Quickly styling Word files for InDesign import

Dear eleven people who expect bicycles, novels, and six-year-old twins every time you get a “new entry” notification: This one’s for my fellow InDesign geeks from the #eprdctn Twitter group. You’re welcome to sit through it; just try not to let me see you sneak out during the presentation. It hurts my feelings.

The issue of quickly styling Word files to get them into InDesign came up during @bookdesigngirl’s #eprdctn roundtable this week. The word “nightmare” was used, since nobody ever knows what an author is going to do in a Word file. (Or anywhere else, but that’s a different therapy session.)

Since quick manual Word styling is part of the workflow I had to come up with to get around stubbornly uncooperative IT people who won’t export data in a usable form, I went oo! oo! oo! I know! I know! during the roundtable, and a couple of people said they wanted to know too. So I made two videos. The first shows what you do in Word; the second shows what you do in InDesign. They’re quick-and-dirty because I’m on deadline today. So naturally it was the perfect moment to make how-to videos.

First, a screenshot. Your friends in Word are the Formatting Palette and the fact that Word is capable of selecting discontiguous text:

My screen video capture freeware doesn’t show the cursor moving around, but hopefully you can still tell what’s going on.

Video 1 of 2: Quickly styling in Word
If you want full-size hi-res, it’s here.

Authors are usually more-or-less consistent with their local formatting within a document, even if you can’t get them to be consistent with your house workflow.

Notice that this author had SUBHEAD 1 locally styled in two different ways. That’s okay; we pick up the second local styling on our second pass, and then apply the same SUBHEAD 1 style we made during the first pass.

Video 2 of 2: Bringing it into InDesign
If you want full-size hi-res, it’s here.

My InDesign file already has my classically beautiful house styles in it. All I have to do is place the Word file, make sure I check “Show Import Options,” and then choose “Custom Style Import” and “Style Mapping.”

Isn’t it lovely? All ready to go on press.

Now: Sometimes Word isn’t totally, uh, pleasing about how it defines what’s an instance of what you’re looking for and what isn’t. When that happens, you can either just keep at it in Word, or you can leave that particular thing alone and deal with it in InDesign, using find/change. I find I can usually get to 95% in Word in about five minutes, and then another five minutes in InDesign, being as clever and tricky as I can with find/change, and I’m done.

There are plenty more tricks, but they’re the kind of thing an InDesign Jedi can think of in half a minute. This one uses a Word feature nobody seems to know about.

Was this useful?


Filed under Design and production, InDesign, Production tricks, Word

15 responses to “Quickly styling Word files for InDesign import

  1. I noticed some of the green italics in InDesign aren’t in the right font. Sometimes Word’s local stuff overrides InDesign’s applied stuff. I don’t know why–but it’s easy to fix. Select all, go to the Paragraph Styles palette, and clear overrides.

    If you’re not sure you really caught all the local stuff when you were working in Word, be careful doing this, because it will leave you with no local styling irregularities that you can grab in InDesign with a find/replace and replace with character styles.

  2. The Book Studio

    Yes, very useful! Thank you so much. Those are two powerful ways of handling Word styles that I didn’t know about. Makes me rethink dropping ID out of my Word to ePub workflow.

    Don’t think I’m not going to mention the Comic Sans. You’re a bad, bad boy, but you already knew that. :0)

  3. Tara

    I’m partial to bicycles, novels and six-year-old twins myself. I didn’t sneak out, but it was all Latin to me.

  4. Pingback: youtube / tutorials / sharing « The Book Studio

  5. By all that’s holy, what is “InDesign”?

    This is Quantum Physics 2 isn’t it?

  6. I’m excited to come across this much-needed info. I would like to see the screenshot but homepage.mac.com doesn’t exist anymore.

  7. lore roovers

    Wtf. I knew that was how to do it. But if i map the word styles to the indesign styles it overwrites and turns the indesign styles into the word styles :/… any thoughts?

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