End of August I saw the first advert to book for Company Christmas party. With Christmas looming (well… almost) around the corner, planning Christmas parties and sending out Christmas cards is moving up on the ‘to do’ list. A nice touch would be to personalise your company Christmas cards and/or party invitations.
Personlise your prints, such as company Christmas cards and party invitations with Data Merge in Adobe® InDesign®. Data Merge is the ability to create fields (name, surname, message) in your Adobe® InDesign® document. It can automatically populate from comma-separated values (.csv) or a tab-delimited (.txt) file. The easiest would be to create these fields as columns in Microsoft® Excel and then save the file in .csv format. These files can also reference the paths to images and logos so that the images and/or logos change too.
In this post I am using an example of golf score cards. All the teams that were taking part in the tournament had their own names on each card. I will explain this process in more detail in 9 simple steps.
Create a Merged Document in 9 Simple Steps
Step 1: Create your Data Source
Decide on the fields (headings) that your document is going to need, such as “Name,” “Location,” and “Picture”. In this example I need 4 names. The easiest is to use a program like Excel or Excel Mac. In Excel I created a document that has the headings “Player 1”, “Player 2”, “Player 3” and “Player 4” across the top. These are the 4 players in each golf team (with their handicap in brackets). The rows below contain the records of all the players for each team. If each team decided to have their own emblem, I could just add and extra column after “Player 4” called “picture” for example. The exact path to each image on the computer need to go in the rows of the “picture” column. Take note that it is case sensitive. Example: Mac HD:Emblems:Team1.jpg (PC: c:EmblemsTeam1.jpg). When everything is in place, save the file with a .csv extension (find the option in the dropdown menu under the file’s name in the Save As window).
Step 2: Open the File in a Text Editor
I am not sure why, but even if you do not use images I find this step necessary to make the .csv file work in InDesign. Make sure you first close Excel. Open the new saved .csv file in TextEdit on Mac or Notepad on PC and save it again with the same .csv extension. If you have a column for images, add “@” before the word “picture” (@picture) and save the file. Excel won’t allow this as it thinks you’re trying to create a function.
Step 3: Create Text and Image Frames in InDesign
I created a score card for the golf day in InDesign. I made 4 text frames with the Type tool (T) for the 4 Players’ names. If you want to add an image, use the Rectangle Frame tool (F) to create an image frame for the picture that you want to merge.
Step 4: Display the Data Merge Palette
Open the Data Merge palette, which is located under the Window > Automation menu of InDesign CS2 and CS3. What’s nice about this palette is that it contains the next three steps directly on the palette.
Step 5: Choose your CSV File
Choose Select Data Source from the Data Merge Palette’s flyout menu. Select the .csv file that was created and saved in Step 1 and Step 2. The palette populate with the fields that was assigned to the .csv file. If there is a Picture field, an icon of an image will show to the left to indicate that the “@” symbol is placed successfully in front of the word “picture” in the .csv file.
Step 6: Assign the Proper Fields and Stylize
With the Selection tool (V), select one of the frames created in Step 3. Click on the assigned field in the Data Merge palette to link them. Repeat for each frame. This will put the field name in the frames. You can stylize the text using any fonts, colours or style sheets. Keep the font size in mind for the longest text from the data file to fit in the text box.
Step 7: Preview the Data Files
Test it to see if it works by clicking the Preview checkbox at the bottom of the Data Merge palette. This will show you the first record in your data file in the frames that you assigned the fields to. You can page through the records using the right and left arrow buttons at the bottom of the Data Merge palette.
Step 8: Fill the Frames Proportionally
The images size proportionally to fit in the Image Frame. If you want to override this control, choose Content Placement Options from the Data Merge palette menu. From this dialog you can choose InDesign’s new Fitting command Fill Frames Proportionally and this will make sure that the image fills the entire frame.
Step 9: Generate the Merged Document
Click the Create Merged Document icon on the bottom right of the Data Merge palette or choose the Create Merged Document command from the Data Merge palette’s flyout menu. This will generate a new document with each one of your records on a different page. At the end of the merge a window pop up to notify if any of the text was over set. If so, it also indicates page.
The artwork will be printed digitally (for technical details why, read my blog post about Litho vs. Digital Printing). If you do not have Adobe® InDesign®, have limited time or looking for a great design for your invites, cards or anything else that can be personalised, do not panic. Printhouse Corporation can design the card, take care of the data merge and printing.