I am making flashcards using Illustrator and I'd like to select only a one character in a text and set it as variable. I will then populate that letter with a dataset.

This one character is different since it's bold and has a color, example:

The equivalent letter in Katakana '[VARIABLE]'.

Whenever I select the letter and Make Text Dynamic it takes the whole sentence as variable.

I'd like to precise that I've never used Illustrator at this depth so a detailed explanation would help.

As the title explain, ho can I set a variable on the selected text only?

  • In Illustrator each variable needs to be split into their own textframe. You could get around it by scripting... Though I'm not aware of any scripts that would do exactly what you need. There is a script for Indesign called InlineMerge, which does this.
    – Joonas
    Apr 28, 2019 at 23:33
  • 1
    I wrote that last comment pretty late last night and I now realize I kinda sorta lied. In Indesign, you can stick multiple variables inside one text frame and fill it with data merge without having to resort to using scripts. The InlineMerge script can be useful in very specific cases. If you decided to use Indesign to do this, you wouldn't need any extra scripts to do it. — What I said about Illustrator still stands though...
    – Joonas
    Apr 29, 2019 at 8:49
  • @Joonas Perfect! I'll use Indesign then, since it's a direct response to my question you can post it. I'll be sure to accept it.
    – Horai Nuri
    Apr 29, 2019 at 9:12

1 Answer 1


In Illustrator each variable needs to be split into their own textframe. The best way to get around the issue is to use Indesign instead, in which you can stick multiple variables inside a single text frame.

Indesign uses placeholder text <<variable name>> that gets replaced when the data merge document is created.

Another big difference between Indesign and Illustrator is that you don't create the variables inside Indesign like you can do in Illustrator. In Indesign you prepare the data as a .csv file, in which the first row defines the variable names. The rest you manage from the Window > Utilities > Data Merge... panel (import, export, update, preview).

Indesign data merge workflow:

  1. Prepare the .csv file.
    • First row defines variable names
    • After that each row is a single data set
    • You can read a bit more on data merge here. It also has a good example snippet that shows how to format the csv file.
  2. Load the data source using the corner menu
  3. Activate a text frame and click a variable to drop in the placeholder. You can also drag it from the data merge panel.
  4. There's two routes to exporting in the panel corner menu:
    1. Export to PDF
    2. Create merged document
  5. If you make changes to the csv file you need to update the data source from the corner menu.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.