How to Data Merge in Indesign CS6 Tutorial

Tutorial Details

Difficulty: Advanced
Estimated Time : 15 minutes
Video Tutorial included


In this tutorial we’ll show you how to data merge from a spreadsheet (Numbers or Microsoft Excel) into a document using the data merge feature in Indesign CS6.

So what Is Data merging? Data merge is the ability to create fields in your document that automatically populates from a comma delimited file otherwise known as a CSV.

You can create the CSV using Microsoft excel or numbers for mac or export it from a number of other databases such as WordPress, SAGE, Joomla, Drupal etc.

So lets get started!

1. Data from a spreadsheet

In this example I am using Numbers on Mac; however, these steps should be similar to Microsoft Excel in Windows.

Add any data you’ll need in the InDesign document onto the spreadsheet. Make sure you have your headings across the top and records underneath as shown.

A sample CSV file for data merging in InDesign CS6

Export your data to a CSV format (comma delimited file, NOT tab delimited file). If you have multiple sheets of data try and consolidate them to one. If not the different sheets will be separate CSV files.

2 . Preparing the layout design in InDesign

Set up your design in indesign. You can use master pages for the layouts but the editable text needs to be on the main pages otherwise it won’t work.

3. Assign the CSV file to the InDesign document

Open up the data merge panel under Window – Utilities – Data Merge.

How to access data merge in indesign cs6

Now select the further options on that panel and click “Select Data Source…”

How to select data to merge in indesign cs6

Navigate to the place where you saved the CSV file. Once there click open

4. Assigning the data fields inside text boxes

Now that you have the CSV file linked with indesign you will see several data fields in the Data Merge panel.

data fields for data merging in indesign cs6

Go to the text boxes in your design where you wish these fields to show up and click on the field name once in the panel. For this example we’re using “<<First Name>>” and this should appear in the text box.

How to insert data fields into a text box in indesign cs6

Now repeat this action until you have all the fields you wish to show on your design.

5. Now for the data merging!

Once you’ve finished populating go back to the data merge panel, select further options and click “Create Merged Document”.

How to create the data merged document in Indesign CS6

Because this is a one data record per a design we will leave it as single record per page. Preview it to make sure everything is fine and then click ok.

How to merge a single record onto a page with data merge in indesign cs6

6. Finalising the document

A new indesign file will be create with multiple pages.

In the pages tab after data merging a single record in indesign cs6

A message will pop up letting you know if any text has been overset. From here you can export it to PDF, ebook or which ever format you require it.

An example of data merging in indesign cs6


In this tutorial we’ve learned:

  • How to use Data Merge in InDesign
  • How to merge a single record per a page
  • How to personalise an InDesign document

There are many more ways to use Data Merge especially with the multiple Records per a page which I will touch on in another tutorial.