I've researched this issue all morning and found issues dating back to 2012 regarding the problems with Indesign's Multiple Record Data Merge. Many of the issues are answered with the basic set up. Create a new page as a single page and non facing page document. It appears that an earlier bug was resolved that caused data merge documents to be placed off center when produced. The issue that I was experiencing was similar to what I had seen but not covered or not answered when it appeared someone was posting a question about it.
I started with a single page document, non-facing page, no initial text box, and sized to 8.5'' x 11''. I'm layout out name badges 10-up on a page. I had a previous template that had some graphics in the background for alignment purposes. I created a blank master page and a record holder for the name badge then loaded my data source, placed my data entries, and styled accordingly. Upon creating a data merge I selected Multiple Record and then previewed the data merge and positioned the elements on the page using the data merge controls top, left and column placement commands.
The preview looked perfect. The problem came when I finished the final data merge. The resulting page was not correct and looked nothing like the preview. Records were strewn about the page and excessive amounts of pages were created. I spent 4 hours trouble shooting this, far more than this project was billed. At this point it was a mission. In a reply dated back around 2013 I found that someone had removed a layer from their document. I had no layers. The only thing that was not a part of the actual data merge was the graphics that I had on the page for positioning that were not tied to the data merge at all.
I decided to delete these graphics and try to apply the data merge again. The results were perfect. I'm deducing from this experiment that the data merge needs to be done on a blank page. Which is counter productive to the Indesign mater page template. Any elements on the page need to exist as a a part of your data entry group and no other elements on the page. You only create one data entry group in the top corner of the page then use the data merge panel to position and duplicate. Otherwise, you will get a single page for each record you have with each record set 10-up in my case.
- Create a single non-facing page document with no intial text box. (if you have more than one page the Multiple Records option will be grayed out)
- Only have 1 layer in this document
- Set a single data entry set/group on the master page.
- Do not include any other graphics. Put them in after the data merge.
- Click the Create Merged Document button in the data merge panel
- Select "Multiple Records" from the drop down list
- Click the Multiple Record Layout tab at the top of the Data Merge panel
- Click "Preview Multiple Record Layout" at the bottom of the Data Merge panel so you can see the Entry Sets with the data in place
- Use the Margins and Layout or Records inputs to position the elements on the document (see note below)
- Click OK when everything is in place the way you like it.
- After the data merge is complete you will have a new document that should look like you want it to. Now you can go into this document and start adding your design elements.
NOTE: Positioning the content without the base graphics can be tough if not impossible. What I did in this situation is placed my positioning guides on the page then went through Steps 1-9 to set up the document for merge. Once my settings were set I then clicked "Cancel" and deleted my positioning guides and graphics. The problem I was having was due to these elements being on the page. Once I created the document I then pasted my template guides back into the final data merged master page for production.
Request to ADOBE: Fix this issue so we can design our layouts and position our data merge elements without having to backtrack.