Making Mailing Labels in InDesign CS2

One of the cool features of Adobe InDesign CS2 is the built-in ability to data merge from a comma-separated text or CSV file. Although similar options have been available within Microsoft Word and other applications, this is new to InDesign as an integrated feature.

Making Mailing LabelsMaking Mailing Lables in InDesign CS2

In previous versions of InDesign you’d need to add a plug-in such as Adobe PageMaker plug-in pack or one from a third-party like InData from Em Software. There are also a number of catalog plug-ins, like 65bit Software’s EZCatalog, that would do the job but they’re much too powerful for a job as straightforward as setting up mailing labels to print on the kind of pre-glued and cut label paper you’d find at your local stationery or office supply store.

The first step to making your mailing labels in InDesign CS2 is determining what type of label you want to use. A quick scan online or in-store will show numerous sizes and colors to pick from. For this tutorial, I’m going with a commonly available 1″ x 2-5/8″ label, keeping it plain, simple, and easy to explain. Many major office product manufacturers provide templates for their label papers for download. If you’ve got a ubiquitous enough brand, they may even provide InDesign templates for you to use. Let’s assume you’re Gung-Ho, like me, and decide to create your own label template.

Create a New DocumentAlthough you can adjust margins after creating the document, save your self some time by doing it when you first create the new file.

To set-up a template for a letter-size page, determine how many columns and what margins you’ll need. Our label will fit nicely in a 3-column format with 1/2″ margins top and bottom, and 1/4″ margins on the sides. Make sure you leave the gutters at 0, because most pre-fab labels butt-up against each other to save space. Click OK after you’ve entered your dimensions.

Add a Text BoxAll you need is one Text Box if your columns and margins are set-up correctly.

Create one Text Box at the size of the label, in this case 1″ x 2 5/8″, and position it so that it fits within the first column. Assuming you’ve set-up your CSV correctly with a header for each column, click on Window>Automation>Data Merge. With the Data Merge palette open, click on the fly-out menu and select “Select Data Source;” navigate to your data source, select it and click Open. The headers from your CSV will populate the Date Merge Palette and you’re now ready to build your mailing labels.

Do the Data MergeWindow>Automation>Data Merge

Find your FileUse the fly-out menu to browse for your CSV file.

Either drag each header into the Text Box you’ve created or insert the Text Tool cursor into the Text Box, then click the header you want to place there. Repeat this step for each field you want to merge, adding punctuation where appropriate.

Populate the Text BoxPopulate your Text Box by either dragging fields into it or by placing a Text Tool cursor in the Text Box then clicking a field name.

Select Multiple RecordsSelect Multiple Records so that all your addresses can flow into multiple Text Boxes, then click Preview to see InDesign CS2 in action.

Once your Text Box is populated with the fields you want to merge, either click on the fly-out menu and select “Create Merged Document” or click the Create Merged Documents icon at the bottom of the Data Merge palette. In the Create Merged Documents pop-up window, select Multiple Records next to Records per Document Page. At this point you can Preview your Merged Document by clicking the checkbox called Preview Multiple Record Layout. When your document looks the way you expect it to, click OK. InDesign CS2 will create a second Untitled document with 3 columns and 10 rows of labels, adding additional pages as needed.