How to merge variable data



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Variable data printing allows printers to create mail that is tailored to each individual recipient. For example, in a run of 1000 post cards, each post card is printed with the unique address and custom greeting for each recipient.

This tutorial teaches you how to take a postcard and a list of ten addresses and combine them into ten postcards with custom addresses.

This is definitely the most complicated tutorial, so if this is your first time using PDF Snake, you may want to try one of the simpler tutorials first:


Create and impose sheets of 4-up post cards with addresses, ready to be cut and mailed.

1. Prepare the address list.

The addresses have been printed to a PDF document, with one address per page. We'll use PDF Snake to transform this address list into a format that's compatible with postcards.

Download the address list.
Click a page below to download the address list.

Open PDF Snake.
Click the PDF Snake logo below to open PDF Snake in a new window. Keep this tutorial window and the PDF Snake window open and side by side.

Open the address list.
In the PDF Snake window, click Browse to Begin, then choose the address-list.pdf which you downloaded in step 2.

After opening, address-list.pdf your PDF Snake window will look similar to this:

On the left side is the toolbox. This is where we choose imposing tools and settings.
On the right side is the preview. PDF Snake always displays a preview of what the document will look like before you download it. PDF Snake constantly refreshes the preview as you add imposing steps and change settings.

Let's transform the address list into a document that can be overlaid onto the postcards. The final address list will look like this:

The blank pages will be overlaid onto the fronts of the postcards, because we don't want to add any variable data to the fronts of the post cards.

The addresses will be overlaid onto the back of the postcards.

Insert Blank Pages.
In PDF Snake's toolbox, click Shuffle.

Enter the following for pages:

Lets dissect group 1: X 1:

group 1: tells PDF Snake to repeat the pattern that follows for every page in the document. In this case, we want to insert a blank page in front of every single page, so our group size is a single page, hence 1.

X tells PDF Snake to insert a blank page, and the final 1 tells PDF Snake to insert the first page from the group.

The group command is easier to understand with a larger group size. For example, group 2: 2, 1 will swap all the even pages with all the odd pages.

The Shuffle tool is the most difficult tool in PDF Snake to understand. It takes practice to master. More details can be found in the online help, but let's continue with this tutorial for now.

Crop Addresses.
The address list contains a ton of white space that makes it harder to work with. Let's crop out the white space we don't need.

In the toolbox, click Add Step and then click Crop.

Enter crop values.
In the crop tool, enter the following values:


Download the cropped address list.
Click to download the cropped address list.

We're half-way done. We're finished preparing the address list. The address list is now ready to be overlaid onto 10 post cards front and back.

Click X to close the cropped address list document.

2. Impose the postcards.

Click the image below to download the postcard.

In PDF Snake, open the file post-card.pdf you just downloaded.

Make ten copies of the postcard.
This document contains the front and back of a single post card. We want to send ten post cards, so we need to make ten copies of the front and back. We'll use the shuffle tool to do that.

Click the Shuffle tool in the toolbox.

Enter the following:

10 * all can be read as "ten times all the pages."

Overlay the addresses.
In PDF Snake's toolbox, click Add Step and then click Overlay.

Then click Choose File and choose the file we prepared earlier: address-list-Shuffle-Crop.pdf.

The addresses appear in the top left corner of each back page. Let's move them to a better location. Enter these values:


Impose the postcards.
The post cards are nearly ready to print, but if we printed the current document, we'd print only one postcard per sheet of card stock, which would waste lots of paper. Lets impose the postcards 4-up on letter-size card stock so we don't waste any paper.

In PDF Snake's toolbox, click Add Step and then click Grid.

Enter the following values for Grid:

The document is now ready to print. Click to download the the document and send it to your printer.


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