Creating and Printing Multiple Forms Per Sheet
It is often necessary to create and print mailing labels (or similar kind of documents) multiple items per sheet. This can be easily accomplished with the AutoMailMerge™ plug-in for the Adobe® Acrobat®. The following tutorial provides instructions on creating multiple PDF documents by populating a PDF form template with data from a spreadsheet and then printing multiple documents per a single sheet of paper.
Data Description
We are going to use a business card template with fillable form fields and a CSV data file. You can download the sample PDF form and the corresponding CSV data file used in the tutorial.
What is Mail Merge?
"Mail merge" is a computer term describing the production of multiple documents from a single template form and a data file. This technique is used to create personalized letters, documents, bills and pre-addressed envelopes or mailing labels for mass mailings (or document creation) from a database of names and addresses. Using mail merge, all you have to do is create a single PDF form that contains information that is the same for each document. Next, add fillable form fields for the information that is unique for each copy of the document. The AutoMailMerge™ plug-in uses a PDF form as a template and takes input from a variety of data sources to populate form fields and generate output PDF documents.
Mail merge 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
Create a PDF document that contains only one label on the page. Use any text editor (for example, the Microsoft Word) to design a document and then save it as PDF file. Alternatively, print a desiged document into a PDF format by using the "Adobe PDF" printer. Make sure a page size in the template document is set to the dimension of the single label or card (for example, 4" by 2").
Create a PDF form
Step 2 - Add Interactive Form Fields
Open a PDF template in the Adobe® Acrobat® and use "Prepare Form" tool to add interactive text fields. See the following tutorial for step-by-step instructions on how to create PDF form fields in the Adobe® Acrobat®. The sample form used in this example has 3 text fields: "Name", "Address" and "Phone". Save changes to the PDF file once done editing the form.
Add from fields
IMPORTANT: If you want to place more than one text line in a PDF text field, then you have to set a "Multi-line" property for this particular form field when designing the form.
Set a Multiline property
Step 3 - Open a Mail Merge Wizard
Open a PDF form template that was created in the step 1.
Open a PDF form template
Select "Plug-Ins > Mail Merge..." from the main menu. The "Mail Merge" dialog will appear on the screen.
Open a mail merge dialog
Press the "Edit Settings..." button to start a mail merge wizard.
Start a mail merge wizard
Step 4 - Map Form to Data Fields
Click the "Browse..." button in the "Data Source" dialog.
Click the Browse button
Select an input data file. In this example, we are using a plain text CSV file. CSV file format is a widely used for data exchange of the spreadsheet-like data. It can be opened and edited by most spreadsheet applications including Microsoft Excel. They are simple to use and do not require any additional software. Select "Comma separated text file (*.csv)" from the list of available data source types:
Select a data file
Assign fields from a data source to PDF form fields by double-clicking on a form field name and selecting a corresponding data field from a list:
Specify a data field
Sometimes, it is necessary to fill a single PDF form field with data from multiple data fields. In the business card example, the "Address" field needs to contain a full address including city, state and zip information. Check the "Use a multiple-field expression to create a composite field" option. Use a multiple-field expression to fill it. Type the names of the data fields surrounded in "[..]" brackets into the "Enter expression" box:
Use a multiple-field expression to fill it
Click "Next >" in the "Data Source" dialog to proceed.
Click the Next button
Step 5 - Specify Field and Output Options
The "Specify Field Options" screen would appear. Check the "Flatten output PDF documents" option to make output to appear as a regular PDF document, not as a fillable PDF form. Click "Next >" to advance to the next screen.
Specify field options
The "Output Files" screen would appear. Click "Browse..." to specify an output folder.
Configure the plug-in to output a single "compound" document that will contain all business cards. Uncheck the "Save each copy of the filled form as a separate PDF document" option and check the "Output a compound document that will contain all filled forms" option. Enter a desired name for the output compound PDF file. Click "Next >" to advance to the next screen.
Specify output options
Press the "Next >" button multiple times on the following screens. Click "Finish" on the last "Advanced" screen to finish configuring the mail merge parameters.
Finish configuring the mail merge parameters
Step 6 - Start Mail Merge
Check the settings summary. Optionally, save the mail merge settings into the *.mms file for a 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
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.
Close the report dialog
Step 7 - Print Multiple Forms per Sheet
Once the processing is complete, the compound document will be automatically opened for viewing. Select "View > Page Display > Two Page Scrolling" from the menu to display multiple cards simultaneously.
Display multiple cards simultaneously
This is just for the better document viewing. It has no effect on the way the document is going to be printed. Download a sample output PDF document for the sample CSV data file used in this tutorials.
Inspect the document
Select "File > Print..." from the main menu of the Adobe® Acrobat®.
Print multiple forms per sheet
The "Print" dialog would appear. Click the "Multiple" button. Set the "Pages per sheet:" to "Custom..." and specify a desired number of pages per sheet ("2 by 4" for this example). Click "Print" to start printing.
Specify printing options
The advantage of this method is that it can print any desired number of labels per sheet on any paper size. Here is an example of the output with multiple business cards per sheet:
The example of the resulted printed sheet
Click here for a list of all step-by-step tutorials available.