How do you Merge Data and Design? With uMerge!RISORSE

How do you Merge Data and Design? With uMerge!


By Deb Haines, Senior Trainer/Solutions Specialist at XMPie

For graphic designers, the need to prepare different versions of practically the same document is commonplace – invitations, certificates, menus datasheets, or business cards to name a few. They may also have to take an existing design and change many data-related items in it, such as updating prices on a menu, or changing images and copy for a ‘specials’ flyer. Instead of updating the design manually, there are ways to automate this process using software that is geared towards database publishing.

Enter uMerge. As many of you know, we recently launched uMerge – an add-on to Adobe InDesign that brings advanced personalization capabilities to designers. With uMerge, graphic communicators can easily create documents that will make it easy to generate unique personalized versions driven by a simple, external data source.

Below we’ll walk through a few examples from a recent webinar so you can get a better idea of how uMerge works to personalize documents. For this document, a client wants to make an education direct mail piece more personalized to target specific groups of people and courses.

To start off, one important step is to mark up the document and label the areas of the design that are going to change based on your data. As you’ll see above, every highlighted aspect will change based on criteria in the data source it’s linked to. For example, the group image will change based on information about the person in the mailing list.

Once you know what you need to change, you can locate your data and start personalizing your documents. Simply click quick start on the uMerge add-on to locate and connect your mailing list and content objects. Connecting the data creates content objects. Once these objects are linked to frames and other design elements, the content shown in those items will change based the business rules you setup.

In Step 2, simply “Set the Working Folder” to the location of the images you’ll be using in this design.


Now, to start personalizing your document! Let’s take a look at the address block. All the aspects within the address block need to be made into dynamic elements that link back to the data source. First, you grab the text tool. Highlight the portion of text you want to make a dynamic element, go over to the uMerge panel, find the appropriate content object in the list, and then double click it to make the design element dynamic. Once this is done your text will be highlighted in blue and every entry will change based on the data source. Let’s look specifically at the recipients first name. Highlight the first name and then go to the uMerge panel and double click on the object in the list that’s labeled ‘first name’ to create the dynamic element. Continue this process for the rest of the text in the address block to connect the appropriate data for each recipient.


Now, let’s look at the image on the first page (front). The first thing you’ll have to do is go to the uMerge panel and select the “Group” content object in which all your images will be linked to. From there you right-click (or control-click) on the content object, view down to select ‘Type’, and then ‘graphic’. These objects will be recognized as a graphic file not just as text.


The linking process is very similar to the address example. Simply click on the image frame (and not the actual image within the frame) in your design, and then double click the “Group” image content object in the uMerge panel. uMerge understands that the image in this frame changes by retrieving the actual picture file from within our working files folder.


These are just a few examples of what uMerge can do. To learn more, be sure to check out the webinar replay and We’ll be breaking down some examples in more detail soon, so stay tuned! If you’re currently using uMerge, tweet us at @MyuMerge and let us know what you think!