In the latest Colecandoo Youtube episode, four Data Merge specific features are covered, namely:
- Adding faux-returns to a data merge field to split over lines, and subsequent limitations of this technique;
- Using GREP styles to swap a character for a glyph during a Data Merge;
- Highlighting field codes so that they are easier to see when not showing live data; and
- A bug that occurs when a double-quote is at the start of any field in a Data Merge text file.
Faux returns within a field
The faux-returns technique is written about elsewhere, so rather than spoil their presentations, please read the articles directly from the appropriate sources:
I’m a fan of this trick, but emphasise that this is a workaround rather than a long-term solution, given that formatting is limited and there are more appropriate ways of accomplishing this task such as dedicated plug-ins or an XML workflow.
Swap characters for glyphs
Daniel Solis also features a clever trick to swap phrases with glyphs during a Data Merge that uses both GREP styles and ligatures. Again, rather than simply repeat the technique, please see his original video here.
A similar method can be employed using Indiscripts’ Indyfont script, but rather than swapping phrases with glyphs, will swap single characters.
Highlight Field Codes
The video also shows a method for highlighting field-codes when Data Merge is not in the preview mode. It relies on the [Basic Paragraph] style using a GREP style that contains a large highlight, and that any other styles in the document are based off of the [Basic Paragraph] style. It also means the document has to be styled correctly.
I’d demonstrated this technique following a real-world example of a live file where fields were very hard to see, and the file had to have an offset shell printed with variable data printed afterwards, so making sure the shell had no variable data on it was crucial. Using this technique would make finding the field codes much easier to see.
Double Quote bug
Also featured in the video was an issue that once again arose from a real-world example where a customer had provided a database that had double-quotes at the beginning of fields, but no closing quotes, resulting in rather unusual results.