Transitioning Text Across Platforms?

Subject: Transitioning Text Across Platforms?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 02 Jun 2005 20:44:37 -0400

Kenneth Nuckols wonders: <<I'll be faced with the task of transferring documentation content from MS Word 2003 to Adobe InDesign CS. It sounds simple enough, but I'm afraid of all the hidden embedded codes that Word loves to cram into every document it creates.>>

Don't be afraid. Oddly enough, InDesign (at least the Mac version) does a better job of opening many Word files than Word does. No, really. I've recently had several files that instantly crashed Word every time I tried opening the files or inserting them into an open document, but they opened with no fuss whatsoever in InDesign. Copied and pasted the text back into a new Word document, saved under a new name, and all was well. Go figure!

Note that these have been 1-column files with no embedded graphics or text boxes or <shudder> graphics created in Word. I suspect InDesign will handle all of these curveballs too, but haven't tested this. As a general rule, you should extract all the text from any text boxes (an evil invention at best) and paste them into the text as a regular paragraph at roughly the right location. Then strip out all the graphics, and reimport them manually into InDesign.

<<I want to strip out my text, all my text, and nothing but my text when I transfer the content to InDesign.>>

This is probably a very inefficient way to work if you've applied any formatting (paragraph styles etc.) in Word. InDesign will let you do a search and replace to replace one style name (from Word) with an InDesign style. Why go to all the trouble of manually reformatting every paragraph when you can automate the process? If you absolutely must do this, "text" format generally works great, but RTF is a better choice because again, it preserves much of the style information.

<<My first guess would be to export the documents to a plain old .txt file from Word, but that sounds too easy to get rid of all the embedded codes that might want to migrate with my text.>>

No, .txt really is the format of choice for getting rid of Word's garbage. It eliminates everything but the characters you typed. I just suspect it's not the most efficient way to go.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Transitioning Text Across Platforms: From: Nuckols, Kenneth M

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