International IDEA

International organisation significantly reduced production time, eliminated outsourcing, and took back control of its designs with Typefi publishing automation software.

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organisation with a mandate to support democracy worldwide. Founded in 1995, the organisation is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden with regional offices across the globe.

International IDEA provides expertise and information to countries around the world. The organisation focuses on topics including political participation and elections, political parties, money in politics, and constitution building.

International IDEA produces roughly 100 publications per year on these topics. The organisation’s most common publications are research reports, technical papers, fact sheets, policy briefs, and training materials.

Shifting from print to digital production

Prior to 2016, International IDEA was focused primarily on producing publications for print. The organisation had a very traditional publishing workflow.

Authors, including staff at International IDEA and consultants, created content in Microsoft Word. The publications team created layout templates using Adobe InDesign. All the typesetting was outsourced, a process that could take 2-4 weeks to complete.

Print-ready PDFs were created using the completed InDesign files received from the typesetter. The PDFs were sent out for printing, and thousands of copies of each document were stored in a large warehouse for distribution.

Then in 2016, International IDEA decided to shift from print-focused production to digital. At this point, the organisation began searching for an automated publishing system to help streamline the production process.

The challenge: Speeding up production and maintaining design flexibility

International IDEA initially selected a publishing automation software called Booktype. The software was affordable, web-based, and optimised for automated PDF publishing. However, there were some major drawbacks.

The biggest problem with Booktype was the inflexible template system. Templates were created in Adobe InDesign and sent to Booktype to be built in their own system. This meant that the publications team at International IDEA couldn’t make edits to the styles or layouts in their templates—only Booktype could edit the designs, and there was a cost associated with this.

Booktype was also relatively small with just a handful of customers and a tiny support department. The technical support offered by the company was slow, and International IDEA often had to wait days to have issues resolved. Additionally, Booktype could only produce PDFs, which limited future publication opportunities.

Then in 2017, the developer behind Booktype ceased all support for the software. International IDEA was again left searching for a publishing automation tool. This time, the team selected Typefi.

The solution: Automated publishing with Adobe InDesign and Typefi

International IDEA began using Typefi automated publishing software in 2021. The publications team now has full control over its designs and the production process has been streamlined tremendously.

Authors still write content in Microsoft Word. The Typefi Writer add-in is now used to prepare Word files for automatic publishing with Typefi.

The publications team still uses InDesign to create templates for layout and style. With a library of existing templates, it was easy to get started with Typefi.

Templates are now prepared for Typefi automated publishing using the Typefi Designer plug-in. Templates only need to be updated once for use with Typefi and can be reused. The team at International IDEA also has full control over the designs.

“What I love about Typefi is that it allows me to add styles and edit our designs really easily,” said Lisa Hagman, Publications Manager at International IDEA. “The time savings are fantastic and there is great support from the Typefi Professional Services team.”

To produce a publication using the Typefi system, International IDEA uploads a Word file, selects an InDesign template, and runs the job with a single click. If a design needs to be adjusted, the publications team can update the InDesign template and run the job again within minutes.

Full control over designs and significantly faster production

International IDEA produces roughly 100 publications per year. About 80% are now created using Typefi publishing automation software, which has reduced production time by an average of 2-4 weeks per publication.

Typefi enabled the International IDEA publications team to take full control over their designs. Templates are built in-house using Adobe InDesign, and the publications team can now edit the templates themselves if any design changes are needed.

Typefi also enabled International IDEA to adapt to changing demands. International IDEA primarily uses Typefi automated publishing software to create digital PDFs, but print-ready PDFs can be produced automatically too without extra effort.

Typefi has the flexibility to output a large number of other formats as well, including HTML and XML, which International IDEA is exploring for future projects.

“For International IDEA, the biggest benefits of Typefi are time savings and having full control over the design and layout process,” Lisa said. “We can produce publications within minutes and quickly make edits ourselves if needed.”

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