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How To Merge Data Into a Product Catalog

Part Two: Merging the Data

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To illustrate how this works, we're going to do a bare-bones merge into a blank template using Microsoft Publisher. If you have Microsoft Office, then you probably already have Microsoft Publisher installed on your computer. Otherwise, you can download a 60-day trial version for free. If you like it, you can purchase the program from Microsoft for $139.00. By the way, don’t worry if you have an older version of the program — it will work just fine. The version used in this example is actually Microsoft Office Publisher 2007.

  1. Launch Microsoft Publisher, and in the list of Publication Types, select Catalogs.

  2. On the File menu, click New.

  3. Under Publication Types, click Catalog. Then under Blank Sizes, select the Letter (Portrait) 8.5 x 11" template. At this time, you should be looking at a single blank page.

  4. On the Tools menu, point to Mailings and Catalogs, and click Catalog Merge. You should see the Catalog Merge Area outlined on the page. If you don’t see anything, click the top of the page to make it appear. This area is where you will arrange each field that is to be included in the catalog.

Step 1 of 3

  1. In the left pane under Select Product List, choose Use an Existing list.

  2. Down at the bottom of the left pane, click Next: Create or connect to a product list.

  3. Use the pop-up Catalog Merge Layout window to control the width and height of the data area, and how it is repeated on the page. For example, if you set it to 4 down and 2 across, you will have eight products per page, arranged in two vertical columns.

  4. With the layout set, again click Next: Create or connect to a product list.

  5. From the Select Data Source dialog box, navigate to your exported data file. Highlight the name of the file and click Open.

  6. Use the Catalog Merge Product List to fine-tune the data before it is merged with the template.

    • To sort the data, click any column header.

    • To create a multiple-level sort, click Sort (over on the right under Refine product list). You can specify up to three sorting fields, with each sorted in ascending or descending order. Then click OK to save the sorting order and return to the Catalog Merge Product List.

  7. If everything looks good, click OK to go to the Next step.

Step 2 of 3

This is the fun part, where you get to drag the fields to the Catalog Merge Area.

  1. Drag the Image field and drop it on the outlined Catalog Merge Area. You will see the image file name appear in each data area on the page.

  2. Now go ahead and drag over all the other fields you want to include.

    • To change the size or position of any field, click the field and drag it into position, or use the handles to change its size.

    • You can also change the font, size, alignment, and style, as you would with any Microsoft Word document.

    • Use the Preview controls at the bottom of the Field List to see how the other pages look. Make sure that you have provided enough room for long product names and descriptions. You may need to increase the size of some fields or decrease the size of the font.
  3. When you are ready to continue, click Next.

Step 3 of 3

  • Under Create merged publications, double-click Print Preview to see how your catalog looks so far. If the images are missing, you’ll have to take another look at how the path is specified in the data file.

That's about all there is to it. Now that you know how easy it is to merge data into a catalog template, you can turn your attention to the design of the publication, (which will be covered in another lesson). Meanwhile, you can experiment with the many templates included with Microsoft Publisher, or download others online.

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