InDesign DataMerge Playing Card Example [Free Download]

Happy holidays! This season, I thought I'd give something to anyone interested in designing their own card games. You may recall I posted a hodgepodge collection of tutorials I found regarding the use of InDesign's DataMerge feature to automate much of the card layout process. I plan to make a video tutorial of my own soon, but for now here's a .zip file with a very basic example of a DataMerged deck of playing cards.

Open DataMergeExample.indd in InDesign CS6 or DataMergeExample.idml in older versions of InDesign. You'll find empty text blocks and image blocks. It looks like there's nothing there, but there is! These are placeholders for the text and images that DataMerge pulls from the the .CSV found in the Assets folder. When you check the Preview checkbox in the DataMerge panel, you'll see each of these placeholders populated. (BTW, I just used a default font for Mac: Times, which can be replaced with Times New Roman if you wish.)

This is also where you will find .EPS files for the suits and face cards. I like to use .EPS for vector files since they can be resized to any scale without losing resolution. So far as I've found, a .CSV is most reliable  for DataMerge if it is in the same folder as all of the card assets. Theoretically you can use the .CSV to populate from a deeper directory, but I haven't been able to do so reliably.

Here are the InDesign files for the suits and faces, saved in .INDD and .IDML formats.

I've already exported a DataMerged InDesign file which you can find in the Renders folder. There you will also find a folder with all of *those* cards exported to flat .EPS files. It is from a folder like this that I pull individual card assets for use in example diagrams or print-and-play files.

Here is are the original source files from the Noun Project along with legalese for their specific licenses.

You can also find the original Google spreadsheet here, if you're curious. I hope you find this useful as you design your own card games. If you dig it, I can post some more packages with more complex card decks inspired by CCGs.


  1. Cool! Cant wait for your video tutorial soon! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I actually have a program I wrote to do this kind of work. It does similar things, except you can do stuff like embed tags in content field that can get replaced with graphics. I will have to give this a look -- if datamerge can do everything I need, I should punt on the cardbuilder app. If not, I really ought to get the source out where people can actually do something useful with it.

  3. Sure, it can't hurt to have another app out there to do stuff like this, especially if it is cheaper than buying an InDesign license!


Post a Comment


Show more