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Technical support for Merge

Problem: "No text on this slide matches field names in your data file"

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Troubleshooting problems with Merge

Merge has a few basic requirements that you must adhere to in preparing your data and PPT merge template files.

If you run into problems, please check the following very carefully. We're always happy to assist, but checking for these common problems before contacting us will let get you going right away most of the time.

Choose different file names for output

In Step 4 of the Merge dialog box, always choose a different name than the name of the file you currently have open and are merging into.

Make sure your output file isn't open

Make sure the file you've chosen in Step 4 isn't already open in PowerPoint or in any other program. Note that if you select the file in Windows Explorer and see a preview of it, the file is open in a hidden instance of PowerPoint; you won't be able to save to it until you select some other file in Explorer (or better yet, close Explorer altogether).

If you use Dropbox, OneDrive or any other file synchronization software, choose an un-synchronized folder to store the results of your merges. Otherwise, the synch software might see any newly created files and hold them open while it's synchronizing them to the cloud or elsewhere. This can cause the merge to fail because PowerPoint won't be able to save data to the file.

Save local

When in doubt, open and save files from/to your local hard drive rather than to a network, cloud or SharePoint location. It's not that Merge won't work with these, but by sticking with the local hard drive, you eliminate a whole collection of potential problems from the mix.

Use unique placeholders/data field names and make sure they match

The most common problem we see is failure to make placeholders unique in both the template PPT file and the data file and to make sure that the placeholders/field names match exactly.

Failure to do this can result in Merge complaining that there are no fields in your slides to merge data into or that there's a problem with your data file.

The fix is quite simple. Always put colons on each side of your text merge fields, both in the PPT template and in the first row of the data file.

For example, if you want to merge Name, Rank, SerialNumber, then the PPT file text should look like:

My name is :Name: and I'm a :Rank:.  My number is :SerialNumber:

and your data file might look like:


It's a good idea to keep capitalization the same between your data file and the PPT file too.

If you're merging pictures, videos, sounds and other files, use PIC: or VID: or SND: followed by a unique name. You don't need colons on both sides of the field.

No mixed formatting in placeholders

Merge placeholders can have any text formatting you like, and it can be different from the text around them and different from one another, BUT formatting within one placeholder should be consistent.

Don't make part of the placeholder bold and the rest regular or change color, font or any other formatting in the middle of the word.

This is ok:

My name is :Name: and I'm a :Rank:.

But this is not:

My name is :Name: and I'm a :Rank:.  My number is :SerialNumber:

There are two problems with the second example.

"is :Name:" is easy to see. Part of the merge placeholder :Name: is bold and part isn't. That won't work.

"I'm a :Rank:" is a little trickier. You have to look closely to see that "Rank:" is italic but the colon before it isn't. And that won't work either.

Watch out for hidden data

Merge ignores hidden rows and columns in your spreadsheet. If you can't see it, Merge can't see it either.

Watch out for bad formulas

Check your worksheet for cells containing #N/A. These indicate that there's something wrong with the formula in that cell, and can cause Merge to stop in the middle of a merge.

If those suggestions didn't help, let us. Help, that is.

When you're trying out Merge for the first time, there's a lot to learn. It can be hard to understand all the tricks and rules. If your merge doesn't work exactly right after making the adjustments described above, don't drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why.

Even if you're just trying out the free demo, we'll be happy to help you get it working right.

Create a simple one or two slide example PowerPoint and a data file that demonstrates the problem. Send it to us (you'll find the support email link below). Keep the combination of the two files down to a megabyte of data or so to avoid email problems.

Explain what you're trying to accomplish and describe what's going wrong in the body of your email, attach the sample files and send them along to us.

Here's some more general information in case you're having problems getting Merge installed in the first place:

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