As a regular user of Data Merge, I often have to assemble projects that require cut and stack impositions. Most of the time, I prepare my files one-up at the correct size and output to PDF, knowing that the RIP of the digital printer has imposition software that has the ability to prepare cut and stack style impositions.
If cut and stack is an unfamiliar term, it is a style of page imposition where the subsequent pages appear on the sheets below until the end of a stack, and then begin again at the top of the sheet in this continuous pattern.
Unlike bookwork that may have a maximum page count of under 1000 pages, cut and stack impositions can deal with page counts in the hundreds of thousands… enough to make any imposition program buckle.
Another way of handling cut and stack impositions is to prepare the imposed base in Adobe InDesign, and then manipulate the data so that rather than being one long list, the list is split into columns based on the amount of pages-to-view on an imposed sheet. This is a quicker method as there are less pages to process and no imposition software to use, but there is the time taken to split the data appropriately, and will suffer any human error that went into manually making the revised database.
Frustrated with this situation, I decided to create a script that would take a large database and repurpose it for a cut and stack imposition. On that note, I present to you my latest script.
The imposed base is created in Adobe InDesign with text frames in place for the data merge placeholders. The script is then run and prompts the user for the original data. An interface appears asking the user for:
- The records to process;
- The amount of records in a set;
- The amount of sets in a stack;
- How to process last records (in case the stack sizes are uneven); and
- Any other identifiers visible in the database.
Once OK is clicked, the script creates a duplicate of the original database and arranges the data appropriately, and launches the Data Merge palette so that the imposed base placeholders can be populated.
If you would like to test this script, please go to the Contact page and in the comment field, ask for the Data Merge Cut and Stack Assistant script.