Price Lists with the InDesign Place Command

This tutorial will show you how to paginate a price list using Excel data and InDesign’s Place command.

You can download the free project template from here.

Note: The Place command is the only way of importing Excel data directly into InDesign. It has a relatively limited feature set. This restricts its application to projects with only the simplest requirements.

Pagination combines the Place command’s ease of use with a much broader range of possibilities.

1. Preparing the Excel file

A basic spreadsheet is perfect for this method. Formatting such as text/cell color can be applied later in the process from within InDesign.

Images should be inserted at this stage (if required) by using Insert -> Picture.

excel settings

1.1 More complex spreadsheets

Sometimes a single basic spreadsheet is not enough to contain the complexity of a data model. Take a look at a better approach: Excel to InDesign with Pagination”.

2. Selecting a cell range

We now need to define the cells that we want to import. Do this by selecting the relevant data, right clicking and pressing Define name. We’ve called our range ‘MyName’:

define name range

This step isn’t essential but is recommended as a best practice. It’s also only supported for .xlsx files in InDesign CS6 versions and later.

Complete the process by saving and closing the Excel file.

3. Starting our InDesign document

Now open InDesign and create a new document. Check the Primary Text Frame option in the New Document dialog box to ensure that the text flows correctly from page to page. (This option is referred to as Master Text Frame in older versions of InDesign).

Also select the desired page orientation, column number and gutter size.

primary text frame

Clicking on OK should reveal our new working document:

new document

4. Linking InDesign and Excel

We can next change a setting that will link our InDesign document with our Excel spreadsheet. This linking isn’t enabled by default but vastly simplifies any subsequent updates. You’ll now be able to edit the Excel data and have changes reflected quickly and easily within your InDesign layout.

The required setting is found under File > Preferences > File Handlings. Here you’ll need to check the box marked Create Links When Placing Text and Spreadsheets.

create links preference

5. Deploying the Place Command

We’re now ready to add the spreadsheet to our InDesign file. Start by drawing a text frame with the Text tool and moving/resizing it to your desired location/area.

Now choose File > Place from the InDesign menu – or by using Ctrl+D on a Windows machine or Cmd+D on a Mac.

You’ll now see a new Place dialog box. Click on Show Import Options in the bottom-left corner:

indesign place options

A new Import Options dialog box will appear. We need to choose the range of cells that we want to import under the Cell Range heading. We should see our previous label, i.e., ‘MyName’.

choose name range

We then need to select the format for our data. We’ll use Unformatted Table in this example, but be sure to use Formatted Table if your spreadsheet includes images:

formatting options

Now click on OK to see the following result:

unformatted table

5.1 Importing

Importing spreadsheets into InDesign documents can be quite limiting. Take a look at a better approach: Excel to InDesign with Pagination”.

6. Styles

Our next step involves applying table styles.

table style

6.1 Try a better approach

To see how Pagination solution works, check out the tutorial:


  1. Edit your spreadsheet as shown in the tutorial.
  2. Send it to us at [email protected] with a sample of your project layout (pdf, indd, idml, etc.).
  3. Receive the document fully paginated.
Pagination: from any data source to documents.

Fast, flexible, and effective.

7. It’s done!

Now apply cell styles, and you’ve completed a successful import of Excel data using InDesign’s Place command.

cell style


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