Keeping Merge Fields Tidy on Your Layout

By Daniel Wood, 15 December 2010

This is a quick and simple tip, and one of my favorites for keeping layouts tidy.

Have you ever added a merge field to a layout, only to find it takes over half the layout, covering other layout objects?

mergefieldtidy 1

If you try to reduce the width of the merge field, you only end up making it taller in height, and now it may overlap things beneath it.

mergefieldtidy 2

Things only get worse if that merge field is used in combination with other merge fields, or other text, you will end up with a big chunk of ugly looking text on your layout - while in browse mode it may only be a few words.

The quirky thing about merge fields however, is that the entire contents of the merge field will render in the font size of the first character of the merge field place holder. So in the example:

So long as the very first character -

 mergefieldtidy 3

You can always spot a merge field on the layout when using this technique because it has a very characteristic look about it. Once a merge field is set you can generally forget about it.

If, however you do need to check what the merge field is, the easiest way to now do so is to copy/paste it elsewhere on the layout, and increase the font size of the copy version by 1pt, in doing so, the entire merge field place holder will increase in font size so you can read it again.

When you want to reformat the existing merge field, just select the first "

You can still use this technique with merge fields that exist alongside regular text, for example:

mergefieldtidy 4

You don't have to set the rest of the merge field font size to 1-2pt if you don't want to. Normally if the font size you want is 18pt or over, you can get away with making the rest of it a readable font size like 10pt, that way you can still easily determine what the merge field is :)

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  • Phil 21/07/2011 4:46pm (13 years ago)

    Great trick, thanks guys.

  • Simon Clement 03/03/2011 11:53pm (13 years ago)

    Or use conditional formatting. If Get ( WindowMode )=0 (ie the window is in Browse mode) the text is 12pt then in layout mode set the type size to something really small.

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