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How to Import InDesign Templates to Affinity Publisher

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Ready to jump into Affinity Publisher after a long time of Adobe InDesign use? Well, there's no need to hesitate, as Affinity Publisher can import InDesign IDML files as of the Affinity 1.8 update. This is an amazing addition, especially if you have a substantial body of work that you've developed in Adobe InDesign and want to move it from InDesign to Affinity Publisher.

And, thankfully, the process is super user-friendly! 

Affinity Publisher IDML filesAffinity Publisher IDML filesAffinity Publisher IDML files

What You Will Learn in This Affinity Publisher Tutorial

  • How to export IDML files in Adobe InDesign
  • How to import IDML files in Affinity Publisher
  • How to use IDML files in Affinity Publisher 

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

Tutorial Assets

To complete this tutorial, you will need:

We'll be using this InDesign Resume Template in this walkthrough to illustrate Affinity Publisher InDesign import via IDML files. Use it along with me, or work with a document of your own.

InDesign Template ResumeInDesign Template ResumeInDesign Template Resume
Many of the Adobe InDesign templates over on Envato Elements, like this one, also include IDML files—making them Affinity Publisher friendly!

1. How to Save InDesign Files for Import Into Affinity Publisher

Step 1

Before we go straight from InDesign to Affinity Publisher, let's talk a little bit about what an IDML file is, in this context. 

By default, Adobe InDesign tends to save as an INDD file—this is an InDesign native file, much like Photoshop has its PSDs. Even when I plan to export as a different file type, I tend to save my work as an INDD file, just as a backup. When looking at Affinity Publisher, INDD files aren't going to work out.

An IDML file, on the other hand, is a file type that permits more diverse usage. For example, if I designed a document in InDesign CC, I could export my work as an IDML file, and then open it in InDesign CS4—something I could not do without issues with an INDD file. 

Think of it as a file type designed to allow you to work with InDesign documents using external tools. This can be more convenient than Affinity Publisher edit PDF methods, too.


Step 2

There are two ways we can save an Adobe InDesign document as an IDML file. 

First, make sure you have an Adobe InDesign document open. For this example, we'll use a resume template design that I created in Adobe InDesign. You can download it here, on Envato Elements, if you'd like to use it along with me—or feel free to use an InDesign document of your own.

You can do so by going to File > Open, and then selecting a file on your computer. Then, with your file open, go to File > Export.

Export IDML InDesignExport IDML InDesignExport IDML InDesign

Step 3

Then, you should be prompted to give your exported file a name and to select the file type you'd like to export as. 

Click on the dropdown next to Save As Type, and select IDML.

Once you've given your file a name and selected IDML as the file type, click Save to export your file.

Save IDML InDesignSave IDML InDesignSave IDML InDesign

Step 4

The other method is straightforward too. Again, make sure you have an Adobe InDesign document open, before you attempt to export to IDML.

With your document open, go to File > Save As

Note, this process also works by going to File > Save a Copy.

Save As InDesign IDMLSave As InDesign IDMLSave As InDesign IDML

Step 5

The resulting dialog box should look familiar. Again, give your exported file a name.

Then, again, turn to Save as Type and choose InDesign CS4 or Later (IDML) from the list of options.

Click Save to save a copy of your work as this new file type.

Save As IDML InDesignSave As IDML InDesignSave As IDML InDesign

2. How to Import InDesign Files Into Affinity Publisher

Step 1

At this point, you should have an IDML file of your desired InDesign document—this is important, as this is the file we're going to open up in Affinity Publisher.

Open up Affinity Publisher, and go to File > Open.

Import IDML Affinity PublisherImport IDML Affinity PublisherImport IDML Affinity Publisher

Step 2

Next, navigate to the IDML file that you saved/exported earlier in this tutorial. Select the file, and click Open to proceed.

IDML Affinity PublisherIDML Affinity PublisherIDML Affinity Publisher

Step 3

Now, our InDesign document is open in Affinity Publisher. Easy, right? Not only is it easy, but it's easy to jump right in and edit or continue your design work from InDesign right here in Publisher.

One note here—Affinity Publisher does not currently support IDML export. So that means that, once you start working here in Publisher, you'll need to save your work as an APUB file (Affinity Publisher's native file type). This won't be Adobe InDesign friendly.

APUB Affinity PublisherAPUB Affinity PublisherAPUB Affinity Publisher

3. How to Use IDML Files in Affinity Publisher

Step 1

So, now that you've taken your work from Adobe InDesign to Affinity Publisher, where do you get started? 

You'll notice that the interface in Publisher is pretty similar, but there are some differences too. Let's take a look at a few quick tips to help you get comfortable in this new environment.

First, you can customize your view by going to View, at the top of the application. You'll want to go here to do things like toggling your guides on and off.

Affinity Publisher GuidesAffinity Publisher GuidesAffinity Publisher Guides

Step 2

Affinity Publisher has a Pages panel too, where you can view your pages and your master pages. If you don't see this window, go to View > Studio > Pages. Once you've got this panel open, you can easily click between your document's available pages. 

As a side tip here—many familiar panels are located in View > Studio, such as your swatches, the Character panel, and other familiar faces. Make sure to give this space a thorough look.

Affinity Publisher StudioAffinity Publisher StudioAffinity Publisher Studio

Step 3

Next, let's make some edits. First, select the Frame Text Tool. You can find it in your Tools panel, as highlighted below.

If you don't see your tools, go to View > Show Tools to make them visible.

Affinity Publisher Show ToolsAffinity Publisher Show ToolsAffinity Publisher Show Tools

Step 4

With the Frame Text Tool selected, simply select the type in your document, and start editing! The process is really similar to working in InDesign. 

You can also use the Frame Text Tool to click and drag to create a new text box. This, too, should be familiar from InDesign.

Affinity Publisher Frame Text ToolAffinity Publisher Frame Text ToolAffinity Publisher Frame Text Tool

Step 5

Let's place an external image into our template document, too.

Go to File > Place to begin.

Affinity Publisher Place ImagesAffinity Publisher Place ImagesAffinity Publisher Place Images

Step 6

Make sure to define which files Publisher is viewing when the navigation window opens here. You may not see the image file you'd like to place, by default—unless this is specified, as shown below. I chose All Documents, so I could see all of my files when selecting what I'd like to place.

Select the image (or file) you would like to paste into your document, and then click OK

Affinity Publisher PhotoAffinity Publisher PhotoAffinity Publisher Photo

Step 7

Then, click and drag to place your newly imported image—it's as easy as that!

Affinity Publisher Resize ImageAffinity Publisher Resize ImageAffinity Publisher Resize Image

And There You Have It!

Now, you know how to export an IDML file in Adobe InDesign and then open it up in Affinity Publisher! Again, you'll notice that the two programs have a lot in common—although they do have their differences. As a long-time Adobe InDesign user, I can say that IDML import has definitely put Affinity Publisher more on my radar than ever before. Personally, I prefer it over the Affinity Publisher PDF importing process. 

This also means there are a lot more Affinity Publisher templates out there we can try out, too! If you're looking for Affinity Publisher newsletter templates, an Affinity Publisher brochure, or even just general Affinity Publisher templates to download, keep an eye out for IDML files.

Curious about Affinity Publisher vs. InDesign? How about Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer? Check out these Affinity Publisher tutorials, and other Affinity content:

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