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How to Place One InDesign file Into Another?

You can now place one InDesign file into another. That’s not the same as merging two InDesign documents, A common practice, especially among QuarkXPress-based publishing workflows, is to export a layout page as EPS and then place the EPS inside the same or another layout—a picture of a page within a page. It’s the way to do, for example, cover shots in magazine “Letters to the Editor” or “In the next issue” department pages.

While the QuarkXPress method of saving/exporting a single page to EPS and then replacing has worked for many, many years, and despite the fact that InDesign can do it the same way (File >Export, choose EPS, JPEG, SVG, or PDF format), there are significant drawbacks to that method.
Specifically these:

- It’s one page at a time export. If you need images of every page of a 32-page publication, you have to repeat the process—go to the page, ensure it’s the current page, select File > Export or File >Save Page as EPS, name the file, click Save—32 times.
- It’s one page at a time import. To place those 32 pages, you’ll have to do it 32 times.
- Exporting pages creates a whole new file—more assets to manage, more likelihood of missing or corrupted files, and more potential RIP problems.
- Exported pages are copies, not the original pages. If the actual layout of the page design changes—say, at the last minute, the cover shot for the next issue changes—you must rebuild and replace the EPS of pages, again, one at a time.
- Exported images are EPS, an obsolete format. Although InDesign does a great job with EPS previews, as do recent versions of QuarkXPress. Even QuarkXPress, the application that pioneered the methodology, didn’t, prior to version 6.5, include a screen preview that could be considered reliable relevant to the print output.

Most of us have learned as a matter of necessity to work around the drawbacks, but now, why
bother? InDesign CS3 solves all these drawbacks and problems:

- Problem: It’s one page at a time export. Solution: There is no export; just save the source INDD document.
- Problem: It’s one page at a time import. Solution: Importing InDesign INDD documents is exactly like importing PDFs, with an identical dialog and the ability to import one, all, or a range of pages, which will place sequentially from the on-deck place queue just as with multipage PDFs.
- Problem: Exporting pages creates a whole new file. Solution: There is no export and no additional assets to manage.
- Problem: Exported pages are copies, not the original pages. Solution: There is no export. When the source INDD changes, update linked assets to reflect those changes in the placed instance(s) within the current layout.
- Problem: Exported images are EPS, an obsolete format. Solution: There is no spoon, Neo.

You can place one InDesign document inside another, although you cannot do a “hydra import,” an asexual import wherein the same InDesign document is placed back into itself as an asset. If that’s what you need, consider your options. Longer documents can, for other reasons as well, often benefit from splitting into multiple files coupled by an InDesign Book. With a Book tying them together, styles and swatches can remain synchronized, as can page and section numbers, and all documents in the publication can be printed, packaged, and exported to PDF simultaneously, just as can a single document. If a Book doesn’t makes sense for your document yet you still need to place a page from the current document as an asset on another page, save the asset version as a separate, complete copy of the document. Then, if the source page changes in the final deliverable, just make a new copy of the master document, overwriting the asset version, and update links. That is still more reliable and faster than taking the route of export to EPS, JPEG, SVG, or PDF; it does result in a larger package for print, though.

from ProfesorAZii (Asif Zamir)


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