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Create Multiple Versions of a Business Card with Adobe InDesign's Data Merge Panel

Time is of the essence when you're a designer.

Tight deadlines and quick turnarounds are commonplace more often than not, so it's important to find a good system when designing.

In this tutorial, I will go over how to use #Adobe InDesign's Data Merge panel, which allows you to create multiple variations of a document by merging a data source file, such as a .txt or CSV. Creating hundreds of variations of letters, envelopes, mailing labels and other documents can be done quickly and efficiently using Data Merge.

In this example, I will demonstrate how to use Data Merge to create multiple versions of a business card that may have the same design, but different employee information.

We'll use a txt file highlighting such things like name, title, phone number, email and website.

Firstly, it's important that your source file is saved as a .txt and not rtf (Rich Text Format). A comma-separated values (CSV) will also work.

Separate the values in your txt file with the name and comma, much like you see in this example.

Data Merge Panel

To access the Data Merge Panel, simply navigate to Windows > Utilities > Data Merge. Drag and attach this panel to your side panel workspace as you will need it frequently during this exercise.

  1. Create a text frame that will serve as the name and title for you business card. Create another text frame below, which will serve as the staff information — phone number, email and website.

  2. Open the Data Merge panel and in the options menu select Select Data Source.

  3. Navigate to your txt file and open.

  4. In the Data Merge panel, the subject headers from the txt file will now appear.

  5. Click on the first header — in this case it is Name — and drag into the first text frame. You also have the option of placing the cursor within the frame and clicking on the Data Merge elements.

  6. Repeat Step 5 with remaining source data elements in second text frame.

  7. Click on the Preview box in the Data Merge panel to see your changes in real time.

Now that the source file has been linked and the design is set, it's now time to export the Data Merged layout.

Here are the steps to achieve this.

  1. In the Data Merge panel options, select Create Merged Document.

  2. Indicate the Record to Merge. In this case, select the All Records option to merge all instances from the original source file.

  3. Click OK

  4. This will create the merged document with the business cards.

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