What is the easiest way to format entry blocks of a directory? I have a very long directory of names and contact information (about 10,000) that have a very specific format for the the lines within each entry. There are about 6-10 lines per entry depending on the data given. The original data is in a spreadsheet. I have it set up as 4 columns per page in an ongoing text flow from page to page. I've been using paragraph styles but that also is taking forever.
It would help to see an example of the data as it looks when imported with invisible characters showing as well as a few examples of how you want it to look formatted.
If you intend to display it as a table you can create paragraph styles for the text formatting and cell styles for the cell formatting. Then select entire columns and apple paragraph styles or cell styles to the entire selection. Unfortunately table styles are very limited and mostly useless.
If you intent to display the data as text then using paragraph styles along with the Next Style attribute can let you format entire chunks of data automatically.
I'd suggest that the easiest way would be to use a third-party plug-in to automate processing all that data. I've worked with InData to do directory/catalog work before, and got good results with a minimum of blood, sweat and tears. Among other things that'll make your life much easier for this kind of job, it'll let you set up formatting templates for each entry, so you'll only have to apply the styles once in the template and apply it automatically about 10,000 times when you port the output into InDesign.
For $400 a seat, it'll save you at least twice as much heartache. If you're contracting for this project, build it into your retainer. It'll be a lot cheaper than physical therapy.
Hope this helps,
Another vote for InData. It does have a cost to it, and takes some careful configuraton (not to mention a well-massaged data file before you even import), but it paid for itself for me the first day on my first project using it. It will import what you want, format the text accordingly, weed out blank entries, etc, etc. InData isn't the only one out there, but after doing demos of a few, it was the one I selected and it works great.
I can help on this.