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How To Mail Merge In Word

The mail merge function in Microsoft Word enables you to create a standard letter in Word and then change personal details on multiple copies according to recipients' name and address details held in an Excel spreadsheet. An Access database can also be used to hold the address details, but in this example, we will look at using Excel to hold this information.

So, to do a mail merge in Word you will need two things:

  • A letter prepared in Word
  • Address details of all those people who will receive the letter

To help the Word mail merge wizard identify the data correctly, it's best to ensure that the address details in Excel don't have any missing rows - the data should have a continuous range. Here is an example of the kind of data you would use.

Mail Merge In Word 1

Starting The Mail Merge in Word

In Word start the Word mail merge wizard by clicking Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Start Mail Merge > Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard. In the panel on the right, ensure that Letters is selected and click Next: Starting document. Because we are going to write the letter after the recipients have been selected, leave Use the current document selected and then click Next: Select recipients. This is where our Excel spreadsheet of address details comes in. Ensure that Use an existing list is selected and click browse. Navigate to where your recipient Excel spreadsheet is, select it and then in the Select Table dialogue box select the worksheet that contains your address details.

Mail Merge In Word 2

Ensure that the First row of data contains column headings is selected only where appropriate and click OK.

Note that if you have the spreadsheet open in Excel while you are performin the mail merge in Word, you may get the following cry for help from Word! If you do, don't panic. Simply close the spreadsheet in Excel and try selecting it again in Word.

Catastrophic Failure

When you click OK, the Mail Merge Recipients dialogue box is presented.

Mail Merge Recipients

You can use the Mail Merge Recipients dialogue box to deselect any addresses you don't want to merge. Click OK when you have completed your selections. It's now time to write the letter, so click Next: Write your letter. You have two options: you can either insert items of personal information about your recipients as you go along, or you can write the letter in its entirety, leaving gaps for that information for you to fill in once the letter is complete. We'll go with the latter option. Once you have completed the letter, locate the cursor in one of the gaps you left for recipient information and click More Items on the right. Ensure that Database Fields is selected and select the piece of information you need from the list.

Mail Merge Recipients

When you click Insert, that piece of data is inserted into the document where the cursor was positioned. When all the recipient data has been added, click Next: Preview your letters. Here, an example letter showing information about your first recipient is shown as a preview. Check the preview and if you need to make any adjustments, click Previous: Write your letter, otherwise click Next: Complete the merge.

At this point the mail merge is complete and all that is left to do is print the letters. When you click Print, the Merge to Printer dialogue box is presented for you to choose which recipients to print.

Mail Merge Recipients

You can select all recipients, only the current recipient or you can select a range of recipients, in much the same way you would select what pages to print when you perform a normal print.