The mystery of mail merge in Microsoft Word

 Oct 17, 2014

There seems to be some mystery surrounding the process of performing a mail merge in Microsoft Word. People are often daunted by the thought of having to use this feature; however the procedure is actually quite simple as long as you understand a few simple concepts. The mail merge process basically involves connecting a Word document and a data source for the purposes of producing a copy of the Word document for each item listed in the data source. The data source can be a simple table in a Word document, an Excel worksheet, a table in an Access database or a Contact folder in Outlook. The main document is then populated with the static content and the merge fields that appear are determined by the content in the data source (for example, the name and address).
  • The Word document: The main document can be either a normal Word file (.docx) or a template (.dotx). Ideally, you should construct this template file before starting the mail merge, but it’s not essential.
  • The data source: The data source can be one of a number of different file types (mentioned above). An Excel worksheet is the most common type. Ideally, you should create the data source before starting the mail merge, but you can create one during the process. Be aware that if you do, Word creates special type of Access database to store the data.
  • The Mail Merge Wizard: The Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard makes performing a mail merge easy. The 6 steps make it a simple case of choosing the document type (letters, labels etc.), choosing the main document, choosing the data source, adding the merge fields, previewing the result and ultimately, performing the mail merge.
The most typical use for mail merge is a mass mailings but this is only one use. I use mail merge before my training courses to produce name tags. All I have to do is type some data into a spreadsheet and then open the main document and print the result. To find out more and see how simple a mail merge can be, check out New Horizons' Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013 Level 2 training courses.

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About the Author:

Ben Kirk  

With over 16 years of experience working as a Desktop Applications specialist for a number of large education services providers, Ben is one of New Horizons most skilled and dynamic instructors. With his Advanced Diploma of Business Skills alongside his practical experience and expertise, Ben is able to provide insight and guidance to students at all skill levels across the entire Microsoft Office suite.

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