I'm creating a card game, and have 220 cards to design and export as CMYK PDFs for offset printing. Each card will have the same design but different text. I've saved the text for each card in Excel. I want an easy way to transfer that data onto the cards, without having to enter data for each card individually.

From what I've found on here, it seems like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign have these capabilities. Are these the best tools for me to achieve what I need? Which is best? Could I even use a MS product such as Publisher and use mailmerge to achieve similar high quality, offset-print worthy results? So far I've only used Inkscape for my designs. Is it as easy as importing my Inkscape design into another tool, importing data and setting up variable fields, and clicking go?

Any pointers would be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


InDesign uses the Data Merge feature to pull text from XLS/CSV files and overlay this on top of an existing master artwork. So you have a 1-page InDesign file which is the actual card background artwork before text is flown in (quote: each card will have the same design), then set up Data Merge to extract the text content from a CSV file which is a text-only XLS export. See:


While InDesign is a superior data-merge application, Illustrator or Photoshop variable-features could also be useful to you - depending on some special strengths each of the applications. For example, Illustrator has powerful dynamic appearance features, such as being able to create a curved-corner rectangle stroke around a textframe which grows or shrinks with how much text is inside. I at least have some experience with Illustrator, you may be able to find Illustrator-centric information at this video here: https://youtu.be/eCBrK8tZAXQ


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