not have installed on their local machine.

    Translators should not attempt to change the layout of or the translations in the work-in-progress IDML file as these changes are made locally and are not part of the translation work stored with Smartling. Make translations using the Smartling CAT tool.

  4. Download the translated IDML file. 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. You can also request retranslation of certain segments using the Smartling dashboard.

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.


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