I print decals. A lot of them. Especially this time of year (summer sports, back-to-school, etc.)

It'd make my job a lot easier if I could import a CSV list of names into two predefined artboards, one for production, and one for a proof.

Is this possible? ActionScript maybe?


2 Answers 2


Use variables within Illustrator.

Variables are designed so that you create a basic layout and designate what text is to be changed with each instance. You then link to an external document containing that list of items to use in the steps, in your case the CSV file.

Here's a link to the Adobe Help Files explaining the use of variables within Illustrator: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/illustrator/cs/using/WS714a382cdf7d304e7e07d0100196cbc5f-62a2a.html

Note the help files will tell the user to select Import, but there is no import in the menus... you want Load Variable Library and not "import".

  • "In the Variables panel, select Import." can't follow this. "Import" isn't anywhere in the UI. Been searching forever and eventually gave up, googled it, and got here. I've got the most up to date version of Illustrator 2023 and also tried 2022, 2021 and 2020; no "import" in sight.
    – Justin
    Feb 2, 2023 at 0:16
  • Found it by selecting "load variable library" in the top right options of the variable panel
    – Justin
    Feb 2, 2023 at 0:18
  • @Justin .. wouldn't be the first time Adobe failed to correct for actual terminology. Glad you found it. Even going back so far as CS6 it's "load" not "import". I didn't review the help files back in 2014. Thanks for pointing this out. I've updated this answer accordingly.
    – Scott
    Feb 2, 2023 at 0:39

You can use this script called VariableImporter.jsx to import CSV or tab-delimited TXT files as variables:


However, importing variables is just a single step, the rest would be actions that you create which process your collection of data records.

  • 1
    You know, I got this account started to post this answer, but when I 'registered' it again or something, it was never able to connect the one from which this comment is from with this 'one-time' one..
    – Silly-V
    Aug 8, 2016 at 2:51

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