Grouping Output Mail Merge PDFs By Value
This tutorial shows how to create and group mail merge output files into multiple compound documents based on a data field value. This is the way to combine files that belongs to the same logical group into a separate PDF file. For example, this method can be used to combine invoices for each company into a single PDF document. The mail merge is performed using the AutoMailMerge™ plug-in for the Adobe® Acrobat®.
Tutorial Overview
We are going to generate multiple invoices by filling a PDF form template with data from an Excel spreadsheet. Each data row will produce a single invoice (PDF file).  The output files will be grouped into multiple compound PDF documents based on the value of the "Company" data field. Each compound PDF document will be named using the text from the "Company" field and contain all invoices that belongs to a corresponding company.
Grouping output PDF forms into compound documents
Data Description
The tutorial is using an Excel spreadsheet as a mail merge data source. The spreadsheet contains 14 rows of data (i.e. for 14 invoices) for 4 different companies. The data from each row will be used to populate a PDF form template and produce a separate invoice (PDF file). All invoices that belong to the same company will be saved into a separate compound PDF document. The output from the mail merge will be 4 compound PDF files that contain all invoices for each company.
Mail merging process
You need a copy of the Adobe® Acrobat® along with the AutoMailMerge™ plug-in installed on your computer in order to use this tutorial. You can download trial versions of both the Adobe® Acrobat® and the AutoMailMerge™.
Step 1 - Create a PDF Form
Start the Adobe® Acrobat® application. Select the "Tools" from the main toolbar. Select the "Prepare Form" tool to open a form editor. Select an existing PDF file that will be as used as a template for the PDF form. It is common to design documents in the text editor such as Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, or in any other similar application and then export it into PDF format. The "Prepare Form" tool is used only to add fillable forms fields to allow using the document in the mail merge process.
See how to create interactive PDF form in the Adobe® Acrobat®.
Create a PDF form
We have placed two text fields on the PDF form. One for "Company" and one for "Amount" field:
Place text fields into a PDF form
Click "Save file" to save changes to the file. Now a previously static PDF document became an interactive PDF form.
Save file
Step 2 - Prepare Data in the Microsoft Excel
Prepare the data in the Microsoft Excel. Below is an example spreadsheet that contains data for 14 invoices. There are 3 data fields (columns) in the spreadsheet: "Record", "Company" and "Amount".
We are going to use "Company" field in the spreadsheet to combine all invoices for each company into a separate compound PDF document. Note that this function  works on the field value change. All records that should be saved into the same compound document need to be located next to each other in the spreadsheet. Make sure to group records accordingly to produce the correct results. The advantage of this method is that it makes possible to produce multiple compound files for each company simply by sorting records into a required order. For example, it makes possible to produce multiple documents for each company by grouping invoices for each month.
Prepare data in the Microsoft Excel
Step 3 - Open a PDF Form
Start the Adobe® Acrobat® application and using "File > Open..." menu open a PDF form template that was prepared.
Open a PDF form
Step 4 - Open the "Mail Merge" Dialog
Select "Plug-Ins > Mail Merge..." to open the "Mail Merge" dialog.
Open the Mail Merge dialog
Step 5 - Edit Mail Merge Settings
Press the "Edit Settings..." button to configure the mail merge parameters.
Edit mail merge settings
Step 6 - Select a Data Source
Press the "Browse..." button in the "Data Source" screen to select an input data file.
Select an input data
Select "Microsoft Excel Worksheet (*xls.*xlsx)" from the list:
Select Microsoft Excel Worksheet
Select spreadsheet file that was prepared at step #2. Click "Open".
Select a source file
Select a sheet from the list. Click "OK".
Select a source sheet
Step 7 - Map Form to Data Fields
Click "Guess Mapping" in the "Data Source" screen. The software will automatically select field correspondence based on field names.
Click Guess Mapping
The confirmation dialog will appear on the screen. Click "Yes" to proceed.
Confirm the operation
The dialog showing the number of field mappings will be displayed. Click "OK".
Close the reporting dialog
Step 8 - Examine the Field Mappings
Examine the field mappings that have been guessed and click "Next >" to advance to the next screen.
Examine the field mappings
Step 9 - Specify Field Options
Optionally, use the "Specify Field Options" screen to control if output form fields should remain editable or not. Make sure to check the "Flatten output PDF documents" option to make output documents non-editable. Click "Next >" to advance to the next screen.
Specify field options
Step 10 - Specify Output Options
Use the "Select Output Options" screen to control where and how to save output PDF documents. Check the "Output a compound document that will contain all filled forms" option to create a single output PDF document. This option can be used with or without generating separate output documents for each data source record. Check the "Save each copy of the filled form as a separate PDF document" option to create separate output documents for each data source record.
Check the Output a compound document option
Check the "Create a separate compound document when value of the field changes" option to produce multiple compound document with files grouped based on the text in the selected data field. Select a data field that will be used (we are using "Company" data fields in this example):
Check the Create a separate compound document option
Check the "Create multiple compound documents with no more than" option to limit the size of the single compound file to a specific number of records. Set a limit number of forms per file. It is recommended to reduce the size of the single compound document that can be potentially very large. Large files are slow to generate and are typically hard to handle.
Limit the output PDF document
The compound document file name(s) can be customized by using text from one or more data fields. The values from the last data record stored in the compound file can be included into the file name. Simply type a data field name in square brackets. For example, use the following syntax to insert a value from "Company" field into a compound document name: "CompoundDocument_[Company].pdf". Make sure to always specify a ".pdf" file extension at the end of the file name.
Specify output file naming
Click "Browse..." to specify an output folder. Click "Next >" to proceed.
Specify output folder
Skip the rest of the screens by clicking the "Next>" button multiple times, click "Finish" on the last screen.
Finish specifying
Step 11 - Save Settings
Optionally, save mail merge settings into the *.mms file for later reuse by pressing the "Save Settings" button. Use the "Load Settings" button to load them back later. Click "OK" to advance to the mail merge process.
Save settings
Step 12 - Start Processing
Press the "Run Mail Merge" button in the "Confirm Processing" dialog to start a mail merge process.
Start the mail merge process
The "Mail Merge Results" dialog will appear once a mail merge is completed. Click "OK" to close this dialog and open an output folder.
Open an output folder
Step 13 - Examine Output Files
Examine output files by opening them in the Adobe® Acrobat®. The 14 invoices have been grouped and saved into 4 separate compound PDF documents. The company name is used to name the files:
Examine output files
Compound PDF documents file naming
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