How to prepare a Microsoft Excel file for DesignMerge

This article describes how to export a Microsoft Excel file for use with DesignMerge software. The article covers all of the steps necessary to export a file in a format appropriate for all versions of DesignMerge software.


First, follow the steps below to prepare the data for use with DesignMerge:

  1. Place all of the data in a single worksheet in the Excel file.
  2. Format the data.
    Please note this does not refer to the styling of the text (such as Font or Point Size), but to the format of the data (for example: the number and order of the columns; whether text should be in Upper Case, Lower Case, or Title Case; whether numbers should include any decimal digits; whether any formulas should be applied; etc.)
  3. Sort the data.
    If you are preparing this data to produce variable data pages, sort the data in the order in which you wish it to be processed. If you will be using this data to produce variable data pages that will be cut & stacked, sort the data in the order you wish it to appear after the pages have been cut and stacked. 
  4. Export the data to a delimited text file format.
    For instructions to export the data, continue to the next set of steps.


Next, follow the steps below to export the data in the worksheet to a delimited text file:

  1. Open and display the worksheet.
    In Excel, display the worksheet that contains the data you wish to export.
  2. Open the File menu, and select Save As.
  3. Select a delimited text file format for the Format. Use one of the formats described below:

    Preferred Format: Select CSV UTF-8 (Comma-Delimited) (.csv), if available. This format will support all characters, include special Unicode accented characters:

    Alternate Format: As an alternative, select Comma Separated Values (.csv) or Tab Delimited Text (.txt). Either of these formats work well for most applications, but will support only standard ASCII text values.

    Unicode Alternate Format: If the preferred CSV-UTF-8 format is not available on your system, AND, if you need to support Unicode characters, you may save the file as UTF-16 Unicode Text (but this will require a second conversion step, described later).

  4. Save the text file.
    Specify a name and location for the delimited text file and click Save.
  5. Close the file.
    If prompted to save the file again, you can choose Don't Save. You can close the file without saving it again.
  6. If you saved the data in a UTF-8, CSV, or Tab Separated format:
    The .txt or .csv file is ready for use with DesignMerge!
    If you saved the data in the UTF-16 Unicode Text format:
    Continue to the next set of steps to convert this data into UTF-8.


If you selected UTF-16 Unicode Text as the delimited text file format, convert the file to the UTF-8 Unicode Text format. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the UTF-16 Unicode Text file in a text editing application.
    Use an application that provides the ability to convert the text to the UTF-8 Unicode Text format (for example, use BBEdit on Macintosh or Notepad++ on Windows).
  2. Convert and save the file as a UTF-8 Unicode Text file.
    If available, choose to include the BOM, which will allow the DesignMerge Setup utility to recognize the encoding or data type of this file as UTF-8 Unicode.

Note: There are also plenty of free, online conversion utilities that can convert your UTF-16 file into UTF-8 format. Just do a Google search for "Unicode UTF Converter for Free".