Our client has a product range of ~1700 products separated into 7 categories. We want to make sure that we start artworking the catalogue using the most efficient methods.

Assuming that each product will have a different Name, Photo, Size, Material, Price and Product Code, how should we go about getting this information into InDesign so we don't have to manually copy and paste the information across for each of the 1700 products?

Ideally, we'd like to design a few page layouts and use these along with an automation feature to populate the catalog.

Should it be an XML import, a CSV data merge or a 3rd party plugin such as https://www.65bit.com/software/easycatalog/ ?

Thank you!

2 Answers 2


To me the best way to create a product catalogue in Adobe InDesign CC is making it in Adobe InDesign CC. You repeat in your question 1700 products as if this were a considerable amount to take into account for a mass production when in fact it's a small/small-medium size catalog. The most important part of the job you have to do it anyway, no matter how large and useful the automation application is: creating the design, manipulating the images, create the text styles, making the excel and PDF. Personally I don't see much sense in making an extra money expense buying an application and put a person to learn how to work with it for a single catalog.

Reason to choose a third party application outside InDesing to automate a catalogue production?

  • If your company makes a series of catalogs, four or five per year, such as clothing seasons. Large supermarket chains usually make a number of catalogs per week, in this case an automation application is necessary.
  • If your company make the same catalogue in several languages.
  • If your company make catalogues for several different clients.
  • If your company make catalogues with different prices or offers according to the state or region.
  • If there are several people participating in the creation of these catalogs in addition to the designers, such as product managers, heads of accounting, marketing managers. Some automation applications allow to create different users to participate only in certain areas of the catalog.

Doesn't sound like a complicated structure, so Data Merge via CSV importing should work. Plenty of videos and tutorials on this available.

  • Hi Lucian, thank you very much for your answer. We've found a couple of good tutorials and are happy that we can use InDesign's Data Merge feature to automatically replicate a layout and populate it with data from a spreadsheet. What we can't work out however, is how to create more than one layout. Sorry I am so bad at explaining this, but have you seen any tutorials that explain how one can populate a number of pages of products, each with a different layout? As it stands, we'll have an entire catalogue with every page exactly the same! Thank you very much again.
    – Boz
    Commented Feb 5, 2019 at 17:17

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