Hi everybody and welcome to this blog which is all about using MS Word to perform Mail Merges. This can be a thorny problem, and I get loads of questions about it, so I hope what follows will sort a few things out for you. 
 
Once set up, Mail Merge can save you a huge amount of time, plus, you can really impress colleagues, clients and even yourself with the results! Have a read and download the example files too, you will need to reconnect them. 
Well  
So, what is Mail Merge? 
You often use mail merge to send out standard letters or emails to many customers or contacts. These will have the same static text but understandably the address and the “Dear …” salutation will be different for each recipient. 
You can use mail merge for other types of merge documents, though – address labels; envelopes, and directory lists … 
Mail Merge is actually two documents working in tandem: 
 
The MAIN Document which contains static text and merge field “hotspots” for variable data (eg Standard letters, Labels, Emails …) 
The DATA Source (Word calls this the RECIPIENT List) which is a table of data either in another Word doc, an Excel spreadsheet or Access database. This table supplies the variable data for your Letters, Labels, or Emails. 
 
It is easier to set up Recipient List in advance and my preference is a table in Excel. You then connect this to the Main document via the Mail Merge Wizard (see below) 
Also, it is useful to show the Mailings Tab and Mail Merge Wizard  
(Both illustrated below.)) 
Creating the DATA Source List 
Decide on the field (column) headings you need and type them on Row1 in new Excel spreadsheet & format to suit 
Complete each subsequent row with one recipient’s details 
Save the file with a suitable appropriate name and in a folder you can find again easily then close Excel (Step 3 below) 
Working out the look of the Main Document 
Until you’re confident with mail merge, I suggest you type up the Main document in full, print it and use a highlighter to identify the variable parts of the document. (Similar to the illustration with the yellow highlighting here.) 
Later, replace the marked areas one at a time with the appropriate Mail Merge Field (Step 4 below) 
Using the Mail Merge Wizard 
All the heat is taken away from mail merging if you show the Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard Task Pane. 
Activate this by clicking: Mailings Tab > Start Mail Merge > Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard 
Navigate to Next ... / Back through the 6 Steps of the process 

Two documents working in tandem 

The 6 Steps of a Mail Merge using the Wizard 

Step1 
Selecting the type of main document 
The default is Letters … 
Click Next … to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane) 
Step2 
Starting the main document 
The default is Use the current document … 
Click Next … to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane) 
Step3 
Selecting the Recipient List (Data Source) 
The default is Use an Existing List … 
Click Browse to find and connect to it 
Click Next … to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane) 
Step4 
Writing the main document 
When building the main document, position the cursor at each point where variable is to sit, remove any unwanted information from here then 
Click the Insert Merge Field button on the Mailings Tab and click the field needed in the field name list 
The inserted field name is always surrounded by chevrons (« ») 
Complete the main document like this - use natural spacing, “Enters” and punctuation as needed 
Click Next … to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane) 
Step5 
Previewing the main document with merged data 
Here the emphasis is on Previewing not Printing – 
This step is designed to show how the document will look with each recipient’s data in turn 
Use the navigators on the Mailings Tab or on the Mail Merge Wizard to move between each letter 
Click Next … to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane) 
Step6 
Printing, Emailing or merging to a new document 
Only do merging to a new document if it's really necessary– definitely DO NOT ALWAYS save the merged doc, just the main doc and data source 
Useful Buttons to click along the way 
1 
Start Mail Merge 
Click this if you need to re-show the Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard Task Pane 
You will then be able to revisit the 6 Steps outlined above if tweaks are needed 
2 
Edit Recipient List 
This button opens the Mail Merge Recipients dialog which allows you to: 
Tick/untick the recipients you want for the Mail Merge 
Click a column heading to sort by that column 
Click a column drop-down for filter options 
The Advanced option opens the Query Options dialog. 
Click the Filter... or Sort... links on the options 
With the Sort... link, set up to 3 record sorting options 
With the Filter... link, set up criteria for record filtering 
3 
Highlight Merge Fields 
An inserted mail merge field name is always surrounded by chevrons (« ») which help you distinguish fields from regular text. 
This button makes merge fields stand out more by applying a non-printing background to them  
4 
Insert Merge Field 
Can do this any time: 
Position the cursor at each point where variable information is to sit 
Click the Insert Merge Field button then click the field needed in the field name list 
5 
Preview Results 
Gives you a snapshot of how each record would fill the Main document 
Use the 4 navigation buttons to help view the records 
6 
Finish & Merge 
Use this to: 
Produce a merged document via Edit Individual Documents  
(Only do if it's really necessary– DO NOT ALWAYS save the merged doc, just the main doc and data source) … 
Print documents (Straight to printer) … 
Send e-mail messages … 
I have some sample documents for you to download to see how they work: 
Remember where you download them to as you will need to reattach the Data Source on opening the Main document. 
 
 
Well, that’s it for now. Let's not have any more MAIL eMERGEncies!! 
 
 
I would love to hear you are getting on with Mail Merge so ... 
Text me on 07973 507371 or email me les@101systemworks.co.uk 
 
See you next time. 
Don’t forget – “Les is more!” 
 
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