Create a Prompt Journal with Data Merge

Affinity Publisher added Data Merge to the list of included features earlier in 2021. This is great news for journal and planner creators because it makes layouts with different elements on a page so easy to create. I mean things like prompt journals and dated planners.

Now, dated planners takes a little more thought so let’s start easy and learn how you can use the data merge feature to create a prompt journal in a snap. Well, a few snaps, it took me less than 15 minutes to set up this document and once you have it, it will take even less time to make a few changes and create a new book.

What you will learn in this tutorial:

  • How to set up your document for data merge in Publisher
  • How to set up your spreadsheet (data file)
  • How to connect your data source (the spreadsheet of prompts) with Publisher
  • Where to find a great supply of prompts you can use for your books

The steps summarized:

  • Create a new Publisher file. Set up the design of your journal on a master page.
  • In the pages window, on page 1, add a text box for your prompt. Create some sample text and adjust font type and size as well as centering.
  • In your spreadsheet software title your first column with the name of your field. I used “Prompt” (I did this in Excel but you can also use Numbers or even create a text file) Files types can be: plain, CSV, TSV, .xlsx, or JSON
  • In that column, type in or paste in your prompts (see below for sources of commercial rights prompts). Save your file.
  • Back in Publisher, open Document–>Data Merge Manager and import your spreadsheet. Click to tick the Preview box.
  • Open the Fields window (View–>Studio–>Fields). Place your cursor in the text box you created in step 2 and then in the Fields window scroll to the bottom where it says Data Merge and the name of your spreadsheet file. Double click on Prompt (or whatever you called the column of prompts in step 3). This should put a merge tag <Prompt> in your text box.
  • In the Data Merge Manager, click Generate. A new file will open with pages for all of your prompts.

Make additional prompt journals:

  • Save your original file to work with in future (the first one that we set up with a single page, not the generated file)
  • Change the design on your master page
  • Follow the steps above to import a new file of prompts
  • Generate, and save and export your result
  • Rinse and repeat

Where to find prompts you can use:

So, now that you can create all these lovely books quickly and easily where do you find prompts? There are lists of prompts all over Pinterest and blogs, but be careful because prompts are a bit of a gray area when it comes to copyright.

A prompt such as “describe your favorite childhood memory” is pretty generic but more specific prompts are copyrighted by the person who wrote them. You should not just copy a bunch of prompts off the internet. Either write your own (it’s not hard) or buy a license for a set of commercial rights prompts. Here are some options:

Disclosure: I may receive a commission when you make a purchase using my links

Createful Journals

Sue Fleckenstein has a monthly prompts club membership and this is a great choice for an ongoing source of prompts. It is extremely affordable.

Journal Prompts Monthly

Or check out the back issues which can be purchased individually dating back to 2018!

Sue also has some larger prompt packs on popular topics:

Baby and Me Journal Prompts

Anxiety and Stress Journal Prompts

Weight Loss Journal Prompts

Health And Wellness PLR

Jennifer Anderson loves journaling content. You can find a ton of journaling content with private label rights on her site including over 40 products that include prompts.

Here are two free packs you can sample:

50 Healthy at Home Journaling Prompts

50 Mental Health Journaling Prompts

And here is where you browse all the rest–includes topics like self help, fitness, diet, spirituality, seasons, and more.

Health and Wellness Journaling Content

PLR Planners

Di Heuser has this pack of 1100 creative writing prompts. You could make 10+ journals from this alone.

1100 Creative Writing Prompts

PLR for Blogs

A la carte articles, including prompt article packs.

Gratitude Journal Prompts

Bullet Journal Prompts

White Label Perks

Free Prompts for the New Year (from 2018)

Body Positive Prompts and Journal PLR