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Disappearing hyphens on Word import

Apr 30, 2012 3:55 AM

Tags: #word #indesign #import #hyphen

I have imported a Word file (details of Word - version, platform etc. - unknown) into InDesign CS5.5 and found that some of the hyphens have effectively disappeared. In fact, they have come through as discretionary hyphens, but with a line break what should have been (and looks like in Word) 'British-born' has come out in InDesign as 'Britishborn', with a non-appearing discretionary hyphen in place between the two words. I've never seen this before and didn't think it would even be possible. It makes me slightly worried that I'll have to check every file import for discretionary hyphens, just in case important ones disappear like this. Any ideas why/how this might happen and what might be a good way to check?

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 30, 2012 5:43 AM   in reply to r-j-f

    I've imported quite a few Word files over the years, and I've never seen this.


    The Word file could be corrupt. Try opening it in a recent version of Word and resave the file, and try again.

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  • Rob Day
    3,122 posts
    Oct 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 30, 2012 7:21 AM   in reply to r-j-f

    I've never received a Word file that doesn't need some cleaning up—things like double spaces starting a sentence, tabs indenting a paragraph, returns creating white-space, non-breaking spaces, all have to go via a script or search and replace. So, you could include discretionary hyphens in the list and replace with real hyphens.


    There could be a case where the author is actually trying to manipulate breaks and the discretionary hyphen is intended—the word isn't a hyphenated word—but it doesn't sound like that's what's going on.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 30, 2012 7:58 AM   in reply to r-j-f

    On some word files, before importing to InDesign - in Microsoft Word I go to the Tool menu and there's an option for "Fix Broken Text" which seems to fix a lot of issues with import.


    Perhaps also saving as a RTF and try importing that instead.


    Can it copy and paste the text ok? I do this mostly into a blank document and then perform any InDesign clean ups there. I then expor to RTF from InDesign and then reimport that RTF (because I need to map style on import). Plus the Clean RTF is better for sending around to other parties should they need it.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 24, 2012 7:48 AM   in reply to r-j-f

    We have just been having a similar problem where upon import of a docx file from Word, hyphens disappeared in InDesign CS5.5 and 6 and the word imported as closed (like your Britishborn issue). Our file only did it on some hyphens and not others (but was consistent on which ones it dropped every time), but we had some files where every single one dropped out and we couldn't figure out why. In the end, we checked the Word file with the hidden characters displayed and noticed the hyphens that disappeared had a longer hidden character (maybe the symbol for discretionary hyphen) and appeared different than the ones that didn't disappear. Our quick fix was to open the file in Word, do a find and replace and put a hyphen in both fields. When we replaced all the "hyphens" with regular hyphens, the disappearing ones changed to regular hyphens and it fixed our issue (and they appeared normal using hidden character view). Saving the docx file as an rtf file and importing that into InDesign also worked for us, but if that wasn't working for you perhaps the find and replace hyphens in Word will. Good luck!

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