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How to set up Indesign file for importing an editable Excel spreadsheet?
October 27, 2010 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Wrangling Excel data in InDesign: When first creating a multi-page pricelist (which will need to be updated regularly), importing data from a 2000-odd row speadsheet, what should I be considering?

I've been asked by a client (a wholesaler) to create a trade pricelist for their complete inventory. I anticipate that the pricelist will be updated and reprinted about four times a year.

As a designer who spends most of my time in Photoshop and Illustrator I probably use about 5% of InDesign's capabilities. So I'd love some general advice from designers with a bit more experience wrangling imported data -

How should I set up the InDesign file (and possibly the Excel file) so that the update process will be relatively painless?

The client has supplied me with a single spreadsheet of four columns and ~2000 rows. It has ~50 categories, with anything from a couple of items to ~100 in each category. The data has been entered manually and all updates to prices and new products will also be added manually. The client is prepared to change the format of the list (eg. placing each category on a separate Sheet) if this will make the update process easier - and thus cheaper - each time the pricelist needs to be reprinted.

Currently for each category there is a category title in the first cell of an otherwise empty row. Then following row has labels Part Number, Description, Trade Price and Retail Price in the respective cells. Each product's details are in the subsequent rows. And then the client has left a blank row between categories.

The most helpful answers you could provide will probably be to questions I can't even conceive of at this point in time, but at the moment my specific questions are:
  1. One big spreadsheet, or one Sheet per category (~50) in Excel?
  2. One giant table in InDesign, or one per category (~50)? (And does wanting each category's zebra stripes to always commence with a white row affect this advice?)
  3. If I nominate a Cell Range when initially importing (eg A1, D10) and then the client adds two more items to the category do I need to manually alter the Cell Range when I refresh the link - and how do I do this - to avoid losing the earlier last two rows (which is what is happening in my experiments)?
  4. Just how automated can I make the import process? Assuming for a moment that I use different tables for each category (I want to use 'zebra stripes' so I suspect I'll need to do this) is it possible to get ID to always style the first row with Cell Style "Category", the second row with Cell Style "Column Heading", the left column with Cell Style "Part Number", the next column with "Description", then "Trade", then "Retail"? As best I can tell Table Styles only allow you to define the Header and Footer rows, and the leftmost and rightmost columns.
  5. What resources can you recommend to a MeFite looking to improve their fairly rudimentary ID skills?
Thanks in advance for any an all advice.

(OSX 10.6, Adobe CS5)
posted by puffmoike to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
 
You might find it useful to watch Episode 43 of The InDesigner, which covers this topic. It's three years old and for an older version of the software, but I bet you'll still pick up a load of good tips.
posted by bcwinters at 8:11 AM on October 27, 2010


Seconding using Data Merge - you'll be able to have fine control over the format of the data, its appearance, and so on and so forth.
posted by suedehead at 7:54 PM on October 27, 2010


Thanks for the tips. Data Merge is something which I didn't know about, and something I'd have been unlikely to consider exploring even if I did.
posted by puffmoike at 10:16 PM on October 28, 2010


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