This site is intended to provide hints, tips and advice for anyone using Adobe InDesign and Creative Cloud for preparing print projects.

In addition to this blog, I am also available to provide my services for any after-hours freelance projects. For more information on rates and availability, I can be contacted using the form below.

If you have any ideas for an article or youtube video, I’m always open to suggestions!

If you writing because of issues with a script, please include:

  • The script you are having issues with;
  • The operating system that you are using;
  • The version of InDesign (or other software) you are using;
  • The language version of the software being used;
  • The particular issue with the script; and
  • The steps taken in order for the issue to occur.



  1. Hello,

    I am totally stuck on a problem and hoping you might be able to work some magic!

    So, here’s the deal:

    We are creating a flyer for a franchised business. There are 70 franchisees. The flyer needs to have sections of personalised information for each franchise so that when the flyers are given out the customers can call their local franchise.

    In the past when we have done these jobs we create the artwork and then once it is approved we manually type up the details (phone numbers addresses etc) In separate layers within InDesign. We then use InDesign’s clever ‘layered pdf feature’ to export 1 single pdf file with multiple layers where each layer has a different franchisee’s information in it. We then send just the one pdf to the printer and they print all the separate versions.

    Being efficient I wanted to see if I could find a way to automatically populate the document with the franchisee information instead of having to copy paste it all in manually. And lo and behold I discovered Data Merge! “Thank goodness!” I said, “all my problems are solved!!!”

    However, The problem with me for data merge is not a question of getting it to work. It works perfectly and populate my document with all my data wonderfully, but when I want to create the merged document it create 1 gigantic document with multiple duplicates of my pages with the different information on. The best I could get is 70 different pdfs, but for a large document this would then be an insane amount of file space taken up with 1 job and a lot of GB to send to the printer.

    Does anyone know of a way to blend these two capabilities so that I can use data merge in import the data, but somehow put the information onto layers within 1 document (and there 1 set of pages).

    Thanks so much in advance for your help, and sorry for the long post!


    • I need a little more information. After reading the post, it appears that there is a static base containing the brand and the offers, and then the variable data that is 70 records long, with each record being contact details for each franchisee. Is this correct? If it is, how is the document being printed – on an offset press or digital copier? The variable data… is it black text on a white background, or is it something more complicated that forms part of the design, such as white text over the top of a graphic?

      In answer to the direct question of effectively data merging to different layers within a one page PDF… no I don’t know how to do that. It’s not something that I’d want from a printing perspective – if I was handed a one page PDF with 71 layers in it, I would be frustrated as hell constantly toggling layers on and off in order to get the right campaign, and it would be interesting to know how your current printer is processing the PDF that they are supplied.

      An alternate option is to prepare a base PDF and a variable PDF. If the job is being printed on a digital copier using EFI command workstation, that software has the ability to combine the variable PDF onto the base PDF as it is printing. I use this regularly to output files that range in the tens of thousands.

      I’m not aware of any ability to data merge to layers within a PDF but a search of the adobe forums – particularly the acrobat one – may yield some better results. Best of Luck 😀

    • There is a hyperlink to my email in the text just before the social media icons. Send me an email and I will reply with the script (and instructions) attached.

      The script is in a beta stage so it is available by request only at the moment.

  2. I have downloaded the beta script of “Data Merge from InDesign to unique filenames”and followed the instructions included. When I run the script, I am getting an error message “missing placeholder” line 614. How can I go about figuring out what is wrong and getting the script working properly?

    • I need to be able to replicate the fault on my machine to diagnose what is happening. I’ve not encountered this error during testing so I would need to test your files on my machine. You can contact me directly via email link on the requests page to send me the necessary assets used in the creation of your files so far so that I can determine if this is a bug or if there is something amiss in the file setup.

    • I was able to rectify the fault and I believe it has to do with the field names in the database not matching the fields that have already been placed into InDesign. This would occur if the merge was made using one database, but then the database was updated or replaced and a field name has changed. Are you able to preview any of the records using the Data Merge preview, or does an error that says “There is a least one data placeholder that cannot be found in the data source.” appear?

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