Apologies if this has already been answered-- I looked and was unable to find anything that addressed my specific issue.

My question will make more sense if I briefly explain what I am trying to accomplish first: I am working on a directory of information about professional licensing requirements for various occupations. It is lengthy and has to be updated regularly, which is why I'm trying to streamline the process as much as possible. To get the updated information I need, I must request it from a large number of different agencies. Some of this information is things like "How many X occurred in year Y?" (which will just be a few numbers-- a fairly consistent number of characters), but some is things like "Describe the process of doing X" (the answers I receive for these might vary wildly in terms of their length).

The plan is to create a form in Acrobat and distribute it to the various agencies that will be providing me updated information. The responses will be compiled into a csv file, which I'll use to do a data merge in InDesign to get the necessary information into the publication layout.

There needs to be at least one page for each individual listing (i.e., each different occupation), but it is fine if listings span multiple pages. So, the page layout is set up for the data merge such that I have an <> field at the top for the heading, then various fields for the other information to be included. I have it set up as facing-page spreads, because it will eventually be distributed both online and in print.

I plan to use smart text reflow to accommodate the fact that some of the fields will contain information that might vary in length pretty dramatically from one listing to the next. This is where I've started encountering a problem.

The data merge works fine, but smart text reflow refuses to delete the extra, blank right-side page for the listings where the text is short enough to fit on just a single page. So I wind up with a bunch of spreads with blank pages. If I delete the right-side page before initiating the merge, then smart text reflow doesn't work, and the longer listings wind up with overset text.

This happens whether I try it from the master page or not. Before anyone asks, I do have smart text reflow enabled, "delete empty pages" turned on, and "limit to primary text frames" turned off. Whether I have "preserve facing-page spreads" turned on or not does not appear to make any difference. Both my master pages and document pages are set to allow shuffling. I've tried messing with a bunch of other settings, too, but those seem like to most obviously relevant ones.

Does any one have any idea what I might be doing wrong, or how to fix this issue? I'd also accept suggestions for other ways to accomplish the same basic goal. (However, my workplace bureaucracy makes purchasing any add-ons basically impossible, and even downloading anything for free is a huge pain since no one in my office has admin privileges, and we have to put in a ticket with the IT folks across town to have anything new installed. So, ideally I'm looking for a solution that doesn't involve anything other than standard Adobe and/or Microsoft Office programs.)


  • 2
    Hi. Although you have clearly made a great effort to describe very precisely your issue, I'm still not sure I understand where your trouble lies. Would it be possible to edit your question and add a couple of screenshots (normal view + invisible characters on), before and after merging? That would help...
    – Vinny
    Apr 5, 2019 at 6:24

1 Answer 1


I would do it just as you have described but instead of using straight data merge I would use the free InDesign Script called InLineMerge. With InLineMerge you can set up your data merge fields inside a primary text frame and once you start your merge it creates one long text frame with one data set after the other. To get each new data set to start on a new page you will just need to put a page break at the end of your data merge template before you run it. I hope this helps!

I do not think you will have any trouble loading the script as it isn't a separate program. you just need to download the file and load in InDesign.

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