Creating a Map with a live Numbered List in InDesign

Hi all,

I have a pretty particular question and I’m just lacking the vocabulary to even google it properly. Maybe your minds can help me out. Say I have a map, its fairly complicated and it has a numbered legend with business’s names and locations.

When a new business is added to the map, it changes all the corresponding numbers on the map. This can happen a lot, thus making me go into illustrator to renumber everything.

What I am envisioning is that I make the map in illustrator, place it in indesign. Then, in indesign I have the legend with the businesses in alphabetical order. The number beside each business is connected to a duplicate square and number on the map. So somehow I want to connect the number in my list styles to a duplicate number on the map. That way I can update the business list and the numbers on the map will auto update. Is this possible. I’m wondering if it has to do with maybe one of the following?

conditional formatting
Liquid Layout
numbred list
Object Styles

Can any indesign guru help me out with this?

Assuming I understand the problem well enough:

There is no native InDesign feature that would link up the list and the map-number positioning in a way that would produce a fully automated solution. (A semi-automatic solution may be possible with a ‘catalog’ plugin.)

With some initial setup, there is a way to install a threaded numbered list over the map-number positions that will alleviate some of the manual work you’re doing now. An off-the-cuff description of how to get there (there may be better ways that escape me at the moment):

  • Save a copy of your map in Illustrator without numbers and Place it in InDesign.
  • Re-number the map in InDesign by first drawing out a small text frame where the number 1 should appear.
  • With a live insertion point in that frame, choose Bullets & Numbering from the Paragraph panel menu.
  • In the Bullets & Numbering dialog, set the List Type to Numbers, set the remaining options to style your numbers, and click OK. (You can do it now and/or come back at the end to make styling adjustments using a Character Style.)
  • Click the out-port of the frame and draw the next frame where #2 will be.
  • Click the out-port of the #2 frame and draw the next frame where #3 will be.
  • Repeat until you have a text frame at every number position.
  • Return to the #1 frame and double-click to set a live insertion point.
  • Press the NUMPAD Enter key. This will enter the 1 character in the #1 frame AND a frame-break pushing the cursor into the #2 frame.
  • Keep tapping the NUMPAD Enter key to move through the frames, depositing the respective number character in each, and frame-breaking to the next.

So what does that gain you? Let’s say now you have to add a business to your list at list position #12. Adding the text to the list is easy, and re-numbering the map is now just as easy. Add a new #12 position to the map by clicking the out-port on the #11 frame and dawing a new frame where the new number 12 will go. All the map-number frames downstream of #12 will advance by one number, matching your edit to the list.

It sounds like a lot to keep straight, but once you understand it, you’ll see how it helps.

Indesign can use variable data using Data Merge, a feature already within InDesign.
Without actually trying it though, I’m not sure how you’d add a new data point.

I would use Data Merge, and point it to a new list when you update the map. Should work, worth a try.

Data Merge is a one-off mail/print merge utility that can really only merge a single record from a spreadhseet into a layout of fields corresponding to the sheet’s column headers. Then it just repeats it for the next record on the next page or same-page instance. It can’t do multiple records into one layout (as in populating a list), as would be needed for Tiggy’s purpose. As I mentioned, for that you need a catalog plugin.

Good answer. Now I don’t have to try it.

Heh, I’ve whacked my empty head on every wall surrounding InDesign’s Data Merge capabilities at least twice. You don’t ever have to do any such trial and error. Just ask me.

I only DM for conventional, easy stuff. But I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks!

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