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I have a very old hard copy document that has Hebrew and English mixed in the same paragraph. I scanned the document with a trial version of Abbyy Finereader and now have a Microsoft Word document for some of the text. The Hebrew appears correctly in the Word document, but when I edit it, the direction messes up.
If I paste the Word document into Indesign, will I be able to edit both the Hebrew and the English? I don't want to purchase Abbyy FineReader or Indesign until I'm sure that they will work together.
Well, if the Word documents are well-formed, then you will be able to edit both Hebrew and English in the Middle East edition of InDesign.
But that is a pretty big if. Abbyy makes some pretty great OCR software but you can't expect it to work miracles. Seeing as the direction messes up in Word when you try to edit, you probably need some kind of text hygiene stage in between Word and InDesign. The appropriate language and text direction settings need to be applied to the Hebrew text. In the language industry, we typically do this with humans; It's astoundingly difficult to automate that task away. Before you buy anything from Abbyy, you should put this question to them and see what they say.
There are some simple tricks in InDesign that will lighten the load (e.g. making a character style with all of your necessary Hebrew typesetting instructions, then applying it to all Hebrew text in the document with a GREP query) but someone is going to have to look at every Hebrew string, but highlighting each one with the mouse and changing it manually would be wholly unnecessary.
So, if you are willing to learn some intermediate-to-advanced text manipulation tools in Word and InDesign, you can totally do this.
Thanks so much, Joel--your reply is incredibly helpful. It's way above my comfort zone, but I'm going to try.
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If you can share a sample of your bilingual Word file, I will happily make a tutorial for you. You can PM me for an email address, or you can put it up on Dropbox and post the link here.
Usually we work with Hebrew and Arabic as well as adding in English phrases. For us, Hebrew text is dropped into the file via pdf or word, text is right aligned, Arial/Arial Unicode is used and world ready is turned on to the appropriate setting.
English text/numbers are typically placed in a separate text box and placed next to the appropriate Hebrew phrase to prevent text from being shifted around. Thankfully, we don't do 600 pages of Hebrew, just several lines.