Desktop Publishing Educational

How to Use InDesign Files for Translations

If you’ve handled projects that dealt with graphics and translations, you might have already heard about using InDesign files for translations.

But if you haven’t yet, then take this to be your intro into learning how you can get your graphic materials rendered in InDesign to ensure a smooth translation process.

In this article, we’re discussing how to use InDesign files for translation requests.

First, let’s learn about one platform which can magically create almost any type of graphic material – Adobe InDesign. 

Sign up to download the guide on “How to Use InDesign files for Translation Requests.”

What is Adobe InDesign?

Adobe InDesign is the leading publishing software that allows you to create layout and page designs for every imaginable graphic format, whether it’s print or digital media.

The file extension typically used in Adobe InDesign software is the INDD. It includes a set of elements such as the page formatting info, page content, linked files (images), fonts, styles, and swatches. The . INDD allows the user to manage elements such as the texts and the images without disordering the overall page layout.

Whether it’s for promotional, branding, or internal corporate purposes, Adobe InDesign is capable of executing an extensive list of business-related materials which can be any of the following:

Adpbe InDesign Logo


  • business cards
  • flyers
  • brochures
  • letterheads
  • postcards
  • envelopes
  • posters
  • gift certificates
  • labels
  • large format banners
  • billboard


  • websites
  • web ad banners
  • web graphic art
  • infographics
  • blog post covers
  • social media covers
  • social media ads
  • wallpapers
  • photo collages
  • presentations
  • newsletters
  • landing pages


  • ebooks 
  • whitepapers
  • PDF guides 
  • worksheets
  • printables (digital stickers, cutouts)
  • charts / tables / mind maps
  • slideshows
  • calendars
  • planner templates


  • forms
  • invoices
  • catalogs
  • sales sheets
  • invoices
  • contracts
  • resume / curriculum vitae
  • quote templates
  • price lists
  • terms statements
  • questionnaires
  • certificates


  • magazines
  • booklets
  • book covers


  • wrapping
  • boxes
  • cans
  • cartons

The capability of Adobe InDesign in producing page layouts and designs in a tremendous variety of models makes it one of the most powerful and commonly used software in the publishing industry.

It has become an industry-standard format, which continues its scope to the field of translation.

Presenting graphically produced materials in another language requires professional translations to convey an accurate message, both in the text and graphic representation of the content.

However, some predicaments inevitably do occur. The good news is vast experience in encountering translation and desktop publishing projects have taught language service providers like DEMA Solutions 4LSCs to come up with the best solutions.

In order for our team of translators and desktop publishing specialists to achieve a high-quality final output, we need collaboration from the client’s end: that is by sending the correct source files.

The process of translating InDesign files starts with submitting the required .INDD file, or for best results, the source InDesign package containing the .INDD file, the links (for images), and the fonts. 

So how do you use InDesign files for translation requests?

We included the steps to get your InDesign files ready so you can use them for translations.

1.) Prepare the page layout and design

The main goal of the first step is getting the layout ready to be applied with adjustments once layered with texts in the target language. 

If you have graphic designing skills, you can perform and achieve the following in Adobe InDesign alone. But if you don’t, then you can leave it to a graphic design expert.

The following are the suggested tips to get your layout prepared for translation:

  • Translating content includes the changing of spaces between words resulting in modifying the overall spacing of the content. For example, translating English content to languages like German, Spanish, or French expands the whole content by 30%. Meanwhile, translating into Chinese, it becomes less due to that language being logographic. Therefore, you may consider creating a layout that allows space necessary for your chosen target language/s. Also, you can simply leave extra space at the end of each text frame. (Note: ensure that the text frames in question are together if your layout has texts extending from one page to the other.)
  •  Maintaining the same styles throughout the layout will help keep consistency.
  • Mirroring or reversing your whole layout will help make your document similar to the original in instances when you’re translating to RTL language/s like Arabic. For more detailed information, please see this article by Adobe. Also, feel free to ask for assistance from our DTP experts on this matter.
  • Constructing tables using tab characters causes errors especially on the translator’s part. Make sure you create your tables using InDesign’s table tools which you’ll find in the menu bar under the Tables option.

2.) Package your InDesign files

Our DTP specialists need the packaged files to correctly perform layout. 

So, to avoid unwanted and massive changes, make sure to package your project which automatically includes the fonts, linked graphics, and document settings. 

If you’re not sure how, you can check out this easy step-by-step guide with an additional video tutorial by Adobe on how to package your InDesign projects

3.) Save as .IDML for translating texts

The .IDML serves to provide the CAT tool with the content. Once the translation is complete, the translated .IDML file is generated from the CAT tool and re-imported back to .INDD. Then, the DTP process can commence.

What is .IDML?

.IDML stands for InDesign Markup Language. It’s an XML representation format of the content in the InDesign file, which means it’s based on the rules of XML. It was introduced as of InDesign CS4 and replaced the previous InDesign format INX. IDML is used to facilitate the translation of InDesign files to other languages.

To save file in .IDML format:

  1. Go to the menu bar.
  2. Select File.
  3. Click on Export.
  4. Choose file IDML in the file type options.


Make sure to save your .IDML in the same folder with the InDesign project package to ensure sending all the source files together. 

Another supplementary support that will help to ensure the accuracy of the final output is by providing us a reference with complete information about layout requirements from the start. 

Normally, it’s given by a PDF form that also includes the following:

  •  Check with the client what, if any, fonts can be substituted by language (for instances where the source font used is not supported by the target language).
  •  Check all images with translatable text are editable. If they are not, the text needs to be extracted for translation or made editable directly in the .INDD file so that it will get included in the .IDML.
  •  The layout of target languages will need to mirror the Source language file at the DTP level. Languages like German and Italian are far more verbose and we will need instructions to understand if the text can flow or if Page-to-Page (1:1) layout is required.

The more detailed information is provided, the more it’s ensured that the selected resource/s has the right skills and understanding to carry out the task as required.

We hope that this article will help you understand using InDesign files for translation requests.  
If you need more details about this topic, send us an email and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible

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Sailing Down the Depths of Te Rehutai

A legendary story was once being told about two islands that were found. These islands together are now known as New Zealand (Aotearoa). The story says that New Zealand was fished from the sea by the fearless demigod, Māui. 

Māui, a bold and clever demigod according to Maori and Polynesian mythology, was born after a miraculous birth and upbringing won the affection of his supernatural parents.

The North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) legend says that one night, Māui’s four brothers thought to go fishing and leave him behind. He overheard their plans and not liking the idea, he went under the floorboards of his brother’s canoe, covered himself, and waited until they reached a distance away from the shore, then he revealed himself. Māui scraped a charmed fishhook from an ancestors’ jawbone and threw it down deep into the sea, chanting powerful words. The magic worked. He realized that he had caught something, but not like a fish with a normal size. With the help of his brothers, the catch was hurled to the surface of the water. Instead of a fish, they had caught an enormous piece of land, finding out that they had discovered Māui’s fish (Te Ika a Māui) known today as the North Island.

Māui’s brothers began to carve out pieces of the fish which turned out to natural resources like mountains and lakes which you can see on the North Island now. 

Meanwhile, the South Island (Te Waka a Māui) is told to be Māui’s and his brothers’ canoe (waka) that they fished from. They believe that Kaikōura Peninsula on the South Island’s east coast is where the canoe arrived and where Māui stood to draw in the discovered catch.

Who told the legends of New Zealand (Aotearoa)?

The legendary tale of Maui tells a lot about how New Zealand looks like now. Let’s first start by imagining its picture. New Zealand is a country that instantly gives us an image of green-emerald fields, under-the-hill houses of the hobbits, limitless fresh cow’s milk, a breathtaking home for international match races, and a dominant English-speaking nation.

However, little did we know that this unique place has a long-running history with indigenous groups, who survived a great journey to keep a well-preserved and breathing culture, traditions, mythology, and language.

We’re talking about the indigenous people, who shielded and passed the culture and legends we now learned about mainland New Zealand, the Māori. 

Māori originally came from Eastern Polynesia conquering voyages through the pacific waves using their watercraft known as Waka roughly between 1320 and 1350. Upon settling, the indigenous group rose their own beliefs, customs, arts and crafts, and language. 

Being in total isolation from invaders and foreigners for centuries, they were able to grow and establish a civilization along with its unbreakable cultural heritage and trademark.

The Language Māori

Māori people formed their language labeling with the same name, Māori, also known as Te Reo Māori which means “the language”. It was recognized as an official language of New Zealand declared in 1987. Māori is further being spoken actively by 474,000 speakers based on statistics by NZ. stats in 2018. Considering it was three years ago, we strongly believe that the digits have heightened up. 

Since now more than ever, with media types expanding in various sorts, the language is benefiting from that by directly unfolding more awareness about the Māori language and in return, gaining an effortless exposure.

Here is a graph by Waikato Regional Council showing how the Māori-speaking population is varying over the years.

In every living language, there’s always an influence by the other languages their speakers hear. In Māori’s case, English was its primary influencer. It was the major source of borrowed words that were adjusted to be in harmony with Māori usage. They adapted and evolved to become adjacent to its setting, making this language so resilient.

On the contrary, the English language in New Zealand was also evolving and borrowing words from Māori or Polynesian languages. Some of these words are taboo (tapu), kit (kete), Kiwi (a New Zealander), and even the word Mana commonly used in video games was derived from Māori which means life force or life essence. 

This modern era gave an overwhelming voice for the language of Māori. Within a century, events that highlight the language and its exposure ascended. Māori even acquired the spot in Guinness World of Records for the longest place name in the world:

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu”  It’s a 305-meter hill near Porangahau, south of Waipukurau in southern Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. 

Photo credits to:

Another happening that gives Māori a chance to be encountered is during America’s Cup by Prada in Auckland that is happening this month of March.

“Auckland is a place of mana (life essence), with a living, breathing Māori culture that reflects the deep connection of our tangata whenua (indigenous peoples) to the land. We hope you leave with a lasting impression of the warmth of our welcome and depth of our manaakitanga (embrace).” – America’s Cup by Prada 

This year is going to be a magnificent match as the Team New Zealand has overcome Luna Rossa scoring 5-3 in the first-to-seven series of America’s Cup, as of March 15. 

“Te Rehutai”

Team New Zealand’s boat has undergone a massive change last year with it shifting to a new focus particularly on aerodynamics.

Changing their boat means giving a new name. Thus, Team New Zealand decided to name her “Te Rehutai”, which means the “spirit of the ocean”. But there’s a deeper side within its literal meaning.

Taiaha Hawke from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, an Auckland-based native of subtribe (Māori hapū) in New Zealand, gave a further explanation of the name’s meaning which is: “where the essence of the ocean invigorates and energizes our strength and determination”.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei gave the blessing to Emirates Team New Zealand boat with the name “Te Rehutai” christened by Lady Margaret Tindall.

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“Te Rehutai” – Emirates Team New Zealand’s New Boat

“We looked at following the lineage of the dolphin and the hawk, but we wanted something that took us back a little further to the Waitemata and A-class boats that used to sail on it… just a bit more meaning for Auckland and New Zealand,” Team NZ boss Grant Dalton says to Newshub.

There’s an inseparable connection between the Māori and aquatic life; intrinsic poetic magic of the language found its greatest foundations with stories about the waters along with them, always sung or chanted. 

One of these poems is “Te Riwaru” by James Cowan. Te Riwaru is a famous canoe built by Rata, well-known in mythology whose ventures are the subject of traditions all over Polynesia. 

My great canoe,
How speeds to shore my long canoe,
Light as the fleecy cloud above
That bears to Tauranga my love.
My carved canoe
Te Riwaru.
O dear canoe!
That featly o’er the waters flew
From Arorangi, Island home
Far in old Kiwa’s ocean foam;
The paddles in the toiling hands—
How plunge they at Hautu’s commands!
My own canoe
My Riwaru.
Oh urge along
My brave canoe,
O viewless powers of earth and air,
O Uru, list, O Ngangana!
Drive on with lightning stroke and free,
O’erwhelm with storm our enemy;
Oh swiftly paddle, swift and true,
Our proud canoe
Te Ri-wa-ru!


Another event that stands out – the Māori Language Week (Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori). Since 1975, New Zealand celebrates a dedicated time to acknowledge and celebrate this enchanting language which usually runs during September. It’s also a reminder to use Māori phrases more for daily regular functions: a simple act that will keep the language’s heart beating. 

Te Reo Māori is undergoing a resurgence. It’s a language that has been persisted by the people of Māori, who, are continuously fighting to protect the language’s spirit, thus holding the sense of their identity. The language carries strength within itself, therefore carrying out to its speakers this hereditary trait naturally.