When it comes to creating documents, templates make life easier. The ones provided by your commercial print vendor ensure they will get a file that requires less adjustment, which saves you money. Even when printing something on your own printer at home, templates are still convenient. Combining a template and data file with InDesign's Data Merge command is one way to quickly create name badges. The template does not have to be in InDesign format; it can be placed as a graphic.
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Open the file with the names. This should be in a spreadsheet, such as Microsoft Excel. Verify the first row contains a description of what is in the column directly below (example: first name, title, etc.). This is called your header row. If the file is not in spreadsheet format, open your spreadsheet program and copy the information into a new file.
Make any necessary corrections to the names and/or header row. Save your file in CSV (Comma-Delimited Text) format.
Open your InDesign template or create a new file and add your template using the Place command. The physical size of the file will depend on how you are printing your badge. If printing several badges on one page, the file will be the size of one sheet of badges (usually 8.5 x 11 inches). Otherwise, create your file to be the size of one badge (four by three inches is a common size).
Create the layout for your badge. Add logos, colours, character styles, and whatever you want to do. If your final file will be several pages, you may want to add common elements to the Master Page to save time.
If the Data Merge palette is not showing in your workspace, select it from the Window Menu to bring it up.
Click on the arrow in the right corner of the Data Merge palette and select "Import Data Source." Choose the CSV file that contains your data and click "OK." The fields from your Header Row will appear in the palette.
Insert the merge fields in your document. To insert a field, click on it in the palette and apply any text formatting the final badge will have. Turn on the "Preview" checkbox at the bottom of the Data Merge palette to see the final product and make any adjustments. If printing multiple badges on a page, only create one badge in the top left corner of the page.
Select "Merge" from the menu in the Data Merge palette. When the box appears, verify the settings and click the Merge button. If need to merge multiple records on a page, change the settings here before beginning the merge.
Scroll through your final document to be sure everything is correct. Save your merged file with a different name before printing.
Tips and warnings
- If you cannot find a suitable name badge template, use one for labels with the correct size.
- If there is a problem with your data file, InDesign will not complete the merge, but will give you a message telling you to fix the file before proceeding.
- Making corrections to your data file does not automatically update the merge file. You will need to do a new merge.
- Not checking the preview for every record before merging can cause problems, as some names can be very long and get cut off during the process, especially if both names are on one line.
- The merged information is in a new file, so not saving the file before closing means you will have to do the merge over again.
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