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Creating Non-English Placeholder Text

Everyone knows you can place the text cursor inside an empty text frame and choose Type > Fill with Placeholder Text. By default, you get some Latin text, reminiscent of “Lorum Ipsum.” And you might even know that you can customize the placeholder text with your own text.

But did you know you can hold down the Command/Ctrl key when you select Fill with Placeholder Text and get a dialog box asking what language you want to fill with? (This was new in CS6.)

Placeholder Text

When you choose a language and click OK, InDesign fills the frame with that language — changing the font to something suitable (something that contains those characters) along the way.

Nifty! But what if you want to combine these two tricks? You want to specify your own placeholder text and you want to do it in some other language? Well, a little birdy told me the trick: Create your own text file (no formatting), and save it in the UTF-16 encoding (that should be an option in your text editor) using one of the following names:

  • PlaceHolder_GR.txt (Greek)
  • PlaceHolder_CY.txt (Cyrillic)
  • PlaceHolder_AR.txt (Arabic),
  • PlaceHolder_HB.txt (Hebrew)

Unfortunately, this little birdy didn’t know the proper file names for Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. I’ve tried all the ones I can think of (JP, ja, etc.), but nothing works yet. If you can figure it out (assuming there is an answer, which there may not be), please let us know below!

Again, this placeholder text file needs to go into the Adobe InDesign application folder to work.

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12 Comments on “Creating Non-English Placeholder Text

  1. Unfortunately, there appears to be good reason to believe that this feature supports only the default language (err, English always?), Greek, Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew. It doesn’t look like there is support for the other placeholder languages (i.e. Japanese, Korean, or either of the two Chineses).

    [ Hmm, in my investigations, is this an Obscure InDesign Feature: "Insert ideographic space"? Never noticed that... ]

  2. FWIW the Hebrew comes out backwards. i.e. final letters litter the beginning of words and in my small sample I did not find any final letters at the end of words. Not worth showing even in a sketch as it looks unprofessional.

    I wonder if Arabic shows the same way.

    However your idea of customizing the text may solve this problem.

    BTW, I’m using CS4; perhaps this is different in CS6.

  3. I saw where you said it was added in CS6, but I tried it anyway. And it came up with the Language Selection drop down menu. So I selected Hebrew and got what I got. Maybe it was only partially implemented in CS4 and then they solved the backwards thing by CS6.

    Did you try it yourself?

  4. @Bob: Yes, those are all possible (I believe) with the normal placeholder.txt file.

    @Joshua: Yes, I have tried it in CS4. The feature isn’t there. I can only assume your copy of CS4 is from the future. ;)

  5. The last time I was working on things in InDesign with Arabic text you could only use CS3 ME (Middle East) version as it supported right to left langauages, CS4 wouldn’t do it at the time – there was no ME version available if I recall correctly. If you put Arabic text in it would paste in left to right so all meaning was lost just like Joshua is saying about Hebrew.

    I think I saw something in the text frame options about right to left languages in CS6 so it’s probably working properly now.

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