You'll Need to Sit Down For This One: Open Microsoft Publisher Files in InDesign!

You'll Need to Sit Down For This One: Open Microsoft Publisher Files in InDesign!
Are you sitting? Don’t read any further unless you’re sitting. The news I’m about to share requires that you be in a seated position before reading any further.

OK, ready? You can open Microsoft Publisher files in InDesign.

Whoa! I can hear the sounds of publishers, editors and designers falling out of their chairs from Sydney, Australia to Portland, Maine.

Now, aren’t you glad you were sitting?
You heard me right. I just received an email from Markzware. You’ve probably bought their products before. They’re the folks behind FlightCheck, ID2Q (InDesign to Quark) and Q2ID (Quark to InDesign). They have a new plug-in for InDesign called PUB2ID (Microsoft Publisher to Adobe InDesign). PUB2ID provides an easy method to migrate Microsoft Publisher content into Adobe InDesign documents.

The conversion is enabled with a single click using the InDesign File->Open menu. No more re-creating documents from scratch; PUB2ID gives you a big head-start.

OK. Take a breath. It caught me by surprise, too. One of the questions I get most often is from newspapers trying to figure out what to do with all those pesky Microsoft Publisher files they receive. Windows-based newspapers can open the files in Publisher, then make a PDF of them.

Still, that isn’t a perfect solution. Mac-based newspapers have been at a total loss. There has not been a program (till now) that can open a Publisher document on a Mac.

Then, on Friday, I received a general announcement from Mary Gay at Markzware - something about opening Publisher files in InDesign. She had my attention.
I’ve become a big fan of Q2ID and ID2Q, plug-ins that allow Quark users to open InDesign files and InDesign users to open Quark files. When I have the chance I tell every newspaper they should have one of these, depending on which application they use for layout. I couldn’t help but wonder if PUB2ID would work as well as these.

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is InDesign will open Microsoft Publisher files with PUB2ID. The bad news is that they don’t open as cleanly as Quark files open in InDesign using Q2ID. I can’t fault the folks at Markzware for this. There are plenty of notices on their Web site to let potential buyers know that Publisher files opened in InDesign will have to be adjusted. Things move around. Fonts, if the Publisher fonts aren’t loaded on your system, change. Still, Microsoft Publisher files open in InDesign! For now, that’s good enough for me.

I contacted Mary and asked if she could send a copy of PUB2ID to me. Upon downloading and installing the software, I was faced with a dilemma. I didn’t have any Microsoft Publisher files. I’ve gotten in the habit of discarding problematic files as quickly as possible, so I don’t keep these lying around.

Fortunately, I remembered that a colleague does her company calendar in Publisher, and I know a church secretary that produces a newsletter in Publisher. After a couple of quick calls, I had two .PUB (Publisher) files in my inbox.

I quickly went to Adobe InDesign CS3 (PUB2ID works with the CS2 and CS3 versions of InDesign) and selected File>Open. After saying the magic words and sprinkling pixie dust on my keyboard, I selected the Publisher files to open. To my surprise, the six-page newsletter opened up very nicely. Things were in the right place.

Most fonts looked right, and I was able to adjust, using the standard InDesign tools, items that had shifted or otherwise needed adjustment. I used the handy find/change tool to convert missing fonts to fonts on my system, and I had a newsletter that looked like I had designed it in InDesign.

The calendar, however, didn’t convert as well. Everything was there. All the text, clipart and lines were on the page. But it required a lot of work to get things where they needed to be. In fact, I wondered if it wouldn’t be just as fast to create a new calendar in InDesign from scratch. To be fair, though, most Publisher files newspapers receive are more like the newsletter - a combination of graphics and text. The calendar was a tough conversion due to all the overlapping text frames and lines.

It seems that most Publisher files that end up in newspaper inboxes are ads created by “agencies” that don’t have access to professional layout programs such as QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign or Illustration applications like Adobe Illustrator and MultiAd Creator. These ads normally consist of a simple graphic or two, plus some text.

It was interesting to see how PUB2ID worked. Immediately upon opening a Publisher file in InDesign, the plug-in created a folder on the hard drive that held all the links to the page. I found individual files for each graphic. These files could be opened and edited in Photoshop, if desired. Thy also appeared in the Links panel (or palette) in InDesign. Once the file was open, it was an InDesign document. I could do everything to the text, graphics and photos that I could do to anything created from scratch in InDesign. Quite impressive.

We’ve been waiting a long time to have an option for dealing with these pesky Publisher files and now we have one.

To learn more about PUB2ID, visit Markzware.com. Both Mac and PC versions are available. The list price is $199 (US). System requirements include Mac OS 10.4 and higher, InDesign CS2 or CS3, 128 MB of available RAM and 250 MB of free HD space (Mac) or Windows 2K, XP or Vista, InDesign CS2 or CS3, 128 MB of available RAM and 250 MB of free HD space (PC).

OK, now you may stand up.
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Member Opinions:
By: journalruth on 12/14/07
Wow! I'll be able to stop making my bookkeeper open the Publisher files we receive and send them back to me.

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