Product Sheets with the InDesign Place Command

This tutorial will show you how to use InDesign’s Place command to make product sheets that retain formatting from an Excel spreadsheet.

You can download the free project template from here.

Note: The ability to copy Excel formatting to an InDesign document can be convenient in many instances, although some control is lost as part of the process. The other Place command tutorial offers a greater level of control by applying formatting within InDesign.

Pagination overcomes conversion issues and accurately converts even the most complex spreadsheets. It can also combine multiple data sources, e.g., product information from Excel files and pricing information from your ERP export.

1. Preparing the Excel file

Let’s start by preparing our Excel file. Below you can see an example of a formatted spreadsheet that is a perfect candidate for this method:

excel settings

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

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 ‘mercedes’:

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.

2.1 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”.

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

4.1 Importing

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

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., ‘mercedes’.

choose name range

We then need to select the format for our data. We’ll use Formatted Table as our spreadsheet includes formatting and images:

formatting options

Selecting Formatted Table will also allow us to check the Include Inline Graphics box. This box is essential to including the spreadsheet’s images with the import.

formatting options


5.1 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.

6. It’s done!

Now click on OK to see the following result:

unformatted table

You’ve completed a successful import of Excel data using InDesign’s Place command!


Free Templates



indesign xml template

View more