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I have been searching for this for a long time but I can't seem to find an answer. So I would like to ask the community. I have been using Corel Draw for years and I found it to be amazing. But every time I find resources online, its for Adobe Illustrator. So I try it out. It's also great but has some things I really miss from Corel Draw (and a lot that I wish were available in Corel). I then learned that Illustrator InDesign and Photoshop together does a better job than Corel Draw. Now let's say I have to create 25 certificates with different names and photos. On Corel I would create a master layer and do a print merge of an excel sheet and paste in the photo. Simple and quick. I am trying to do the same with Illustrator but A) NO master layer B) Highly convoluted way to data merge (saw some tutorials - too many steps and didn't seem easy. had to write xml etc).

I didn't try InDesign but from what I have researched, it seems like InDesign is mostly about layout and typography so it won't be able to do what I want. I would like to be proven wrong.

At the moment, I am creating a basic template from AI and opening into Corel Draw and then using previous method. Can someone tell me a better way or is this the only viable (quick and easy) option?

  • I would like to point out that you can do this merge in illustrator too, using variables. Its just the magic requirement is multi-page which makes it more of a indesign thing. If you just have the front and back side done and its all in illustrator then do it in illustrator – joojaa Jun 4 at 11:59
  • Also illustrator merge inst very hard just use a script that imports csv. Basically its a one click solution. – joojaa Jun 4 at 12:04
  • Illustrator + Indesign + Photoshop does not do a better Job than CorelDraw, the skill of the user does. If you are proficient in Corel use Corel. Illustrator is the "equivalent" of Corel Draw. If you need more tools, like Photoshop, use Photoshop, if you need PhotoPaint use PhotoPaint. If you need a layout program use a layout program. – Rafael Jun 4 at 22:25
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You want InDesign.

InDesign can create a master page then use data merge to add names.

You will need to properly format the data merge though.


Most multi-page documents are simply easier to handle in InDesign. Yes you can use multiple artboards in Illustrator, but it's not the same. As you pointed out, AI has no "master page" feature, InDesign does. And Ai can get horribly, horribly, horribly slow the more artboards you add and the more objects you have to duplicate. There are, of course, a couple workarounds for this.. but workaround are workarounds and never really ideal, at least to me.

InDesign is a essentially "container" format. While it does have vector tools and will allow or vector art creation, primarily one would link to images from within InDesign. So, you can create a complex vector image in Illustrator, then link to that AI file on InDesign's Master Page and it would be reused on each page. One image - multiple uses with InDesign.

InDesign also exports to PDF with pretty much the same PDF engine Illustrator uses. So if Illustrator PDFs are working for you, so should InDesign PDFs. And you can always pen an InDesign-generated PDF in Illustrator. Vector tends to stay vector if you do go applying some internal raster effects in InDesign.

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  • looks like the InDesign DataMerge is closer to Corel's. But what about adding pictures and other design elements in InDesign. Since Corel is both a layout and a vector program will the output file in Indesign retain as layered editable vector (PDF at least) – Saud Kazia Jun 3 at 20:18
  • @SaudKazia InDesign is both a layout and vector application. The vector aspect is not nearly as robust as an actual vector editor (Illustrator), but InDesign does have vector drawing capabilities and tools and will allow linking to images if more robust construction is needed. I can't comment on how things relate to Corel.. it's been decades since I've touched a Corel product other than Painter. – Scott Jun 3 at 20:21
  • im talking about output in InDesign. Does it output to editable layered PDF (suppose if I want to edit in illustrator or its own proprietary format and raster files only) – Saud Kazia Jun 3 at 20:24
  • InDesign can export to PDF (using pretty much the same engine as Illustrator uses) In general, Adobe is Adobe.. they try and make things as uniform as possible. They aren't always 100% successful, but they try. – Scott Jun 3 at 20:25
  • Excellent I will give it a go. I guess I got my answer. – Saud Kazia Jun 3 at 20:25
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I would say use InDesign like the previous post said.

It can handle this task with it's eyes closed and make repeat work even easier if you set it up correctly from the start. If you want to go the extra mile, set up your paragraph and object styles with some GREP you will be laughing.

You can data merge with InDesign, both text and image from an excel sheet. Just place the certificate artwork on the master pages. The text and data merge content on the live page. If the artwork is getting complex, then I would Photoshop or Illustrator to create the background artwork and place it in. My preference would be illustrator for this job.

I would also suggest, when setting up the artwork, to base the data merge on the longest name, if you are unsure then just make a sensible guess. This way you can ensure the text size and format can be more accommodating for the longest ans shortest name

If you want to learn more, it check out InDesignsecrects.com This is great source of tutorials and conversations. Even articles that are 5-7 years old can still over some good insight.

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  • with Corel I would merge to new document and change the text as I desire. At the end I do want to create pages that can be individually edited as required – Saud Kazia Jun 3 at 20:21
  • GREP - is that like styles like in Microsoft Word and also in Corel (sometimes a God sent because I could then use short cuts to apply styles, I can click on and element and create a style and also I can search for all elements based on a style ) – Saud Kazia Jun 3 at 20:23
  • You can individually edit the text in InDesign after merging. It just comes down to what text you have on the master page and what isn't. I tend to place lines of section that wont be influences by the data merge in the masters. Only because if an amends comes in I edit on the master and it will cascade through out the doc. Then I jump into the individual pages and edit as I need to. – LemonJeBoum Jun 3 at 20:42
  • InDesign's Paragraph styles, Character styles and Object styles would be similar to your experience in word. GREP is sort for a next level up where you can apply specific formatting to specific text within your style. For example, I work in a design for pharma and health care and use a lot of scientific terms like HbA1c with the 1c subscript. I can set the GREP to pick out HbA1c and automatically subscript the 1c, which across an average of 50 - 100 pages of text can be a massive time saver – LemonJeBoum Jun 3 at 20:43

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