Sharing Text Between Two InDesign Documents

If you need to use the same text in two InDesign documents, it can be a hassle to keep the changes consistent. If you find a typo or need to add a paragraph, you have to make the change in two different places. To simplify editing, you can use the InCopy export options–and you don’t need to have InCopy to get this to work.

Being able to share text between two documents is especially important when you’re publishing to mobile devices. If you’re using the Digital Publishing Suite to create magazines for the iPad, you can create separate horizontal and vertical documents so that a different layout of the same content appears when the iPad is rotated.

Quick Summary: Export a linked InCopy (.icml) file from one file, and place it in the other file. When you want to edit the linked text, check out the linked story in one document, save the changes, check it in, and then update the other document.

Here are the detailed steps for sharing text between two InDesign documents.

1. In one of the InDesign documents, select a text frame or place your insertion point in the text frame.

2. Choose Edit > InCopy > Export > Selection.

Choosing this option exports the entire story, which is a set of threaded text frames.

3. Specify the name and location of the linked InCopy (.icml) file, and save it.

An icon in the text frame indicates a linked file.

4. Open the other InDesign document, and place the insertion point in the text frame where you want it to appear (delete the previous copy of the text, if necessary).

5. Choose File > Place, and double-click the exported .icml file. Add and edit threaded text frames if necessary.

Now the linked file appears in both documents. When you want to make changes, you can check the file out, make your edits, and check it back in.

6. Place the insertion point inside the linked story, and choose Edit > InCopy > Check Out.

An edit icon replaces the link icon.

7. Edit the text, save the document, and choose Edit > InCopy > Check In.

8. Open the other document, place the insertion point inside the linked text frame, and choose Edit > InCopy > Update.

With shared files, be careful about making formatting changes in one document that might make the other document look bad. For example, if you manually hyphenate a word in one document, it may appear as “concat- enate” in the other document. Use discretionary hyphens instead.

Special thanks to Colin Fleming for reminding me that InCopy isn’t necessary to share text files.

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