Ok So my job is creating timetables for bus routes having them in DL leaflet form and A4 pdf from for online.

Currently I build them both individually (Which is obviously very time consuming) so I need to find a way of automating it. I've used data merge before to quicken mass date entry but I cant seem to get it to work for my timetables.

Anybody have any idea what would be the quickest way of entering this type of data via datamerge. My ideal situation would be to build a excel spread sheet, link it to both pdf and leaflet formats and it create 90% of the work for me, with me tweaking it to finish.

If I can get this working, Im going to have a much easier time.

This is how my timetables are set out:

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If anybody can help me out with any tips or tricks that would be great!

2 Answers 2


DataMerging and import excel file have one disadvantage. Once used the link between source and data in indd disappears.

To avoid that place excel file as any other object so it became visible in the "Links" panel. To do that go to Preferences -> File Handling and at the bottom check "create link when placing text or spreadsheet files".

Now every file will be linked to the source so what you need to do is to style the table in InDesign and change content in the Excel file itself (or just replace the old file with new one) and then just update the file in links panels.


Build the data in Excel create the InDesign document with all the formatting for the timetable Don't import the data the formatting will be lost, cut and paste the data from the spreadsheet into a text editor to convert it to a text file or place it into an empty text box in InDesign, convert the table to text with TAB delimiter copy the text then select where the text is to be placed into the final InDesign table and PASTE WITHOUT FORMATTING The new text will then retain the formatting of the existing table.

The second option is to do it with a XML workflow

  • A third option is to use EasyCatalog which is far the best solution for automating tables.
    – Loic
    Nov 3, 2016 at 9:21

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