Formatting Options with Data Merge

New Here ,
Jun 18, 2019 Jun 18, 2019

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Hi! I'm currently working on a catalog of products and their information, which is split into specific categories. I have an example CSV file / spreadsheet that carries all the information for each of the products:

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 3.51.54 PM.png

I have a few questions about how I can display this data. The way I understand Data Merge to work is that it goes down the CSV file one row at a time. Therefore, when I have a break of one cell, it chooses to display an empty graphic in the Multiple Records Merged Document.

First, I'd like to know if there is an option to have a page break in the middle of a set of data.

Second, I'd like to be able to insert headings and subheadings before the start of each category's set.

Third, I'd like to be able to skip over a product if I don't want to show it in the catalogue.

Below is how I would like the document to for those few lines that are outlined in the big red box:

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 3.51.25 PM.png

As you can see, rather than display a blank graphic, data merge would insert a page break where noted, place a graphic for the Heading and place a different graphic for a Subheading, and skip over the lines that I don't want to show. Are these things possible? I'm new to Data Merge so I don't know if this is within the capabilities of the platform. I also am not sure if this is better done (or even possible at all) with scripting.

I would really appreciate any feedback and help on this! Thank you so much! !

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 27, 2019 Jun 27, 2019

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Phew ! It's a nice setup you're trying to build 🙂

And it might just work with a two-step approach.

InDesign doesn't offer any conditional formatting upon importing text or generating content with data merge. At best, it just interprets styles. The only feature which can define very precise conditions (and act upon it) is GREP. Using textual indicators in your data like "do-show" or "no-show" and "heading" or "subhead", you can let GREP search for these indicators, and apply Cell and Paragraph Styles to those texts, including settings like "Start on next page". And items/rows/paragraphs can disappear by letting GREP delete (actually Find/Replace) the whole paragraph by searching for the indicator.

However, there are challenges in this approach.

How to switch from products to headings and let headings span across the whole text box ? It's an available Paragraph setting, but then the base for the layout needs to be a multi-column text frame, carefully measured to have this image as an anchored element in the text flow. And those color backgrounds and boxes can be achieved with Paragraph Shading and Borders. Or are you willing to dig into Object Styles ?

So it will take quite some tinkering and tweaking to get it all up and running, but it all seems feasible to me. Though it won't be very flexible when you want to vary your layout afterwards...

InDesign is not intended to deal with this kind of catalogue automation.

When you're serious about it, then consider using Adobe FrameMaker.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 27, 2019 Jun 27, 2019

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…InDesign is not intended to deal with this kind of catalogue automation.

When you're serious about it, then consider using Adobe FrameMaker.

Hi Peter,

oh, it is. InDesign basically can deal with catalog automation.

But that would require scripting. Either the desktop version or InDesign Server.

Not to forget 3rd-party plugins like EasyCatalog.

Regards,
Uwe

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 27, 2019 Jun 27, 2019

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I already doubted whether to mention scripts and plugins or just restrict myself to a solution based on the Data Merge feature. But I'm glad you added them to the consideration. 🙂

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 01, 2019 Jul 01, 2019

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My $0.02:

Data Merge is great for Microsoft Word style mail merges that are one record (not one field, but one record - a row of fields) to one page or one record to many pages, but not so great for many records to one or many pages, such as a catalogue.

I agree with Uwe that InDesign can certainly create catalogues using its other automation features such as XML or third party plug-ins such as:

  • 65 Bit Software: EasyCatalog;
  • Cacidi Extreme;
  • Em Software: Incatalog;
  • Meadows Publishing Software: Designmerge;
  • Teacup Software: Datalinker;

A full list of plug-ins is available here: InDesign plug-ins, free third-party plug-ins

It is possible to create your own XML solution, but from personal experience I've found the learning curve steep (but not impossible): There are courses on LinkedIn Learning that focus on this, but a resource I use and recommend was a book by Jim Maivald - a Designer's Guide to Adobe InDesign and XML (ISBN 9780321503558)

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 30, 2020 Dec 30, 2020

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My 2 cents to Colin's 2 cents (4 cents?)...

I'm a big fan of Em Software InData. (Similar to InCatalog but does not use a live connection to a database, It uses an Excel, CSV, or tab-delimited file--plus it is less costly.)

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Explorer ,
Dec 30, 2020 Dec 30, 2020

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Any idea how put a word in Bold or, simple "return to the line" ?

Data Merging is really powerful, but simple tasks look like a pain in the A.

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Explorer ,
Dec 30, 2020 Dec 30, 2020

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(Cant edit on this forum, dont know why...)

Okay, GREP with Paragraph Styles and Character Styles, it works for the Bold.
I'm now looking for a "Return to the line" fonction inside GREP ^_^.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 31, 2020 Dec 31, 2020

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Hi Nemesis666first,

you could include a unique sequence of characters and in a second step after the merge is done do a Find/Replace that sequence to a return or a line break.

 

Regards,
Uwe Laubender

( ACP )

 

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Explorer ,
Jan 01, 2021 Jan 01, 2021

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Find & Replace is a one time action, no ?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 02, 2021 Jan 02, 2021

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Find/Change can be done over all open InDesign documents.

If that is what you asked.

See:

https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/user-guide.html/indesign/using/find-change.ug.html

 

Regards,
Uwe Laubender

( ACP )

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