By David Lorenzoni

Have you ever had a need to copy information from a database report, spreadsheet or any other source into a document such as a price list or specification document only to find that once you copied the information the source of your content changed? Or even worse, you made an error?

So maybe you thought you could just cut and paste the entire spreadsheet. That might work for small amounts of information, but when the information is variable or changes frequently that might not work or it might make it difficult for the end user if the information you copied is not published correctly. And what if the data you want does not exist in a database?

This is where a very cool feature of Arbortext known as Data Merge comes into use.

Arbortext lets you incorporate references to external data sources in a document, and to then resolve those references. A reference to external data is called a query and the result is called merged data. The merged data can automatically populate a document. Errors that would otherwise be introduced by re-keying, or cutting and pasting old data or incorrect formatting are eliminated.

There are also considerable time-savings through automation workflow review. One customer used Data Merge to incorporate engineering changes into the documentation so that the writers who were developing the content had the most up to date information rather than relying on outdated hand written notes. In this case, the information provided by the Data Merge feature was not used in the final output but as a starting point for the content developers.

The next time your documents or published content requires information that is already validated and maintained in another file, turn to Data Merge and eliminate errors and reduce content development time.

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