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re-import CS3 styles from Word back into InDesign?

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Valerie Price
re-import CS3 styles from Word back into InDesign?
on Jun 12, 2009 at 4:13:52 pm

This is a very long entry, but if you can bear with me I'll be eternally grateful for an answer that will save our production team hundreds of hours of work.

I'm an editor, not a designer (so I don't know anything about InDesign). But I work with designers who use CS3 to produce an annual 400-page hard-copy college catalog. Much of the text of this book remains the same each year, but much changes. As they import the usual 200 or so updated Word files into InDesign each time, the designers have had to choose between reformatting thousands of heads, subheads, bulleted paragraphs, etc., from scratch, or finding shortcuts involving laborious cutting and pasting that save them a tremendous amount of formatting keystrokes but introduce error into the process. Either way, this is enormously time consuming for them.

I am also webmaster of the book, so once the printed layout is finalized and all the little editorial tweaks have been made, they do a cross-media export to XHTML/Digital Editions and I load that version up to the web. It's nice because the export produces the CSS stylesheet, and the style tags are embedded in the file. Ready, go -- no need for reformatting anything for the web. (By the way, we also put up a PDF version of the book.) I then take that file and parse it back into separate little Word files, so that the (many) campus contributors who know nothing about XHTML can update them for the next year. And the whole process begins again, starting from Word.

Here's my question:
Can the above export process be reversed? Or, if I can make Word files that have the InDesign formatting code in them, and if we use those for the editorial updating, then when the designers flow that text back into InDesign will there be an instant, finished layout? Or is there some other way to achieve the goal of not having the designers spend so much time on formatting issues each year?

Thanks for any insight you can provide!

P.S. The designers tell me that they use CS3 because there are currently too many bugs in CS4. So changing to CS4 is currently not an option for us.

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