indesign crashing on nearly finished book with publishing deadline this week help please!

nicholasgross's picture


I'm a little bit worried, we have a deadline to get this book finished this week but indesign has just started crashing everytime I attempt to mve from the current page. It also does it on other copies of indesign on other computers so it must be the file itself. I have kept the display performance at typical, I have thrown out all styles copied over from word, I have trashed the preferences file. Does anybody know anything else to try, kind of desperate.

I work by copying text out of word and pasting it into pages, I select all the italics and change it to an italic style and then I force the body text style over the top. Up until now, I've had no problems with this method.


nicholasgross's picture

I also just preflighted it and there doesn't seem to be any problems there...

nicholasgross's picture

I think I've located the problem to a section of pages. Every time indesign is pointed to those pages via the pages palette, the scroll-bar, the page arrows or the find/change function, it shuts up shop

TBiddy's picture

First quick fix. Select all text (chapter by chapter) and paste in a new InDesign document.

If you have Quark too...paste an additional copy in Quark.

This probably isn't telling you anything new...but give it a try.

TBiddy's picture

also...create a white box (exact same size) and send it to back in your master page...this'll allow you to keep all of your graphic elements on the page. Tedious...but its good to have a back-up.

nicholasgross's picture

Thanks Biddy,

I've deleted the offending pages through the pages palette and things seem to be OK now. If it happens again when I try to paste in the text I'll try that method, seems a good idea because you select via chapter and don't need to nav to individual pages. Nice idea.

Just out of interest does my workflow nethod seem flawed or like I'm asking for trouble? I'm interested to know how people preserve italics from word to indesign while still using para styles
thanks for the help


TBiddy's picture

Word and InDesign have settings in their preferences that allow you to "keep text formatting" or something to that effect. Problem you'll run into, is that Word makes fake italics.

nicholasgross's picture

That's true, although indesign will often allow you to search even for false [italic]s using TNR anyway and change it to a character style

Linda Cunningham's picture

I work by copying text out of word and pasting it into pages....

Given a choice between c&p or Place, I'd pick Place if using Word. That being said, I'd convert the Word doc into a txt file and place that -- there's just too many strange things (macros, etc.) that can happen with Word documents -- and format from there.

I'm assuming you've got this thing set up as a book? The long-way round would be to export the text as .txt in the offending chapter, and build a new one from the ground up, then replace the chapter. Sometimes you need to start from scratch\....

Good luck!

nicholasgross's picture

Thanks Linda,

my editor swears by Word 5.1 and thinks that every newer version has nowhere near the stability or reliability of this. She might be right, I don't trust it much either and previously I was 'cleaning text' by doing that but i guess I got lazy


Linda Cunningham's picture

Eeeeewwwww! The last time I used 5.1 seriously was probably eight years ago, but I agree with her about the stability, at least when you're working within it. ;-) Cut and paste into ID (particularly CS) gets seriously problematic though....

(She may swear by Word, I swear at it.)

pattyfab's picture

When I run into problems with a file the first thing I do is "save as" before I start monkeying with it. You probably did that too.

I was gonna say what Linda said - I find it better to "place" the Word doc than to copy and paste, at least that is how I think the program is designed to work.

I don't understand Macros - sometimes when I open a word file I get the alert asking me if I want to enable or disable Macros. I always disable them.

I also find sometimes I need to save .rtf word files as .doc - otherwise there can be strange artifacts and formatting in there.

Raphael Daudelin's picture

It did happen to me a couple of time that an InDesign document got corrupted. Since I'm working on a lot of books, and that it involves lots of work on a long amount of time, the best way to reduce the damage is to create a new document each day with the date include in the name (book-A_021207.indd). If your document gets corrupted, you can get the document of the previous day, at least, you only loose one day work.

I do also think that it's better to place the text from word and then work with find/change, to be sure there is no fake italics in your document.

nicholasgross's picture

Thanks very much all

--> I managed to sort the problem out by deleting the diseased pages, no further trouble, let's hope it stays that way. Hey Patty, doesn't .doc have the same problems as .rtf? in my muddled mind I thought .doc was a native word file format... I tried exporting simple text from a text-edit program but (of course I guess) I didn't get my italics. So now I'm going word>textedit>rtf>indesign I'm hoping that .rtf will get rid of some of the invisible gremlins,


Jackie Frant's picture

Just to let you know - when this happens on my MAC - I go to the preference folder - and throw out the preferences. Word is good for another year - Quark goes back to work, etc. etc. etc.

Just an FYI as a future thing to do first --

nicholasgross's picture

Thanks JAckie, I actually mentioned doing that in my first post ;)


Jackie Frant's picture

Didn't see it there - I'm getting old and tired.
Glad you found a solution -

I'm about to upgrade from 10.3.9 to 10.4 something or other - and I'm terrified... I keep putting it off. I know what gremlins lurk in my system now - I don't think I'm ready for a new batch.

BTW - when Word crashed on me the other day, I had to throw out preferences twice and a few other files in the MS Word Preference folder - and well, what can I say, it's been behaving again...

BradB's picture

I’m about to upgrade from 10.3.9 to 10.4 something or other - and I’m terrified…

I'd wait till 10.5 at this point.

Linda Cunningham's picture

If 10.3.9 is working fine for you, then I agree with Brad -- hang in until 10.5 is released. I made the leap from 9.2 to 10.4 and spent months straightening things out: I'm quite happy with how it's working now, but given my hardware limitations, that will probably be it for me without a new box.

Ch's picture

slightly off the original topic, perhaps a new thread.

re: Mac OSX 10.3.9 upgrading to 10.4.? and beyond...
i've found 10.3.9 to be stable and trouble free, but reverse incompatible with various subsequent periferal software upgrades (motivating me to frequently curse forced upgrades).

but i have a removable BOOTABLE firewire drive with 10.3.9 installed. Whenever i run into a 10.4.? related hiccup (getting less frequent, thankfully) i can restart from the 10.3.9 firewire and either revert the document or troubleshoot the problem. you can easily make any secondary drive (or partition) bootable with a neat little software package called SuperDuper from shirt-pocket. It also performs (optional) scheduled back-ups.
i highly recommend it.

Miss Tiffany's picture

As Patty mentioned, it is a very healthy habit to use "save as..." at least occasionally as you work on files. "Save" simply saves the information in the order you've been using it in. Whereas "Save as" reorders the information. I liken it to defragmenting a hard drive. This is why "save" can corrupt a file. (Although I'm hardly technical so someone else could clarify.)

Linda Cunningham's picture

That's actually a pretty good comparison, Tiff: a lot of junk can accumulate in files, making them bigger and more subject to "issues." A clean "Save as" not only gets rid of a lot of junk, it will, when you preflight and send it off, save your printer from running into problems too....

jason's picture

In class my analogy for "Save As" is the blackboard: as you write on it during class you're constantly erasing and applying fresh chalk, and by the end of the class the board is covered in multiple layers of half-erased chalk dust, with bits and pieces of earlier notes still partially visible. When you hit "Save" you're saving all of that chalk. "Save As" is like doing a thorough cleaning of the boards and then writing only the final set of notes onto a clean background.

As for the transfer from Word to InDesign, like Nicholas I tend to simply "Select All" and copy the content from the Word manuscript and paste the entire thing into the first text frame of my InDesign file, then create new P & C styles and work through the book from start to finish to apply the sytles. Occasionally the styles don't take and I have to manually apply/strip certain attributes, but this allows me to keep the manuscript's formating (italics, etc.) even though I'm changing fonts & sizes, etc. This is the way I've always brought Word docs into InDesign and I've never had a problem.

That said, I work on a PC, so I don't have the frustrating OS problems that Mac users are always pretending they don't have.

pattyfab's picture

Another HUGE piece of advice is to break down your book into chapters or at least manageable chunks. That way if there's a bit of text or an image that's corrupt you don't lose the whole file. Quark files in particular can get really huge if you're using high res scans. I rarely if ever make one file for a whole book.

Jason - I was having the same problem with the styles not "taking" but if you hold down shift+command (on a mac) when you apply the style, it overrides whatever else is in there. Also, select all and hit "No Paragraph Style" before you start.

But here's a question, if you apply the character styles FIRST then you don't have the override problem when you apply the paragraph style? That's helpful to know.

Linda Cunningham's picture

That said, I work on a PC, so I don’t have the frustrating OS problems that Mac users are always pretending they don’t have.

Well, I've worked with CS and CS2 on Win2000 and XP and had problems with importing Word files with those as well: no application or OS is perfect.

jason's picture

My issue with using the "Clear Overrides" is that this will, indeed, strip out original document's italic formating, etc. Occassionally I'll apply my "body - indent" style and for whatever reason the font doesn't take, or the size, so I quickly highlight that paragraph and manually set the font or size or whatever it is that didn't take. This normally fixes the bug. I only use "Clear Overrides" as a last resort.

For a while I played with setting up my styles first using placeholder text, then clear the document of content and bring in the Word copy, using InDesign's replace-Word-styles-with-InDesign-styles dialogue, but this never seemed to transfer smoothly, so I've gone back to bringing in the Word file and manually applying the InDesign styles I've created. Then I trash all of the Word styles and continue to tweak the content both through my style definitions and manually, where necessary. These are often 400 page books with more than a dozen master pages and dozens of graphics and I've yet to have a major issue.

All of this, of course, depends on how well copy-edited the manuscript is. I have one client who sends me the most meticulously formated manuscripts you can imagine, with good, clean stylesheets used throughout and the text fully colour-coded (blue italics, red acronyms, green parens/brackets, orange URLs, etc.), but the majority of the source documents are chaotic disasters. Thus, manually applying my custom styles one paragraph at a time is my own method of damage control in that it forces me to format the project piece by piece, thus gaining some real connection to the content, which is always a good thing.

pattyfab's picture

It sucks but there is generally no better way to do it than manually. I often have the word doc open on my other computer so I can double check I caught all the itals etc. I do prefer manual overrides because I don't like those little pink text artifacts. It's also cleaner for preflight, I find, leaves less to the printer's imagination. Then go back in if necessary and apply the character styles one by one. It can be a pain but I'm a perfectionist.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Jason: I feel you on that! I have a client (2 editors) who use Word in differing ways. One of them isn't bothered by using the stylesheets and I don't lose his formatting when I apply mine in InDesign. However, the other editor has a nasty habit (his words) of using Word's stylesheets which really cocks up the works. I've not found a perfect work-a-round yet. Even using the custom import feature isn't perfect.

Linda: Oh, well I"m glad I wasn't too far off the mark. ;^)

pattyfab's picture

I hate when the editor formats the text in word. Quark had an imperfect system called Xpress Tags and when it worked it WORKED - the tags formatted themselves. But it didn't always work. Two of my clients still tag the text this way. Yes, you have to manually remove the tags as you go along, but it is extremely clear what you're supposed to do with the text re itals, different levels of heads, etc.

I always eliminate any styling in word before I flow the text into either InD or Quark. If I don't have a hard copy to refer to then I save a copy with the formatting intact and leave that doc open to refer to (as mentioned above) while I work.

It used to be that if you converted the italics to underline in the word doc for some reason Quark would preserve that, and then you could do a find/change in Quark back to italics after you'd applied your paragraph style, but Q6 doesn't do that anymore.

sconnor's picture

We just had a problem like that in the studio. It was a font issue. The new intel G5 tower a designer just got couldn't process certain fonts and every time she tried to get to the next page of her indd file, it would just up and quit.

Basically, we're going to have to get new fonts-- because this computer is having trouble processing a Truetype 1 font.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Truetype or Type 1?

How bizarre. I haven't had these sort of problems. KNOCK ON WOOD!

Jackie Frant's picture

Love going off-topic to topic again - just wanted you to know that 10.4 pack is sitting here waiting to be installed. I'll be entitled to the 10.5 when it comes out. I'm not in want of getting out of 10.3.9 because I have programs that only run on System 9 - like Font Expert. I found out that Fontographer has an update - and will only be an additional 99 bucks - but I can start using Quark 7 as soon as I put 10.4 in.

And just to let you know - I do have a LaCie removal with a System folder on it -- and it was great when I was cleaning out my internal hard disk - but now I cannot get it to mount. Anyone remember the keyboard controls for getting a startup from an external drive? I'm drawing a blank, and too busy (lazy) to look it up.

and sconner - what is a Truetrype 1 font? I seem to be able to use all kinds - but if you have followed some of the writings here, you'll find that my printer prefers me to send only Type 1 fonts with the job... His equipment doesn't care for TTF fonts - at all. And since I like my jobs printed the way I designed them - I oblige...

Miss Tiffany's picture

Hold the "option" key down.

Jackie Frant's picture

Thank you - that may bring me one step closer to the switch over...

Funny, I remember everyone on System 6 -- and I was the lone brave soul to go into System 7. Had to change all my programs for that too.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Jackie, I remember going through that as well -- it felt like the great leap into the unknown.... ;-)

Miss Tiffany's picture

You're welcome. :^)

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

“Save” simply saves the information in the order you’ve been using it in. Whereas “Save as” reorders the information. I liken it to defragmenting a hard drive.

I am joining in late, as usual... Tiffany, Patty, Jason: all good analogies. I was taught that "Save as" rebuilds the file from scratch, and that is why it gets rid of all the accumulated junk.

As for Word 5.1, when the bloated version 6.0 first came out I avoided it and stuck with 5.1 for a good long while... :-D

Linda Cunningham's picture

All of this, of course, depends on how well copy-edited the manuscript is.

Well, that certainly helps a lot. But I've had great copy editors screw up the e-file, and vice versa.

Besides, producing something useful for the printer and the audience overwhelmingly depends on the bundle of skin, bones, and brain cells in the chair.

Great design has always been done by great designers: that the "tools" have changed over the years has made the job faster and more convenient, but that's about it.

These days, it doesn't really matter which OS or application "the designer" works on, so long as s/he knows what is going on and produces the appropriate product: to insist that A is "better" than "B" is a fool's game.

If you

(a) aren't connected to a network,

(b) practice safe hex,

(c) implement editorial best practices,

(d) send files to a reputable printing shop, and

(e) are a professional,

then there's a good chance you will have very few problems.

If you don't, then you can find yourself bashing your head into a brick wall, but it won't matter what OS you're using.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Haven't seen this tip (I think...):

Corrupt InDesign files can be repaired / rescued by exporting as InDesign Interchange file (Found under File:Export...).
Opening an indx-file will rebuild the document.

What Patty said about doing a regular Save As... is sound policy. Note that InD is in the habit of keeping a lot of previous states of a document in it's file. Save As will flush out all that, but beware that you loose the ability to Command-Z back to a previous state.

plainclothes's picture

just to second (third, fourth ...) the statements above:

- regularly do a Save As (I do this every time I'm ready to close out the doc)

- inx format solves all kinds of trouble, but if you're using CS, be sure to get the latest update before relying on it (some minor, but necessary patches in version 3.0.1 (838))

- always place Word docs rather than C&P to avoid problems (this is not a Mac-centric problem)

I've heard people say it's best to save as RTF out of Word, but this gives me more problems than the native format. one catch (at least in the past) is that you have to disable "fast save" in Word for a clean import. with a little scripting, I can usually get very long texts into InD with perfectly intact styles. Word is not an elegant machine, but InD has done a pretty good job of bending it to it's will.

Bruce's picture

Here's a painful memory from the old days: did any of you Quarkies ever get the message This document was built with another system's fonts. It will be rebuilt with this system's fonts.??

In 1993 I did a very complicated scholarly book, 256 pages, 8.5 x 11 with text in 2 cols, with huge numbers of illustrations and detailed notes at the end of each chapter. As mentioned above by someone I saved it in chapter chunks rather than in one large file (thank goodness!). I was probably using XPress 3.32, can't remember now. Anyhow, I started this job on my Mac IIcx and it never left my machine. Ever. In general I adored this project: great editors, great content, nice design, just fun all around. So most of the time I cruised along, thoroughly enjoying myself.

But then, after toiling away to get the textual reference to a picture to be on the same spread as the picture, or to accomplish any number of things that we all like to do with fine typesetting, sometimes going back 3 or 4 or 5 pages to gain or lose a line, out of the blue I'd get this sudden message. It was as bad as getting "the bomb." It drove me crazy because there was no pattern to it. Despite hours of consultation, Apple and Quark were never able to find out what was wrong.

And of course when you are experimenting with something like these moves, you don't want to save the file every 5 minutes because you may not like where you end up! Once the dreaded message appeared, all the text for the entire chapter would reflow, ruining all my careful tracking moves, soft returns, and so forth. I would either revert if I was lucky, or sometimes I'd have to do a "thumbnail drag" (for those of you not familiar with XPress, think of it as an "extreme save as") to generate a new file.

Anyway, just curious if any of you ever ran into this. I was astonished, since no other external system was ever involved, and my own computer remained constant in terms of what system I was running at that time.

filip blazek's picture

Yes, I remember that situation, it occured several times in 1995 or 1996. The same document, the same computer, the same fonts. One day the text reflows and I had to rebuild the document again. Luckily, I don't use XPress from 2001.

ybaggar's picture

Corrupt InDesign files can be repaired / rescued by exporting as InDesign Interchange file (Found under File:Export…).

thanks! i think you just saved my life :)

charles ellertson's picture

This may not help, but we save Word documents in RTF format. We have a set of routines that we run on the RTF files that change the RTF formatting strings into InDesign tags -- we call such files .ITT (InDesign Tagged Text). These are then imported into InDesign. All this on a PC, but it should work for a Mac.

The hard (well, laborious) part is writing the initial conversion program going from .RTF to ".ITT" -- but once that is done, you're in business. BTW, don't try importing an RFT file -- InDesign will mess up some of the characters.


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