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Fix Data Merge Errors in InDesign

Adobe Employee ,
Aug 21, 2020 Aug 21, 2020

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Using Data merge, you can merge a data source file (CSV or TXT) to create multiple versions of an InDesign document. It is possible that you encounter error messages in this process. See the table below for the common error messages associated with data merge and how to troubleshoot them. 

 

Error Message 

Reason 

Solution 

The data source cannot be opened. 

When the source file (exported from Microsoft Excel as a CSV or TXT file) is still open in the application.  

Close the Microsoft Excel document and try again. 

The selected data source has one or more empty field names. 

One or more field name in the header row is missing. These include blank columns as well which must have a field name. 

  • Check the source file for missing field names. 
  • Remove any blank columns. 

The data source file you selected either has no records or is not a supported file format. 

  • Importing a Microsoft Excel file instead of CSV or TXT file. 
  • Importing blank or incomplete TXT file.  

 Check the file name and save it using the format dropdown in the save dialog box.

There is a least one data placeholder that cannot be found in the data source. 

Mostly occurs when updating data sources. Common causes include: 

  • Renaming field headers 
  • Incorrect data source selection. 
  • Corrupt field name. 
  • Start a new Data Merge project. 
  • Re-link the updated data source. 
  • Check the field names and field headers.  

Not well-formed 

Two or more colons are in the field name (neither at the start or end of a field name). 

 Delete colons in field names when creating a database for a Data Merge file. 

Content contains characters that cannot be encoded. 

The data source is a PDF or Ai file that isn’t intended to be used as Data Merge database.  

Select CSV or TXT file instead. 

Generic extended parser error. 

  • The data source is an HTML file that isn’t intended to be used as a Data Merge database. 
  • There’s a colon within the field name. 
  • Select CSV or TXT file for Data Merge. 
  • Keep the colon at the start or end (or both) of the field name.  

The data source references one or more missing images. 

Referenced links in the image fields of the data source are missing.  

Fix the links in the Data source and then update the data source.  

Import failing without any error message. 

  • The first line of the file has no value. 
  • Mismatch in fields of the header rows and database rows.  
  • Add a header row with field names. 
  • Update missing field names 

 

Thanks to our ACP, Colin Flashman who had authored this information on indesignsecrets.com where you can find more information. 

If these solutions do not help and you need more assistance, reply to this post providing details of the Error Message and the procedures you performed before it. We will do our best to help. 

TOPICS
How to , Import and export , Performance

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Community Expert ,
Aug 23, 2020 Aug 23, 2020

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Thank you so much for this important post!

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Guide ,
Aug 23, 2020 Aug 23, 2020

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Adobe Employee ,
Aug 23, 2020 Aug 23, 2020

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Hi Colin,

 

I'd seen your post on InDesign secrets and I completely liked the way you've collated the information there and I wrote a similar post in Adobe community because we did not have any dedicated help article for the same.

 

Regards,

Sheena

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New Here ,
Sep 28, 2022 Sep 28, 2022

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Make sure your file is CSV not CSV UTF-8.

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New Here ,
Jul 21, 2021 Jul 21, 2021

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You are just repeating the obvious answers, but not offering any real solutions. Typical of adobe

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 27, 2022 Oct 27, 2022

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No they're not repeating the obvious answers. This post was vital for me yesterday when tracking down a data merge issue.

I for one am very grateful for the post.

 

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Community Beginner ,
Aug 27, 2021 Aug 27, 2021

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Getting this error when trying to Merge Data: One or more of the records specified are not valid record numbers.

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Community Expert ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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Hard to know from the description.

Sometimes might happen if there's a blank header row.

You could try resetting your header rows text and resaving to CSV.

 

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Community Expert ,
Aug 31, 2021 Aug 31, 2021

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You must have chosen a range of records to merge that goes beyond the number of records contained in your data source. I just did a quick test on the base docuemnt of a merge I did last week. The full merge ran without a hitch at the time.

In this case, the data contains 68 records, so for my test I asked for a range that goes beyond the end of the record set.

Screen Shot 2021-08-31 at 12.25.04 PM.png

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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I'm trying to export a PDF form data to be used with Data Merge/Indesign. The CSV file gets corupted. The header breaks and goes down to the next row.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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It's hard to be sure without seeing your actual data, but I know that will happen if there are any kind of hard or soft returns inside the cell. 

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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I would like to but how do you attach excel, csv and txt docs here?

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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Nevermind, here are the files.

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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You were right. There was a hard return and the end of text inside "description" field.

 

How do prevent that from happening?

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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Here is the form.

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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Thanks!

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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Make sure your CSV doesn't use the word "table" as a column header... the file won't merge if you do. Just a tip that took me forever to figure out.

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New Here ,
Nov 10, 2021 Nov 10, 2021

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Thanks!

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New Here ,
Jun 08, 2022 Jun 08, 2022

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OH MY GOSH. This just saved me. I had no idea.

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New Here ,
Nov 15, 2021 Nov 15, 2021

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Anyone encounter a error with your paragraph styles in Data Merge when you specify a style then it changes to another after Preview? I set it to one style then it changes to another style (the previous style) after I preview.

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Community Expert ,
Nov 15, 2021 Nov 15, 2021

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If you feel you must preview, you should immediately "Undo" after and then do the merge. Preview is buggy, and once the file is damaged it generally needs to be rebuilt from scratch.

 

That said, it's possible that your styles may be affected by the option to Remove Blank Lines in combination with a "next style" designation in a style definition, or possibly even without that next style designation.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 19, 2021 Nov 19, 2021

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Hi there: I keep getting: "There is a least one data placeholder that cannot be found in the data source. "
I have followed:

  • start a new Data Merge project. 
  • Re-link the updated data source. 
  • Check the field names and field headers

 

Still nothing works - any help would be amazing.

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Nov 19, 2021 Nov 19, 2021

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This type of error can indicate some sort of break character or other special character in one of the header fields.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 19, 2021 Nov 19, 2021

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Yeah, removed special chracters early on - and no breaks. Started froms cratch - same reuslt.

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