InDesign Importing from Word

If you originally wrote your content in Word, you can import the text into InDesign.

To start the import process, go to File > Place. This will bring up a dialog of options (explained below). Once you have selected all the options you want, you click on “OK” to place the text on the page.

screenshot showing the file, place menu

You Can Import Only Text

The import process will not work with images, tables, text boxes, SmartArt, drawings, embedded charts, or anything else except the text. If you need to convert those kinds of objects from Word to InDesign, you will need to either re-create them in InDesign (or another program like Illustrator or Photoshop) or export all the objects separately from Word and import them into InDesign as graphics or other similar objects.

InDesign Retains the Visual Appearance of Word’s Styles

If you use Word styles on the text in the original Word document, InDesign will recognize those styles and retain the basic properties of those styles, such as font, color, size, and so on. InDesign will treat the styles as purely visual embellishments, without any accessibility features, unless you map the Word styles to InDesign tags.

You Must Map Word Styles to InDesign Tags

If you use styles to designate headings in the Word document, you can retain the semantic meaning of those headings by mapping them to InDesign styles, assuming that the InDesign styles are mapped to tags (like h1, h2, h3, etc.). If the InDesign document already has styles mapped to heading tags, you can match the Word styles to the InDesign styles during the import process.

  1. Go to File > Place, which will bring up a dialog. Under the “Format” options, choose Customize Style Import option
    Screenshot showing the Customize Style Import button
  2. Then select the “Style Mapping” This will bring up another dialog.
    At first, the styles will be completely unmatched, which means that if you proceed without mapping them, InDesign will create new styles in the InDesign document with the names of the Word styles. If you don’t yet have any styles in the InDesign document, there is nothing more to do at this stage. After importing the text from Word, you will need to map the imported styles to heading tags.
    Screenshot showing the style mapping dialog
  3. If your InDesign document has styles mapped to heading tags already, you’ll probably want to match the Word styles to their InDesign equivalents by choosing the names of the InDesign styles from the drop-down list.
    Screenshot showing the drop-down list of InDesign styles for a document

    Note: The names of the styles in the drop-down list will be the names that you gave to the styles. In the example above, the names of the styles are “H1”, “H2”, etc. only because the author chose those names.
    Screenshot showing the Word styles mapped to InDesign styles
  4. Once you are done mapping the Word styles to their InDesign equivalents, press OK on the top dialog, then press OK on the bottom dialog, then place the text by clicking the mouse in the document. If your cursor was already in a text box before starting the import process, InDesign will place the text into that text box.

Or Import the Text Without Styles

If your original Word document does not use styles, or if it uses them badly, you may want to strip all of the visual styling completely before importing the text into InDesign, so that you can apply proper styles and tags with InDesign after importing. One of the easiest ways to do this is to copy all of the text in the Word document and paste it directly into InDesign, bypassing the import options. Just don’t forget to apply the proper styles and tags later.