Template Design - Importing DOCX files


The purpose of this article is intended to help you decide when to use the Import feature to generate templates based on an imported DOCX file, and when to design the template from scratch. It should cover:

  • How to import a file
  • Known Limitations
  • Recommendations - when to import a DOCX file and when to design a template fresh from the start.

How to import a file

When working with the Ecrion Design Studio Publisher, you will notice one of the features provided is the "Import" option, which allows you to use other files as starting point for your template design process. The following file types can be imported in the Publisher: DOCX, PDF, HTML, FO, XSL or InDesign files.

To access this functionality, open the Publisher, go to the File tab and select the "Import" button:


Note: A warning message will be displayed when using this feature, because the imported content may require significant design work in order to replicate the original document's look and feel, due to differences in standards and technology.

Known Limitations

Any time when talking about importing from one format to another, limitations will show up, and importing Word is no different. Limitations are caused by how Word and Publisher treat things differently, for example the pagination, the font metrics or the nesting structure of objects. Below is a list of unsupported items for the Import feature for Word files:

  • Shapes
  • Grouping shapes and other graphics
  • Some text wrappings around shapes or images (square, tight, through, top and bottom)
  • Smart Art
  • Charts
  • Screenshots
  • Fields and field instructions

In addition, please note that importing word documents and then exporting back to word is not a supported workflow, because the first transformation (Word to Publisher) adds a lot of complexity to the template in order to maintain fidelity with the original document. This fidelity can be maintained at this point for print ready output (PDF,PS etc.), but when rendered to an editable format it’s almost impossible to reconstruct the original editable features.


While we do support bringing some content from Word, it should be used for import of fairly simple content, or for content that doesn’t have to be mixed with dynamic fields. The Publisher will try to be as accurate as possible, but in order to do so, it has to create a very complicated structure, and that is not what you want when creating dynamic templates.

Importing Word should be looked at as an advanced feature because it adds a lot of complexity to the template in order to replicate Word behavior, as explained above.

Our tools in general empower people through the easy to use interface and collaboration capabilities, and our recommendation is to always build a template from scratch, at least in the beginning when good practices must be learned. To read more about best template design practices, please click here.


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