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I'm trying to set up a book of song lyrics with a two-column layout. I'd like to pack as many songs as a page as will fit, so I tried doing a data merge with multiple records per page.

This works great, but wastes space because it forces only one song per column:

enter image description here

Since each song has a different length, I tried making the lyrics section a variable height using Auto-Sizing:

enter image description here

But when I do that, the resulting document overlaps a lot:

enter image description here

Is there a way to use auto-sizing height but have it not overlap?

2

Wellp... You can still use Data merge, or at least part of it. The data merge functionality just will not output the text the way you want.

This method is similar to just placing a text document.

What you need to do:

  1. Install the InlineMerge.jsxbin script

    1. Install InlineMerge script by Loïc Aigon. Download link is at the bottom of that article.
    2. I also put the script at the bottom of this answer.
    3. In Indesign, open panel Window > Utilities > Scripts....
    4. Expand folder named: User.
    5. Right click the User folder and choose Reveal in finder.
    6. In finder, open Scripts Panel folder and stick the script file there.
    7. When you return to indesign, you should see the script in the Script panel, inside the User folder.
  2. Set up the document:

    1. First of all, setup the Indesign Data merge
      • Select the data source
      • or
      • Update data source
    2. Edit your master page to have actual columns
      • Layout > Margins and columns...
      • This will help with the text flow later.
    3. Make a text frame that fills one of the columns and fill it with your Data merge placeholders.
    4. Give the Data merge placeholders appropriate Character styles or Paragraph styles
    5. Save the current document, just in case...

      • The script works in relatively desructive way, as it makes all the changes to your current document. You can undo it, but it's worth it to save just in case. Especially if it crashes, or you just can't wait for it to finish.

      Document should look something like this:

      enter image description here

Run the script:

When you're ready to run the script, select the text frame and double click the script in the Scripts panel.

Note that the script may easily choke if you have more than, say... 500 lines of data. If you wait it out, it should pull through eventually.

You'll probably end up with something like this:

enter image description here

The text will obviously overflow your text frame, so click the red + on the bottom right and then Shift+click the column on the right.

Pressing shift will tell Indesign to make as many pages as is required to fit all the text.

Now from this moment on, you can use the Paragraph styles created earlier to style the text and tighten the text flow with the Keep options if necessary.


The script: inlineMerge.jsxbin

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  • I failed to mention something, because I thought it wasn't necessary. Auto sizing works with this script. There might be a situation where that is also needed. Like, for example: what if you want to give the number a solid color background? You could put that into its own text frame, auto size the text frame, give it bg color and cut&paste it inside the "main" text frame. Another valid way would be to use a table. – Joonas Mar 30 '15 at 7:25

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