GREP Replace From Spreadsheet

Script for Adobe InDesign
Latest update 11/29/2021, version 1.4

The script reads a spreadsheet of GREP patterns and their replacement, and replaces all matches in the active document. A virtually unlimited number of replacements are performed in a single operation rather than countless visits to the InDesign Find/Change dialog.

  • Match whole words only
  • Ignore case
  • Keep capitalization
  • Confirm each change
  • User-configurable localization
GREP Replace From Spreadsheet
GREP Replace From Spreadsheet

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IMPORTANT: non-English languages, ensure CSV files use commas not semicolons, or the script fails. Configure Excel to use commas, or open the CSV file in a text editor and search and replace semicolons to commas. Also, if text to find or change contains Unicode characters (for example diacritics used in non-English languages), choose "CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited)" from the Excel Save As dialog "Save as type" drop-down list. If not saved UTF-8, CSV files replace Unicode characters with question marks and the text fails to match.

How-to Video

Before using the script

The script requires a spreadsheet of GREP patterns and their replacements, saved as Comma Separated Values (CSV format). The spreadsheet must have at least two columns, one for the GREP pattern to match, and another for its replacement.

GREP Replace From Spreadsheet data example

The first row is the header, which identifies the contents of each column. In this example, the column headers are Find and Change. These columns could just as well be labeled “match” and “replace,” or any other desired labels. The precise column labels, or their order, are not important, and there is no harm in extra columns. Which column is the GREP pattern, and which is its replacement, are selected in the script interface.

How to use the script

The interface is divided into two sections: Data file and Options. Click the File button to select the CSV file, set the options as desired, and click the OK button to begin. The user is notified when processing is complete, or if an error occurs.

Data File (CSV)

File — select the CSV data file, then the column drop-down lists (next) are loaded with the columns discovered in the data.

Column find — select the column of GREP patterns to match.

Column change — select the column of replacement text.


Whole word — text matches only when whole words. If disabled, text matches also when words contain the text. For GREP, this option is achieved by wrapping the GREP pattern in \< and \>, which indicates whole word. The same could be done to patterns in the data and get the same result. The option exists to simplify the data file if desired. IMPORTANT: do not use this option if GREP patterns in the data file already contain the command for whole word. Doing so prevents patterns from matching.

Case insensitive — text matches regardless of upper or lower case, or any combination of either. For GREP, this option is achieved by prefixing the GREP pattern with (?i), which indicates case insensitive. The same could be done to patterns in the data and get the same result. The option exists to simplify the data file if desired. IMPORTANT: do not use this option if GREP patterns in the data file already contain the command for case insensitive. Doing so prevents patterns from matching.

Keep capitalization — available when the option Case insensitive is enabled. When the text found is capitalized, the change is capitalized even if not capitalized in the spreadsheet. If the text found is not capitalized, the spreadsheet data is used as-is. This is useful for words that are normally not capitalized, but could appear at the beginning of sentences, requiring capitalization. Without this option, such cases would have to be two separate find/change pairs, one capitalized, another not, and processed with Case insensitive disabled, otherwise risk the beginning of sentences becoming lowercase.

Confirm each change — if enabled, the display is magnified to the value for the option Zoom (next), to better show the changes to confirm. A confirmation dialog appears on screen, described in the next section.

Zoom — the percentage to which the display is magnified when processing begins. This allows the user a closer look at selected text to better judge if changes are acceptable.

Confirm each change

Each match is selected in the layout, and a confirmation dialog displays the proposed change above a series of buttons:

GREP Replace From Spreadsheet confirm

OK — the selected text is changed as indicated, and the next proposed change is selected.

OK all — the selected text and all remaining matching instances are changed without further user intervention. This applies only to the current find/change pair searching for. When the next find/change pair begins processing, the confirmation dialog is again displayed. This repeats until all find/change pairs are processed.

Skip — the selected text is not changed, and the next proposed change is selected.

Skip all — the selected text is not changed and all remaining matching instances are ignored. Processing resumes with the next find/change pair and again the confirmation dialog is displayed.

Cancel — processing ceases without further changes. Any changes previously accepted remain. If desired, the Edit menu item Undo restores the document to its state prior to launching the script.

The confirmation dialog appears centered on screen and near the top of the window. If the dialog obscures the layout, it may be moved to another location on screen, even to a secondary display. The dialog will maintain its new position until the next launch of the script.

If any story has overset text, it is not possible to show the proposed change because it is hidden off-screen in the overset text. In this case, a warning is displayed and the user has the option to continue regardless, or decline and remedy the overset text before trying again, the recommended choice. Then each change is visible and can be confirmed.


By default the script language is US English, which does not require further download or configuration. To make the script interface display other languages, first download the English i18n file. The file has interface text in English, and a second value for its translation, which for the English i18n file is the identical text. Edit the i18n file to change the second values to the translation in your language. Save the file and copy it to the script folder alongside the script file. When launched, the script detects the i18n file and the script interface displays your translated text. For more detailed instructions of how to edit and install i18n files, see How to Localize Scripts.

GREP Replace From Spreadsheet

License details included in download

For help installing scripts, see How to Install and Use Scripts in Adobe Creative Cloud Applications.

Also available for hire to program custom solutions. Contact William for more information.

IMPORTANT: by downloading any of the scripts on this page you agree that the software is provided without any warranty, express or implied. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Always make backups of important data.