InDesign: Synchronizing and combining documents
I have two primary needs:
- Build several documents with the same layout/styling
- Combine those separate ones into a single document
For the first point I've discovered (I'm learning InDesign as I go) the usage of templates, which I have successfully implemented so far.
For the second point I have two questions.
1. How do I merge the documents into one
Here's what I do: I placed some elements (like page numbering) on separate layers in my template. I create my "full" document and import the other documents into it, skipping the layers I'm not interesting in, like page numbering. This way I have correct page numbering in my separate documents and in the full document.
Is this a good practice?
2. How do I update the templates afterwards
What if I need to change my template afterwards? As far as I understand, once you created a document from a template, it is actually not linked to it.
Is it possible to reflect changes from the template into documents created from it?
Have you looked into the books feature? I'm not aware of any reason to manually combine sections of a book. An InD "book" is essentially a group of unique documents that are tagged in a separate book file that drives a panel. From there you can associate the documents in a certain order, flow page numbering from one to another (and alter it with section starts and ends), and synchronize styles and master pages.
Here's a few resources to get you started.
Creating a book using InDesign (on GD.SE)
To answer your specific questions ...
#1: As I said, you can merge them with the book feature. You can also (cringe) place each page into another document like a linked image.
#2: You will have occasion to make proper use of templates. When those need updating, you simply open it (you'll end up with a fresh "Document 1"), make your changes, then save it as an template over the original. It's not linked to anything so you won't update existing documents. You could, however, load style changes from it in those existing docs.