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InCopy as an InDesign “Reader”

Are there people at your workplace who don’t use InDesign but occasionally need to open native InDesign layouts – perhaps to check the filename of an image it uses, to make a print-out or PDF, or pick up some copy from an old project for pasting into an e-mail or Word file?

Install InCopy CS2 on their computer and they’ll be able to open any InDesign layout document you throw at them. Okay, you won’t actually throw them at them, but if you put your archived projects on a server or shared hard drive, colleagues can just open them from there. They don’t need to catch you at your desk (while you’re deeply involved in a Sudoku puzzle) just to ask “Can you just open that issue from last year so I can check something while I hover over your shoulder.”

You don’t need to make the leap to an “InCopy Workflow” in order to get this feature, it’s how InCopy ($249) works out of the box. InCopy CS2 can open any InDesign CS2 or CS1 layout without the designer having to do anything special to the files beforehand.

The layouts aren’t editable in InCopy, just as PDF files aren’t editable when opened in the free Adobe Reader. (If you want people to be able to edit stories in the layout — to actually use the workflow, in other words — designers have to do specific InCopy-related things to the stories in InDesign first.) But users can select text and copy it, then paste it into another document.

Adobe InCopy vs. Adobe Reader

In many ways, using InCopy as a simple InDesign Reader is better than converting your layouts to PDFs so people can open them with “real” Adobe Reader. (Besides saving you the step of converting all your existing and archived projects to PDFs for workgroup access.)

For example, since InCopy has its own Links palette, users can view the filenames of imported images and precisely locate where they’ve been used. There may be important mark-up or notes in the pasteboard; InCopy users can see everything on the pasteboard too. They can see precise color mixes in the Swatches palette, get word and line counts from any story, even run a Find or a spell check if they want. (If they find a misspelling, though, they can’t correct it – remember, the file is read-only.)

They can print pages or spreads, they can export stories to RTF, they can even export the file to PDF without needing Acrobat.

One disadvantage of using InCopy to open native layouts is that since fonts aren’t embedded in an InDesign file as they are in a PDF, if an InCopy user doesn’t have the required fonts loaded on their computer, they’ll get the same “dreaded pinking” highlighting of substituted fonts. Something to keep in mind.

On the other hand, they do get a full-blown powerful word processor, something that Reader doesn’t offer! And if an editor feels like using InCopy to prepare articles for your InDesign layouts, they may be more inclined to gently move to an InCopy/InDesign workflow down the road, if your workgroup decides to give it a try.

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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3 Comments on “InCopy as an InDesign “Reader”

  1. Nice work AM.

    I still find it amazing how little effort Adobe seems to be putting into selling InCopy. More often than not when I mention it to a client I get a puzzled look in return.

  2. I work as layouter in an editor’s office and Incopy is a great for our process of producing customer magazines. I love it and I hope you bring more about InCopy/Indesign

  3. Hi,

    I am working Indesign CS4 using XML process. When we assign Assignments file (For Incopy) to Indesign, Available icon not shows in text frame. Plz advise.

    When we untag XML structure, it shows, but i need with XML structure.


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