10 Replies Latest reply on Oct 27, 2011 3:41 PM by Peter Spier

    Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5

    Brenda VT Labor Level 1

      I am trying to do a large mail merge in InDesign CS5. I have set up 3-up postcards on one page that I have to keep in zip order for bulk mailing reasons. I have broken my data file of appox. 2,000 names down into three smaller files ( top, middle, bottom) to do three sepreate data merges on the doucment  in order to keep the zip code order intact when cutting the 3-up documents apart.


      I can't get this to work to save my soul. I went to Windows>Utilites>Data Merge.


      I then heard that I should go to Windows>Automation>Data Merge (however, that is in CS4).


      Where do I find this Automation selection in CS5. I HAVE TO PRINT THESE CARDS OUT TODAY AND I AM FREAKING OUT. IT'S A SIMPLE MAIL MERGE...PLEASE...HELP..IT SHOUDLN'T BE THAT DIFFICULT. Programs like word and publisher do them easily. Sigh...It shoudl not take hours to do a mail mege.


      When I did do Windows>Utilities>Data Merge the file stopped working. One record appears correclty when I preview, but then when I do the actual merge I waited over half an hour to get the date to appear. I checked task manager and the program was not  repsonding. HELP!!!!

        • 1. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
          Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

          There have been some other reports of problems with Data Merge when you preview. Try again, either by doing a Cmd (Ctrl) + Z to undo the preview, or skip the preview entirely.


          You haven't mentioned how you set this up, but if you put three sets of placeholders on the page, you will get three copies of each card. To do multiple records per page you must use only one set of placeholders, in the upper left position, and set the spacing parameters to fit three-up.


          As far as sorting, you need to do that in the data file before the merge. I don't know exactly what you expect, but if you want to put this in a cutter and slice the stack so things are sorted down through the stack, that's goiing to be a LOT of work to arrange the data file. An aternate method, but just as much work for sorting by zip code I think, would be to put three sets of information in each record, then set up three sets of placeholders to do a one-record-per-page merge (you need to name the fields for each group uniquely).


          I do tickets sorted in stack order using data merge, but that's very simple to sort automatically in Excel as you are working with a straight progression of numbers. For zip codes you will have duplicates and gaps, and I'm no Excel power user, but I don't see a way to really automate that into ordered stacks.

          • 2. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
            Brenda VT Labor Level 1

            The folks in the main print shop (state government) do this all the time. They, however, have CS4.


            I at present have only set up one address block on the top card and tried to load in jsut one of my three files (top, for top card zip codes). We sorted the excell stuff accordingly to differentiate which cards went on top, middle and bottom. This was done by someone who knew hpw to pull out every third record and then he gave those records either a top, middle or bottom identifier depending on their position.


            Just loading in the one file into one address block is not working. And what the heck is a script???? It appears I have to have some sort of script? I have no clue what this is and really don't have time to learn how to do coding on anything if I am to get these cards out. Geez--It's a mail merge...It's not curing cancer. Though Iam beginning to think the process is gogin to take as long.


            Help. I can try hitting up the print shop agian, though they have a different version.

            • 3. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
              mckayk_777 Level 2

              Just had a thought


              Sorry if this does not completly make cents but am very new to mail merge and today if the first time doing them... but...


              The import of the fields are done by the headings on each column.

              There seems to be no limit to the number of columns that you can have so say you have a pile of address to do and you want them to be 3 up on the page.


              The column headings would be something like this:

              Name1 -  Surname1 - Address1 - City1 - Postcode1 - Name2 -  Surname2 - Address2 - City2 - Postcode2 - Name3 -  Surname3 - Address3 - City3 - Postcode3 i am sure you get the idea

              Copy the fields from below each other and paste them into the columns as per required.

              Now when you bring that file into indesign you create 3 text blocks and paste the headings into the required area


              Did a quick one here and it worked fine.

              • 4. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                Colin Flashman Adobe Community Professional

                this sounds like a complicated way to do a cut and stack imposition. by "cut and stack" I mean that once the merge is printed, it should require one set of cuts to have the stacks in the correct collation order. For example, the "top" stack would be 1-50, the "middle" stack would be 51-100, and the "bottom" stack would be 101-150.


                I've written a post on my own blog which might explain it a bit better. go to http://colecandoo.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/using-data-merge-to-impose-it-can-do-it-but/ and go to part 4) cut and stack impositions. I've put a link on there with a video posted by another indesigner showing how to do this in case my explanation is difficult.


                that is if the cut and stack imposition is done in indesign. it's unclear whether the OP is printing within the office, or whether the OP is sending the artwork out to a commercial printer to print. if the latter is the case, i'd prepare 1-up files and let the printer impose the artwork using imposition software that any printer worth their salt should have.

                • 5. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)



                  I just read the blog and I'm not sure I understand how that would work here. You'd merge twice, maybe? Once to get the data file (presumably sorted into linear order now for inkjetting envelopes or similar) inot ID, then export that to PDF and do a new merge from a datafile with the pages arranged in order? That seems complex, but it did give me an idea for a realtively simple solution.


                  Here's how I would do it at this Point: Create a new ID merge template the size of 1/3 of the three-up sheet and put the place holders in position for a single label. Do a one-record-per-page merge and save the .indd file.


                  Next create a new file to hold the lables three-up and use Scott Zanelli's Multi-page Importer script (InDesignSecrets » Blog Archive » Zanelli Releases MultiPageImporter for Importing both PDF and INDD Files -- for CS3 right click the link that says original version for CS3 and "save link as" and change the extension to .zip) to import the previously saved merged file. Do this in three steps. Run the script once on the first third of the pages and set the posistion to top. This will create the correct number of stacked pages with the first third running down in order. Run the script again, choosing the second third as the page range and centered as position, and one more time withthe last third positioned on the bottom (or left to right if that's how they are arranged onthe sheet).

                  • 6. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                    mckayk_777 Level 2

                    That all sounds very complicated to my idea of having the data organised in the spreadsheet. Or have I missed something peter with my idea that makes it unworkable.

                    I had it so you could have 3 place holders on the one page, as per what the OP was looking for without a pile of stuffing around.

                    • 7. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                      There's nothing wrong with the idea of three sets of fields in one record (I mentioned it myself as a possibility), the problem is sorting the records into the correct order for the stack, and even worse, maintaining the order if addresses are added or deleted later.


                      If you keep a single address per record list sorted in the correct order you can always use it for n-up, regardless of the number represented by n simply by doing the doing the single record merge, then dividing the number of pages by n and running the multipage importer n times to get each block. I suppose this could get complicated with positioning more than three in either direction on the sheet, but it's doable, and it cold be broken down into sub-ducuments of two or three wide or deep, and then those docs placed into a larger one.

                      • 8. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                        mckayk_777 Level 2

                        Ah i see clearly now, your way would be a lot more controlable.

                        One great thing about this thread it has introduced me to the possiblities of data merge which I have never had the time to look at.

                        Thanks again Indesign

                        • 9. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                          Colin Flashman Adobe Community Professional



                          Yes i was suggesting merge twice, but it's to demonstrate that DM can do it, but not necessarily should.


                          I do think your "third/third/third" method using multipageimporter2.5.jsx is probably the easiest though and what i'd also suggest to the OP.


                          Put simply though there is no way "out of the box" to do a cut and stack style imposition using datamerge without some workarounds, each with their own pros and cons.

                          • 10. Re: Simple Mail Merge in InDesign CS5
                            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                            Well, as far as I'm concerned, you should get the main credit on this. Until I read your blog, I didn't think there was a practical method at all.