I don't think I really undertand the structure of the data file you have. My sense, though is that this may not really be a data merge project.
At its heart, Data Merge is is very primitive. It's great for mailing labels, but can get defeated by more complex projects. For the merge to work, all of the data must be structured the same for each record in terms of the number of fields, and the text you want to include needs to be in the fields (as far as I know, you cannot use a pointer to an external text file in a field the same way that you can use a pointer to an image). You have a choice when setting up the merge template, though, of putting the plceholders on the document page or on the master page.
If you put the placeholders on the master page, the data can be updated AFTER the merge, at least in theory (doesn't seem to work well with images), but it doesn't really sound to me like that's what you need, but it is a possibility if you have a basic documenet and the clients add text later.
In any case, if you are letting the client add text, you need to add that text directly into your data file, either in Excel and re-export the entire data set, or set up some sort of find/change routine to replace tags in the text file with the text supplied by the client.
Peter Spier wrote:
If you put the placeholders on the master page, the data can be updated AFTER the merge…
I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you mean that you can edit the data source and update it in the ID file, that can be done if the placeholder is on the document page or the master page. I tried it both ways, and couldn't get the merged document to update on it's own. I had to do the merge on the ID file that contained the placeholder again to get an updated merge. Did I misunderstand you?
It's been a while since I've seen or tried to do it, but yes, after the merge, there is an option to update data source which should update the merged data if the fields are on the master page. It is not something I use in my own work, but it came up about a year ago when a user posted that his images disappeared when he updated, and I was able, if I remember right, to reproduce the problem here, too. I think this is covered inthe Help files...