Variable data printing (VDP), or personalised printing, refers to the printing of a series of
unique documents in a single print run.
Systems do this by merging information from database records with a static document design.
Basic VDP concepts (see Figure 1)
• The master is the static portion of a document
• Variable portions of the document are unique to various individual recipients
• Elements are data that change from document to document, which are defined in a database file
• Placeholders are areas in which the variable information publishing tool will insert variable content
• VDP applications use conditional logic to further customise variable content
A company can do different levels of personalisation. Basic personalisation generally involves inserting a name and address in a letter. The rest of the document is identical for every recipient. This is known as a ‘mail merge’ application.
At the other end of the personalisation spectrum, a document can consist of entirely variable text (of varying lengths) and images (of variable sizes). Of course, several levels between the personalisation extremes are possible.
An operator can also personalise using colour. Basic personalisation would contain only black and white images and text, while more-complex forms would include full colour.
As mentioned above, variable data printing (VDP) refers to the printing of a series of unique documents in a single print run.
The static parts of the documents all look the same; only the variable data changes. Each document in such a run is called a ‘record’. One variable data print run typically contains several different records. Depending on the size of the mailing, a run may contain up to 300K worth of records. Each record can comprise several pages.
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