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Mail Merge in Word

How to Use Mail Merge in Word

Mail Merge in Word

Do you have a long list of names and addresses that you need to send letters to? The Mail Merge process combines a Word document with a data source to quickly create letters that feel personal.

Mail Merge Definitions
Starting Document (Main Document) A document that contains the information that is the same for each merged document. The starting document contains the field names for the variable information, like the names and addresses that will be inserted.
Data Source or Recipients List A file that contains the information to be inserted into the main document during a mail merge. For example, it has records containing the names and addresses of the people a mail merge letter is sent to. Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, or Word document tables are good examples of data sources.
Field A data category that stores a specific piece of information. For example, the field «LastName» would only contain people’s last names.
Record A record is an entire set of data fields that relate to a single thing or person. For example, a single record would include a person’s first and last names, address, phone number, and date of birth.
Merge Field A merge field is where you want to insert the information from a data source into a main document. Merge fields appear with chevrons (« ») around them. An example would be: Dear «FirstName».
Address Block A group of merge fields that make up an address in a mail merge document. For example, a single address is made up of a name, street address, city, state, and zip code. Word can automatically insert all the appropriate address fields at once, so you don’t have to insert the five or six merge fields yourself.
Greeting Line A group of merge fields that make up the greeting line of a mail merge document, such as “Dear Mr. McDonald”. Word can automatically insert all the appropriate greeting text, title, and name fields at once, so you don’t have to insert the text and required merge fields yourself.
Header Row Data source information is stored in a table. The first row of the table is the header row and contains the field names for the data source. For example, FirstName, LastName, and Address are header rows.

Set up and Choose Document Type

To begin the mail merge process, you first need to choose what sort of document you want to create.

  1. Click the Mailings tab.
  2. Click the Start Mail Merge button.
  3. Select Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard.

    The Mail Merge pane appears on the right, ready to walk you through the mail merge.

  4. Select a type of document to create.
  5. Click Next: Starting document.
    Mail Merge

The Mail Merge wizard advances to the next step.

Select a Document

This next step is to select a starting document.

  1. Select a starting document.

    You can use the current document as the basis for the mail merge, or you can select a template or existing document instead.

  2. Click Next: Select recipients.
    Mail Merge

The Mail Merge wizard moves on to step 3.

Select Recipients

Now, you will need to choose where you’ll get your list of addresses from. This example uses an existing list from a database, but you can also select Outlook contacts or manually create your own list.

  1. Select Use an existing list.
  2. Click Browse.
    Mail Merge
  3. Select your data file.

    A data file of mail merge recipients can be in a database file, an Excel spreadsheet, another Word document, or other types of data files.

  4. Click Open.

    The Mail Merge Recipients dialog box displays the addresses that will be used. If you’re using an Excel spreadsheet as a data source, you may also be prompted to select a worksheet containing the addresses.

    If there's an address you don't want to use, you can uncheck it.

    Mail Merge

  5. Make sure the right recipients are selected and click OK.
  6. Click Next: Write your letter.
    Mail Merge

The Mail Merge wizard moves on to step 4.

Write Your Letter

After the main document is set and the recipient list is connected and edited, you are ready to insert the merge fields in the document. The merge fields are placeholders in the document for unique information from the recipients list.

When you put a merge field in the main document, information from that field will appear for the document that is unique to that recipient.

  1. Click where you want the information.
  2. Select one of the placeholder options.

    You can add merge fields from the wizard, or from the Write & Insert Fields group on the ribbon:

    • Address Block: This is a combination of fields to insert the names and addresses of recipients.
    • Greeting Line: This is a combination of fields to insert the recipient’s name in the greeting line.
    • Insert Merge Field: When you click this button, a list of additional merge fields you can insert appears.
      Mail Merge
  3. Customize the placeholder.
  4. Click OK.
  5. (Optional) Repeat steps to add each merge field you want to include.
  6. Click Next: Preview your letters.
    Mail Merge

The Mail Merge wizard moves on to step 5.

Preview Your Mail Merge

Sometimes, it is helpful to see what the data will look like once it has been inserted into a document, instead of only viewing the merge field names.

You can easily preview how the mail merge will appear before finishing the mail merge. This is encouraged to make sure the results appear as you want them to.

  1. Use the arrow buttons in the Mail Merge pane to preview each merged document.

    You can also use the arrow buttons in the Preview Results group on the ribbon.

    Click the Find Recipient button in the Preview Results group or in the Mail Merge pane to search for a specific recipient.

  2. Click Next: Complete the merge.
    Mail Merge

The Mail Merge wizard moves on to the final step.

Complete the Merge

Once you’ve added the list of recipients and filled out a document with merge fields, the last step is to finish the merge by making a separate version of the document for each recipient.

There are a couple of different ways you can finish the mail merge:

  • Edit Individual Documents: Puts the results of the mail merge in a new document. You are free to edit the results of the mail merge and save and print them, just like any other document.
  • Print Documents: Merges records and sends them directly to the printer.
  1. Select the option you want to use to finish the mail merge.

    You can also click the Finish & Merge button on the ribbon and select a merge option there.

    You’re also given the option to choose which records to merge. You can merge all the records in the list, only the currently displayed record, or specify a range.

  2. Select the records you want to merge.
  3. Click OK.
    Mail Merge

Word merges the main document and the information from the data source into a new Word document, or merges it and sends it to the printer, based on the option you chose.

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