Word 2010 Videos - Mail Merge

A Word mail merge is useful if you want to churn out lots of instances of the same document that are to be sent to many recipients. You wouldn’t use a mail merge if you just wanted to send your document to one person. If you’re sending a thank-you letter to many people who have helped you, or your organisation, for example, then a mail merge is for you.

When doing a mail merge, you need to answer the following questions:

We’re going to look at sending the same document to many individuals, with only the recipient information changing in each letter.

So, let’s get started.

We’ve got a pre-prepared letter we’re going to be sending out, although you can write the letter during the mail merge process. From an organisational point of view, I prefer to prepare everything beforehand.

Let’s go to our pre-prepared letter. Click on Start Mail Merge. As you can see, there are several options here. We can select Letters, Email Messages, Envelopes, Labels, Directory, but as this is a letter, let’s select Letters.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Mail Merge process, you can select Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard, and that will guide you – step by step – through the process, but we’re actually going to do it manually here.

To answer the “who are we mailing to” question we asked earlier, click on Select Recipients. We’ve got a pre-prepared Excel spreadsheet that contains names and addresses of recipients we’re going to be sending our letter to. So, we’ll select Use Existing List. Let’s navigate to our Excel spreadsheet. Mailshots.xlsx – here it is – double click on that.

The information about or recipients is in Sheet 1, and that’s selected. Notice also that Word has detected that the first row of data contains column headings. Click on OK.

In case you’re wondering, this is what the Excel spreadsheet looks like. You can see that in the first column we’ve got “First Name”, second column: “Last Name”, Email Address and Postal Address. We’ve just got a small list of seven recipients there.

Although in this example, our recipient list is held in an Excel spreadsheet, you could also use your Contact List in Outlook, or if you’ve got your recipient data held in an Access database, you could use that, too.

At the moment, our Mail Merge is set to send the letter to all recipients in our Excel spreadsheet, but if you don’t want to send to every single individual recipient, then you could click Edit Recipient List, like so. To remove recipients from the mail merge, all you have to do is remove the check in the box next to their name. If you want to remove all of them, then you can click on the box at the top and then start adding them back in. As we want to send to every single person in the list, let’s select them all, and click OK.

We’re going to merge fields held in our recipient list in our Excel spreadsheet with the document we have here. It’s a good idea to personalise the letters you send out and Word’s Mail Merge allows you to do that using Merge Fields. The first thing that we need to do is position the cursor in the document where you want to put the merge field.

We’re going to add the recipient’s first name here, so it will read “Hi John”, or “Hi Sarah”. So, there’s the cursor, and we’ll click on Insert Merge field, and select First Name. Notice that it’s detected what the columns are in our Excel spreadsheet. So, here we go: select First Name.

Word can handle greeting lines, too, so what we’ll actually do is delete “Hi”, here, and just notice that the cursor is positioned right at the beginning of the line. Up here, we have a command for Greeting Line, so we’ll click on that. Up here, we’ve got a selection of different greetings. We can have “Dear” and then the name. Or we can have “To”, or none. I think we’ll stick with “Dear” for this one.

If our recipient list contains invalid recipient names – that’s names that contain invalid characters or, indeed, blank names – then Word will substitute the greeting line with “Dear Sir or Madam”, or we can select “To Whom It May Concern”. I think we’ll stick with “Dear Sir or Madam”.

At the bottom we get a preview of what the greeting line will look like and we can cycle through our recipients: Dear John Smith, Dear Elvis Presley, and so on. We’ve only got seven recipients so that’s why we can only go up to 7 there. So, click on OK, and we’ve got Greeting Line followed by the First Name from the Excel spreadsheet.

Before we go any further, let’s preview what we’ve got so far by clicking on the Preview Results command in the ribbon, up here. So, we’ve got Dear Daffy Duck, Daffy. Well, that’s not right because we’ve got the name twice here. Do you know why that is? Let’s click on Preview Results to go back to the document. Well, the Greeting Line already includes the name so we don’t need this First Name merge field here. With the cursor positioned at the end, we can press the backspace key twice to get rid of it. OK, let’s look at the preview again: Preview Results. “Dear Daffy Duck,” – that looks a lot better. We can cycle through the recipients in our list using these controls up here. “Dear The Pope” – not quite right! “Dear Patti Labelle”, and so on. It’s looking pretty good now.

Let’s turn off the preview now. One other thing before we move on. If you want to scan your document quickly to find out where all the merge fields are, you can click on the Highlight Merge Fields button, up here. We’ve only got one, being the greeting line, so that’s how we can locate it quickly. Turn that off.

We’re just about done, now. To recap, we started off with a pre-prepared document, which was a letter. Then we selected our recipient list, which was an Excel spreadsheet. Then we merged some fields from the recipient list with the document. So, now it’s time to Finish and Merge. Now, we can Edit Individual Documents, we can Print Documents, and we can Send Email Messages. Well, we’re happy that the same format of letter gets sent to each recipient, so we’re just going to print the documents. Here, we can select all recipients to receive our letter, we can select the current record, which is number 5, or we can select a range of recipients. We want to send our letter to everyone on the list, so we’ll select All and then click OK. And there’s the standard Print Dialogue box that you’ve probably all seen before. Everything’s OK on there. There’s the printer selected, so we’ll click OK.

And that’s how we can perform a Mail Merge in Word.