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How does Merge work?

How PPTMerge Works
PPTMerge has two modes: Slides and Presentations.

Slides mode

PPTMerge starts with a single-slide template presentation and merges your data into it.

Slides mode turns one template slide into a presentation with many slides, one for each record in your data file. One row in your Excel worksheet or one line in your CSV/Tab-Delimited data file becomes one slide in the merged presentation.

Slides mode is great for creating certificates, awards slides or similar presentations where you have a list of names, places, pictures, sounds or movies that you want to turn into a lot of identical slides in a hurry.

Each slide can have as many merge fields as you like.

Presentations mode

PPTMerge starts with a template presentation containing any number of slides. It creates copies of the template presentation. Each copy is customized with the data from one record in your data file. One row in your Excel worksheet or one line in your CSV/Tab-Delimited data file becomes a complete new customized presentation after the merge.

Here's how you'll use PPTMerge in practice

View a Merge How-To video tutorial created by Webucator's customized instructor-led training services.

In a nutshell: PPTMerge uses "field names" that you define in your data file, searches for them in the PPT template file and replaces them with actual data from your data file.

Data files

Start with a data file in Excel XLS, Comma Separated Value (CSV) or Tab Delimited format. Here's a simple example from Excel:

A few important points to remember:

Hint: If you'd rather not edit your data file to make the field names unique, you can add a FieldPrefix entry to the PPTMerge section of PPTools.INI


For example, if you make the FieldPrefix "xxx" as in the example, then you'd use xxxName rather than Name as the merge field when setting up your template presentation. Though Name is the field name in your data file, PPTMerge will look for and replace xxxName when it does the merge.

Once you have your data ready, you need to tell PPTMerge what to do with it. Where should it put all the text, pictures and so on? For that, you'll create a "template" PowerPoint file.

Template files

A template file is an ordinary PowerPoint file that you've added "merge fields" to. Merge fields are just bits of text or rectangles that tell PPTMerge where to insert merge data, how to format it, and which data to insert.

For text data, the merge field is the name of the field in the data file.

For example, if you're creating an awards presentation, you might have fields called :Name: and :Award: in your data file. Wherever you want to insert the name of the award winner in your presentation, simply type :Name: in a text box on one or more of the slides in your template presentation. Type :Award: wherever you want the name of the award to appear, and so on.

As we mentioned, make the field names unique by adding some special character. PPTMerge is very literal-minded. If you type:

The name of the next award winner is name

and merge the sample data above, you'll get

The Steve Rindsberg of the next MergeMaster winner is Steve Rindsberg 

Instead, use :Name: and :Award: as the field names and type

The name of the next award winner is :Name:

Note: Upcoming versions of PPTMerge will probably require colons surrounding field names, so it's a good idea to get into the habit of using them now.

A Slides Mode example

Here's an example template file for just such an awards ceremony:

You've already seen the data we'll use for this project.

Important points to remember:

When you're ready to merge:

PPTMerge creates a new slide for each record in your data file and merges the data for that record into the new slide, so you end up with something like this:

Presentation Mode example

Instead of starting with a single slide and creating additional slides, Presentation mode starts with a single presentation and creates additional presentations, each identical to the template presentation, but with your data merged into it.

In this section, we'll show you how to set up your data and template file for Presentation mode merges and also introduce some of PPTMerge's advanced features.

Here's the data file we'll be using for this example (split into two screens to make it easier for you to read):

Note that there are a few new tricks that you haven't seen yet:

Note: By default, Merge looks for PIC:, SND:, etc. files in the same folder as the merge template PPT file. If your files are stored there, you don't need to specify a full path to the file, just the filename itself in the data file. You can merge images, sounds and videos from files on a network or even on the internet by supplying the full path to the file: c:\My Documents\My Pictures\Picture.jpg or PPTMerge doesn't allow merging text files using URLs, however.

Here are the slides in our sample Presentations Mode template, which might eventually become a series of presentations, one about each PowerPoint MVP on the MS PowerPoint newsgroup.

The first slide uses three text placeholders, :name:, :specialty: and :startdate:
This time, we've used special characters at the beginning and end of each placeholder (and each matching field name in the data file) to avoid confusing placeholders with literal text.

There's also a rectangle with the text PIC:Portrait in it. This is the placeholder for the picture whose filename is supplied in the data file, in the PIC:Portrait field. When it merges the data, PPTMerge will add the specified picture, fit it into the placeholder rectangle, making it as large as possible without distorting it, then make the placeholder disappear.

If no picture file name is supplied or the file isn't available, PPTMerge simply makes the placeholder invisible.

To create a picture placeholder, simply draw a rectangle, then while it's still selected, type PIC:name where "name" is the name you want to identify the picture with. In this case, it's Portrait.

On these two slides, we've used the :name: text placeholder again and also added new movie and sound placeholders. These work exactly the same as PIC placeholders, but you use VID: and SND: for Video/Movies and Sounds respectively.

As you can see from the data file and from this slide, you can use multiple pictures, so long as each has a unique name. You can have more than one picture on a slide and you can use the same picture multiple times on one slide or on different slides.

After you've created and saved your template file, all you need to do is click the Presentation PPTMerge button to start the merge. PPTMerge asks you to choose the data file and a folder to save the newly created merged presentations to. Then it merges and saves your new presentations while you take it easy. Here's what one of the merged example presentations looks like:

Obviously, you'll want to make your sound placeholders a wee bit smaller.
And probably drag them off the slide.

Since these are just screen captures of a presentation, the sounds and movies aren't live links here on the web, but they work just as you'd expect them to in the actual merged presentations you create with PPTMerge.

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