How to do a mail merge in Adobe InDesign

You can use a mail merge to personalize documents for different recipients.

Our step-by-step tutorial explains how to do a mail merge in Adobe InDesign. To make it easy for you to test the process, we’ve provided a free InDesign and data template.

How to do a mail merge in Adobe InDesign

How data merging works in InDesign

A mail merge consists of an Adobe InDesign document and a data source (e.g., a Microsoft Excel list) containing the recipient data. By merging the two files, the recipient data can be automatically be transferred into the InDesign document.

InDesign document

InDesign document

The starting point is an InDesign document without personalized elements.

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Excel data source

Data source

A table containing all recipient data, such as first name, last name, and salutation.

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Merging files

Merging files

Adobe InDesign will merge the recipient data with your document.

Create a mail merge letter directly online

Make merges easier with the free Mail Merge Letter Generator

You can create a mail merge letter online using our free Mail Merge Letter Generator. Simply upload your Adobe InDesign document as PDF and the recipient data as CSV file, and the mail merge letter will be created automatically.

Create a mail merge letter online for free

How to do a mail merge in Adobe InDesign - Step by Step:

Download InDesign and Data Template for free
Create document in InDesign
Step 1

Create the layout in Adobe InDesign

To do a mail merge in Adobe InDesign, the first thing you need to do is design your letter. You can create it from scratch or download our free InDesign template.

For now, all text that needs to be personalized, such as the address or salutation, can be substituted with placeholders. The placeholder text will be replaced with the recipient data from your data source.

Step 2

Create a data source

"Data source" means a table containing recipient data. You can create the table using Microsoft Excel or a similar tool and export it as a CSV file.

It's important that the first row of the table has a meaningful column name such as "First name". If you don’t want to create these names yourself, download and use our free data template.

Create data source
Merge data source with InDesign
Step 3

Merge the data source with Adobe InDesign

Return to your InDesign layout to merge the data source with your document.

  • Open the Data Merge panel via Window → Utilities → Data Merge.
  • In the "Data Merge" panel, click the menu icon in the top bar and choose "Select Data Source".
  • In the next dialog box, locate the CSV file you created (or our data template) and click "Open".
There you go! You’ve linked your data source to your letter.

Step 4

Insert personalization

Now it's time to place each data field on your InDesign layout. The "Data Merge" panel lists all the column names from the data source.

  • Click in any text frame, place the cursor where you want to add personalized text and select the desired field in the "Data Merge" panel. You can also drag and drop fields into a text frame.

Personalize mail merge letter
Show preview
Step 5

Show preview

Adobe InDesign provides a preview for allows you to check the personalized data attached to each recipient.

  • To preview, select the "Preview" checkbox in the "Data Merge" panel.
  • The InDesign layout will populate the fields with the records from the data source. You can navigate between the different recipients using the arrows.

Step 6

Export the mail merge letter as PDF

Once you are satisfied with your personalization, you can either export it as a PDF or create a new InDesign document containing all the personalized letters.

  • Export mail merge letter as PDF: In the "Data Merge" panel, click the menu icon in the top bar and choose "Export as PDF".
  • Create mail merge letter as an InDesign file: To create a new InDesign document with embedded recipient data, click the menu icon in the "Data Merge" panel and choose "Create Merged Document...".
That's how easy it is to do a mail merge in Adobe InDesign!

Export mail merge letter as a PDF

Problems with mail merge in Adobe InDesign

Creating a mail merge letter in Adobe InDesign can take a lot of time – but the free Mail Merge Letter Generator makes it a snap! You can simply upload a PDF and create a mail merge letter online in seconds.

Create a mail merge letter online for free
Large files

Large files: Export a mail merge with high-resolution graphics takes a long time with Adobe InDesign.

Paid program

Paid program: If you don't use InDesign, you'll need to purchase an expensive subscription from Adobe first.

Complicated postprocessing

Complicated post-processing: You can't use InDesign to add additional recipients or edit existing records after the fact.

Send mail merge letters directly by post

To simplify the delivery of your mail merge letters, the Online Post Service Pingen offers the perfect solution! Instead of printing, packaging, and taking your mail merge letters to the post office, submit them directly online to Pingen. Your letters will be processed automatically and reliably delivered via the local postal service.

Learn more about Pingen
Send mail merge letters with PingenLetterLetter