We will be using Adobe InDesign® for this tutorial. Assuming you have already created your artwork using graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop® or Illustrator® , open your design file in InDesign. Select “Window” from the top menu, select “Automation” and click on “Data Merge” as shown below.
A new panel will open with instructions on how to select the data source (the CSV file we created in the first steps).
Important Tip: Make sure the CSV file is not open in Excel since this can possibly impede you from opening it with any other program.
As stated inside the Data Merge panel “Choose Select Data Source from the panel menu” (circled in red below). After you select the CSV file (stored in the VDP folder we made earlier), all the column names from the excel sheet appear as a list inside the data merge panel.
In the Data Merge panel, Step 2 instructs us to “Drag data fields from the panel to frames on the page”. Select the Rectangle Frame Tool in your Tools Palette and draw a rectangle on the area where you would like the variable data to show up on your artwork. I used the Ellipse Frame Tool because the area I want my variable data to show on is a round cloud.
You can now drag the data field you would like displayed right into the frame we made. In this tutorial I am using the First Name field. Drag First Name from the Data Merge Panel right onto the X in the Frame and click “Preview” in the Data Merge Panel in order to change the type font and size to fit and display properly.
Important Tip: Make sure to account for long names or information in the frame size as it will either get cut off or wrapped to the next line automatically.
Once you have formatted your type to fit your design, open the panel menu and select “Create Merged Document”. This will open a window with many options to customize the output but the default settings will create this simple variable data project for you.
The final step is to save your document as a PDF. Click File > Export, and select PDF from the Save As drop down.
Important Tip: Make sure to add bleeds, crop marks and any other printer’s marks.