You can do this just like you were making address labels.
I think you would be better off to Find/Replace all returns, except the last one, inside each info section with a tab and then move everything over to excel.
Then each category of your label would be in a column (tab) and each section of the data would be a line.
Add headers for each category in the top line.
Use CSV tab delimited and save. (Keep the original Excel file).
Data merge likes paragraph breaks in fact but only to devide the data sections.
I've never encountered a problem with an apostrophe or an en-dash in a data merge, and I suspect that the problem is really "extra" encodings that Word is inserting into the file. Have you looked at one of these CSV files in a plain text editor to see if there are odd characters in these locations?
Paragraph breaks in a CSV file are ALWAYS interpreted as a new record, and your merge will fail because you have records that have the wrong number of fields. If you need line breaks in a field you must repalce them with a code of some sort in plain text that you can replace after the merge using Find/Change.
If you're already having a Word macro developed for you, it may be too late for my suggestion, but... why aren't you just placing the Word file? CSV seems like unnecessary complication.
FWIW, I am sure that Peter is right as far as "extra" encodings for ordinary stuff like en-dashes. There are many ways to get an en-dash in Word, and some of them don't work outside of Word without signficant amounts of duct tape.
Thanks Peter, It's good to know that the paragraph break is always going to fall over (so we can stop trying to make it work!). My developer also suggested 'find/change' however he wanted to know if there was another work around before proceeding.
We'll look at a range of glyphs and apply extra codings.
Hi there Joel, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately simply placing the Word file into InDesign won't save any time in this instance. The appeal of data merge is that we can format everything as it comes into InDesign. We have large amounts of content (350 object labels for example) and need to be able to generate artwork quickly. There is also a lot of info in the Word doc that is reference rather than content.
If you need to search the text for dirty crap you'd better do that in a text editor like TextWranger rather than inside Word. You could also import the Word file into InDesign and take a look at the content in the Story Editor.
Also inside InDesign you could use Find/Replace to clean the text fast, convert all the Returns into Tabs (especially if you manage to use GREP).
Then export or simply copy/paste into Excel to make the CSV file.
I have done what you are describing, with Word & InDesign, on a daily basis, for years. Word is not the best choice for this kind of workflow, of course, but if I had to choose between placing Word & doing a data merge with CSV, I'd be torn. Neither one is really the tool for the job. XML import would suit you better, but if you're already midstream in VBA development, there's no point in trying to describe why placing carefully styled RTFs and clearing overrides is better than writing VBA to clean up Word files and turn them into CSV.
(Look at style mapping in Import Options when placing a Word file for future projects.)
(Also: it's not extra codings that you want to apply in VBA, it's purging Word-specific "Symbols" and just using true Unicode values for em dashes and other typographical symbols.)
Great, thanks Sigurdur. Seems like neither way is seamless. We'll keep proceeding with Data Merging the csv file I think and impliment find/change where needed. Cheers