4 Replies Latest reply on Aug 2, 2013 10:53 PM by MW Design

    Creating documents with variable text fields

    highliner898

      Hello,

       

      I am wondering if it is possible to create a document (in InDesign or other) whereby you can have variable fields (client data) that can easily be inserted throughout. 

       

      Here is what I am trying to do.  In my business I have my clients to answer a questionnaire.  Their answers are then used to create a document that contains their personal info and questionnaire answers throughout the document along with other generic (non-personal) info such as our business process etc.  We use this as a means to document our relationship together and each parties roles and responsibilities. 

       

      Currently, I am using Microsoft Word with form fields.  However, it's not very easy to use.  And when the text is inserted, it doesn't insert it inline (does not move the other non-varialbe text around it), so it doesn't look that pretty.  And don't even get me started about the design capabilities of Word.

       

      I am sure that there must be a tool out there to accomplish what I am trying to do.

       

      In my document I want the following:

       

      - Client's name and address.

      - each answer to their questionnaire.  (there are 4 or 5 possible asnwers for each question).

       

      If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would be forever greatful.

       

      Thanks.

        • 1. Re: Creating documents with variable text fields
          MW Design Level 4

          Personally, I would keep that data in a database. Then just create reports with the dB itself. If I needed it to look nice (i.e., inside of ID) then I would export the record as a CSV and do a merge in ID.

           

          Mike

          • 2. Re: Creating documents with variable text fields
            peter minneapolis Level 4

            highliner898 wrote:

             

            Hello,

             

            I am wondering if it is possible to create a document (in InDesign or other) whereby you can have variable fields (client data) that can easily be inserted throughout. 

             

            Here is what I am trying to do.  In my business I have my clients to answer a questionnaire.  Their answers are then used to create a document that contains their personal info and questionnaire answers throughout the document along with other generic (non-personal) info such as our business process etc.  We use this as a means to document our relationship together and each parties roles and responsibilities. 

             

            Currently, I am using Microsoft Word with form fields.  However, it's not very easy to use.  And when the text is inserted, it doesn't insert it inline (does not move the other non-varialbe text around it), so it doesn't look that pretty.  And don't even get me started about the design capabilities of Word.

             

            I am sure that there must be a tool out there to accomplish what I am trying to do.

             

            In my document I want the following:

             

            - Client's name and address.

            - each answer to their questionnaire.  (there are 4 or 5 possible asnwers for each question).

             

            If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would be forever greatful.

             

            Thanks.

            Full Acrobat can do this. It's not automatic. You'll need to design an Acrobat form to collect input from customers, that they can fill in in Reader.. You can design the form in InDesign. There are various ways to have the form send the collected input back to you - the whole form can be attached to an email, or just the data can be sent back. With full Acrobat, you can "pull' the collected data into specified field areas in a different Acrobat form, that also contains your choices of data chunks from your own collection of information.

             

            I suggest you post your request on the Acrobat forum where the folks who live and breathe this stuff all the time can offer good ideas. Also, search Google for terms like "collecting data with acrobat forms," and "creating acrobat forms with InDesign," without quotes, for more info.

             

             

            HTH

             

             

            Regards,

             

             

            Peter

            _______________________

            Peter Gold

            KnowHow ProServices

            • 3. Re: Creating documents with variable text fields
              highliner898 Level 1

              Thank you MW Design,

               

              Are you aware of any helpful documentation on how to set up the ID document to accept merged data?  That sounds like it might be a good solution. 

               

              Thanks.

              • 4. Re: Creating documents with variable text fields
                MW Design Level 4

                Documentation is floating around on the internet--and in the help files under data merge.

                 

                It is pretty simple, though. From the database, whether it is something dedicated like MS Access, or as simple as a spreadsheet, what you need to export is either a CSV file (I use tab delimited the most) or an XML file, it is relatively simple to get the data into ID.

                 

                The procedures vary how to do a datamerge or an XML import. Which should be used is the main question. Without seeing what y'all are collecting as regards information nor what you expect insofar as the ID output, a guess would be the CSV being a likely scenario.

                 

                For datamerge, start with the help system. If you want to make up a dummy dataset and a representitive layout with greeked "static" text, I or someone else here would be able to help you get started. And if you get stuck, someone usually come's round often that can help.

                 

                Mike