09 September 2016

Workflow for low-tech .doc or .docx to .idml, #2

Since posting Workflow for low-tech .doc or .docx to .idml in July, I have an opportunity to put my own suggested workflow into practice.

It's certainly a pity we didn't follow step 1 to the letter.
After laying out far too many Word documents in InDesign, we noticed that the non-breaking hyphens (aka NBHs or hard hyphens) had apparently disappeared in InDesign.

McKee (@MacKeyComp), author of Moving Text From Word to InDesignexplained that, when importing a Word document into InDesign, NBHs are not recognising as such. Indeed, in his testing, they are treated as Bookmarks. If you open the Bookmarks Panel, you’ll likely find Bookmarks with names like “_GoBack” in place of where the NBH was entered in Word. You can’t search for Bookmarks in InDesign’s Find/Change, but you can use the Bookmarks Panel to go right to it and enter it manually. It helps if you have Type > Show Hidden Characters on in InDesign.

Jamie also reminded me that, had I wanted to, I could also have made changes to the Word documents already drafted with NBHs all over the place using Word’s Find and Replace to search for “^~”.

The next step was to ask Stanislav Okhvat, the developer of TransTools, about batch processing Word files. He's planning on adding this capability to his product, but it's not available yet.
He suggested two options:

  • a freeware Word add-in by Funduc Software (see here) for one replacement at a time in multiple files, and
  • for multiple replacements according to a replacement list, try Batch Replacer for MS Word, a shareware product that neither Stanislav nor I have tested to date, but which looks promising.


Jamie's finding (Word NBHs become bookmarks) only applies, apparently to certain combinations of hardware and software on the different computers.
Tests I conducted showed that on other occasions Word NBHs simply disappear into the ether leaving the InDesign document with the hyphenated elements contiguous.
Such is life!

Anyone out there got any workarounds?


  1. I have not found much information but I'd be willing to publish your comment if you provide links/additional documentation on these. Thanks
    Translation Agencies|Translation & Typesetting Company

    1. Well, links are precisely what I'm looking for. Can you help?


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