I made a price book for my company last year when I was completely new to InDesign. The book contains many two page spreads that are saved as PDFs, and are tables that I created in a separate indd document.

Sadly, each time there is a price change, I have to change original indd, then save as PDF then update link in the final indd document. The price book has been saved as different versions, like for web, black and white, etc. so updating everything is a nightmare.

I also have an excel version that is is a completely different layout, so I am updating that each time as well. I know there has to be a better way to keep all of this straight and make updates in one place.

Is there a way of streamlining all of this without starting from scratch?

I am working with InDesign CC 2015.

  • 1
    If your going to do some sort of ongoing publication you should probably use the XML features of InDesign then you would just update the relevant XML and everything would update automatically.
    – joojaa
    Apr 3, 2018 at 8:01

2 Answers 2


As Scott mentioned you could use linked Excel file.


For the love of your mental well being don't do that. NEVER EVER.
Excel pricelists is a place where happy leprechauns live.

What I propose is using external plugins for pricelist/catalog making. I use and recommend Incatalog from EmCatalog (for the sole reason I needed to implement prices on already existing catalog) And creating whole content in one file/book

Such plugins work in a way that you mark in indesing "key" (be it part number, description or any data you pair price to item in excel) and then set place when you want it corresponding price to be in a style you wish.

Then just load pricefile and update document (or certain table or page). It's easy, fast and after checkup on some human mistakes foul proof.

In extra addition it will also create a log file that will tell you item in excel file that are not present in your indesign file (so as a designer you can be aware of extra content that will need to be added) or items that don't have price (a red light for exporting final files).

On my 10K item pricelist I've cut time from 1 month (around 200 work hours) of manual changes to 1 day.

  • Well yes you shouldnt let data drive you but let the data drive the document.
    – joojaa
    Apr 3, 2018 at 12:21
  • Can you explain why linking an Excel file is bad?
    – AndrewH
    Apr 3, 2018 at 14:30
  • @AndrewH Pricelists in Excel. I'm not talking about simple table with 4 columns and hard values. I'm talking formulas, converters, 10 sheets and so on. Linking such file bring problem as file in the link pallet will be always named the same, so change to any sheet will affect every instance with "relink" and having 2MB excel linked 50 times will greatly slow down InDesign itself. Not to mention the problem with reformatting table with every "relinking". Apr 3, 2018 at 14:46
  • @AndrewH I do agree that linking InDesign to an Excel workbook can do odd things at times, which is why I mentioned it in my answer. It can be unpredictable when you update the links. If possible it's best to leave the Excel file as a separate thing and merely update your Indesign table data manually. Of course using XML for Indesign gets around this.
    – Scott
    Apr 3, 2018 at 17:25


You can use the Excel file.. import that to an InDesign document with tables for formatting.. save that INDD file for the tables....

Place the INDD file of the tables inside the layout INDD file (you can place INDD inside INDD. There's no need for PDF).

So, when data changes the Excel file gets updated, then....
• Edit Excel File →
→ InDesign tables document (open, update link, check formatting, save) →
→ InDesign layout (update links) •

The only real hiccup is the Excel to INDD link. InDesign has a habit of removing formatting when you update the link. But if you utilize table, cell, paragraph, and character styles reapplying formatting should be a quick thing.

Beyond this, you could trim workflow further by just ignoring the Excel file if it's not needed elsewhere and updating the InDesign tables document directly. Or by copy/pasting the InDesign tables into the layout file so you are only dealing with a single InDesign file.

(Full disclosure, I tend to use separate INDD files for full page tables, it just makes things easier for me and they are merely treated as links in layout files.)

  • Great! I wasn't sure why I converted to PDF in the first place. I will use the Indd files in place of the PDFs. My table in the INDD document takes up two pages, it is split down the middle. How do I paste a two page INDD file into a two page INDD file? I can only get it to accept the second page. When you say you use separate INDD files for full page tables, would you split up a table that covers two pages and add them separately?
    – TamStu
    Apr 2, 2018 at 20:53
  • @TamStu not really sure I understand. If it's a two page spread.. select all, copy, switch files, paste. If you are trying to paste into a text frame, I wouldn't. But you have to use teh Type tool... put it inside the text frame containing the table, select all, copy, switch documents, insert text cursor somewhere, paste.
    – Scott
    Apr 2, 2018 at 20:58
  • Perfect! I was using the "place" to put it in the document. I was just making things more complicated than they had to be. Thanks for all your help!
    – TamStu
    Apr 3, 2018 at 14:35

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