There are at least two separate issues here. You may need to check the "Import Options" box upon placing your Word file to tell it to keep stuff like section breaks. If you've not looked at it, it's a useful dialog (including mapping Word styles to InDesign styles).
Long story short, you will have to perform some hygiene in Word before importing anything. I don't know if using ID is worth your time, because I don't know why you're placing this Word doc into InDesign in the first place, but placing long Word docs with heavy formatting into ID is the kind of task that will probably not be easy for someone without plenty of practice. There are many kinds of potential problem. I've been placing Word translations into InDesign for (eek) something like a decade now, and I'm still learning tricks and duct-tape solutions and VBA workarounds. It's deeper than it looks.
(99% of the problems in this kind of workflow are inherent in the structure of Word files. The only way to avoid them is to severely restrict the varieties of formatting techniques used in the Word document.)
It is never a good idea to use Word formatting in InDesign. Both are completely different programms with a different focus. YOu should set up your formatting styles completely in InDesign and forget every formatting from Word.
Best practice is to use styles in Word, their formatting doesN#t matter, only their names are important. Don't use section brakes, footers, headers, text frames. Set up the styles in InDesign and you can import Word text files with limitted problems only.
But Willi, it happens all the time that someone starts a long-document project in Word which must then be transferred to InDesign at some later point. You're exactly right when it comes to "best practices," but what do you do when you're not in the best situation?
The cleanest InDesign file in a workflow like this one, I'll be happy to admit, is one in which all Word formatting is stripped at import. Sometimes a Word file is so bad that I save out raw text from Word and place that, re-applying formatting as I go. On the other hand, it happens all the time that I create styles in InDesign, export RTF, let my translators work in Word on those RTFs, and then re-import the translated RTF files, stripping Word garbage out at the import stage.
But Michael's question was obviously not about InDesign best practices. He's trying to figure out if it is worth his time to fix the Word garbage in InDesign. Espcially in the case of losing nonbreaking hyphens and spaces, it's a terrible idea to throw away all Word formatting and start fresh in ID. Careful preparation in Word followed by careful import - which will allow you to toss some garbage formatting and keep some, er, non-garbage reusable stuff that originated in Word - is, I think, a perfectly valid workflow.
Thanks all! Just the insight, techncial assistance, and perspectives I was looking for.
We do all our work in Word. A new group has come in and pushed us to go through them to have them take our Word document and they will move it into InDesign. This new group asserted that nonbreaking spaces, section breaks and footnotes do not come over so now the 700 of us need to change our Word practices to now support what they allege. And they are the InDesign "experts"! Sigh... I knew I didn't have the alleged issues when I was using ID CS4 but couldn't find it in ID CS6. I do see Word remants that cause 508 compliance issues down the road so we have more work to address in bad Word practices. I do see it woudl be grat to sync up Word styles names with ID styles to reduce conversion headaches.
Well, they're right about the section breaks. They have too many uses in Word, and one of those uses is "switch back and forth between one-column and two-column layout on the same page." That kind of Word-formatting needs the Will-treatment (forensic reconstruction in InDesign) because there is no way to automagically transform Word-garbage into InDesign's document-layout model.
Regarding nonbreaking spaces, they're full of it. Nonbreaking hyphens are a different story; the links I posted in my first response tell that story. A bit of pre-import hygiene in Word will save you a lot of headache in InDesign. But nonbreaking spaces? Whack control+shift+spacebar in Word, get a correctly-encoded valid-in-Unicode no-break space. It survives infinite Word -> InDesign -> Word roundtrips undamaged.
Footnotes? Hollow laugh! I usually set mine up manually, but I don't have to handle them often. There are other forums regulars who might happen by with some words of advice and/or consolation. I think your "experts" are wrong when they say don't import; they simply don't import well. It's a hassle.
Word formatting interfering with 508 compliance: Yup, it's a hassle. But you are correct in that most of the source is in bad practice within Word. If there are 700 of you, some training is in order. Carefully groomed normal.dot files (imposed from above by your IT folk) might be helpful here. You can do things like prevent local formatting by locking down the document, too.
I haven't had to import Word files for quite a few years, but I was always a little leary about importing junk along with my text also. Since Joel has the experience, I'll deferr to him on best practices, but here's one more trick to keep in the magic hat that you probably already know. If you use characters in Word that you can search for in InDesign, you can do a find/change to replace them with the kinds of things that don't survive the trip from Word to ID. You could even use something like:
Blabla bla bla bla bla bla bla***NONBREAKINGSPACE***bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla***NONBREAKINGHYPHEN***bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla***SECTIONBREAK***bla bla bla bla…
P.S. Cool name. I love it when telemarketers sound like they're having an anuerysm as they try to sound-out how my name is pronounced. I'll bet you get the same thing with yours.