How to add a new field, or reorder existing fields, in your DesignMerge setup

This article describes the process of adding a new field, or adjusting the order of your data fields, for an existing DesignMerge DDF setup. When a new field has been added to a data file, or if the order of the data file has changed, you need to adjust the settings in your DesignMerge DDF settings so DesignMerge can detect this change. There are two options available for this process.


If the settings in your DDF are relatively simple, then you can run Data Source Setup to set up the DDF for the new data file. When you run a Data Source Setup on a document that was previously tagged with DesignMerge software, you will be presented with the following prompt:

Each of the available options are described below:

New Setup...

This option will run a brand new setup, and will clear out all of your existing Variable Link and Rule definitions.


This option cancels the setup operation. The existing DesignMerge setup will not be modified.

Select Data File...

This option will prompt you to select a new data file to merge from. The existing DesignMerge setup will not be modified.

Remap Data Fields...

This option will prompt you to choose the new data file, and then will attempt to re-map the existing Variable Link settings to the data fields in the selected file. With this option, any new fields that have been added to the data file will be marked as NEW in the list, as shown in the screen shot below:

Click OK and any existing Variable Links will be mapped to the new data field ordering. A set of new Variable Links will also be created for any NEW data fields.

Missing Fields in New Data File

If any of the data fields from the old file have been removed from the new data file (and you are using those Variable Links in the document), you will receive a warning message similar to the screen shot shown below:

Click the Edit Variable Links... button to open the Variable Links dialog. Then examine each of your Variable Links and remove or adjust any that are no longer valid.


If your DDF settings are more complex, with multiple rules and customized Variable Links, it may be better to simply add or reorder the Field settings for the DDF (so you don't have to recreate rules or customize Variable Link settings again). See below for more details.

Adjust Field Settings

To add a new field, or to reorder the fields for an existing DDF, please follow the steps below:

  1. First, open the document that will be using the new Field settings.
  2. Next, open the DesignMerge menu and select Setup > Field Names. This will open the Field Names dialog, as shown below:
  3. Use the Insert or Add buttons to add the new field. You many also reorder the fields in this list by dragging them to a new position. Just match the field positions here to the field positions in your new data file. An example of the Field Names dialog where a new field called "Customer Email" has been added to the end of the list is shown below:
  4. Once you have finished click OK to save the changes.

Create Variable Links for New Fields

Next you need to create a new Variable Link for each new field that you added.

  1. First, select DesignMerge > Setup > Variable Links to open the Variable Links dialog.
  2. Click the New button, and enter a name for the new Variable Link. You may prefer to give the Variable Link the same name that you used for your new field. Please note that this is not required - you can use any name you want for your Variable Link, and you can assign them to any defined field (see below for details).
  3. Now that you have created a new Variable Link, you need to assign the appropriate field to that new Variable Link. With your new Variable Link selected in the list on the left, use the Field pop-up menu on the right side of the dialog to select the field that you wish to assign. An example is shown below:
  4. Click OK to save the new settings. 
    In newer versions of DesignMerge software, it is possible to select the Field for the new Variable Link at the time that you create it using the Field/Function dropdown menu.
  5. The Variable Link will now be available for selection in the DesignMerge panel, and can be assigned to any text or picture element in your document.
  6. As a final step, perform a test merge to be sure the new Variable Link can be merged with the new data file. Before merging, confirm you have selected the data file that has the additional new field. For example, open the DesignMerge menu and choose Setup > Select data file
  7. Once you have confirmed the settings, save the document. If you are using a Named DDF, instead of the Document DDF, you may wish to export your DDF Set so that you have a backup copy. For more information, please see the What is a DDF Set? article.