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Using Adobe Indesign to Easily Print Address Labels

Adobe Indesign’s Data Merge function is designed to take a large selection
of data and format it according to a template to make it ready for
printing. It significantly eases the job of the designer by allowing a
number of records to be processed as a batch – for example, a set of
address labels.

Preparing the CSV file

The Data Merge requires a CSV file of records arranged in columns and rows,
with the appropriate headers at the top of each column. This can be set up
in Microsoft Excel. The address must be arranged with each row representing
a new record. The headers are used in Indesign to identify each line of the
address.

Once the list of records have been added, the file must be saved as a .CSV
file instead of the usual .XLS Excel format. This can be done by using the
drop-down list in the Save File dialog box to choose the Comma delimited
file type.

Importing the CSV file Into Indesign

In Indesign, the Data Merge tool is listed under Automation in the Window
menu. The CSV file must first be imported into this tool through the Data
Merge context menu. The Select Data Source option will bring up a browser
window where the CSV file may be selected. If the file is imported
correctly, it will be listed in the Data Merge window and the headers will
be visible.

Note that Indesign cannot import the CSV file if it is still open in Excel,
and if there are no headers, it will not be able to read the information
correctly.

Adding the Address records to an Indesign Template

Although it is possible for a user to design their own address template in
Indesign, it is far more convenient to use a pre-made template that
corresponds to a set of printable address labels such as the Avery series.
These templates can be downloaded from Adobe Exchange.

Once the template has been opened, the headers in the Data Merge window can
be clicked and dragged into the first text box of the template. The headers
become placeholders which are then treated as normal text, and can be
formatted as such. Other text can be added around the placeholders as
needed.

Completing the Data Merge

Once the address is formatted and all required headers have been added, the
Data Merge tool is used to automatically generate a new Indesign file based
on the template and the CSV records. This is done by clicking on the Data
Merge options and choosing to merge all records with multiple records per
page. Clicking on the Preview Multiple Record Layout box will instantly
generate the first page of the new file, and is useful to see if the
records will be formatted correctly. Once the user clicks OK, Indesign will
then merge all records in the CSV file into the address template, and
produce a new Indesign file with a complete set of ready-to-print address
labels.

The Data Merge tool is especially useful for designers that work with a
customer database, as it allows batch formatting and printing of hundreds
of records at a time. It can also handle images, and may be used to
automatically generate simple product catalogues based on a single format.

 

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