Mail merge is a Microsoft Word feature that allows you to personalize a section for each copy of a similar document. It allows you to use a list of contacts or other pieces of a document stored in a database (could be a Word Mail Merge Lists, Excel Spreadsheets, access or other forms of databases). In other words, mail merge enables users to create a set of documents with a similar layout and content but with different information on some section(s).
When to Use Mail Merge in Microsoft Word?
Mainly, this feature is used to create identical letters, labels or emails for different recipients. You can also use the tool to personalize reports, newsletter or any other documents and email to different contacts on your mailing list. Generally, mail merge can be useful whenever you want to generate multiple output documents with some fixed content like letterhead and specific parts with data varying depending on a particular data source.
Different Components of Mail Merge
- Main Document – Word document with content that will be the same across all the output. It could be plain text, merge fields guiding text, company letterhead and so on.
- Data source – A database with a list of data that vary with each mail merge output (for example, recipients of your monthly newsletter).
- Merge Document – The resulting output when you merge the main document with the data source.
In this guide, we will show you how to use the mail merge feature in MS Word.
Using Mail Merge in Microsoft Word
- Open a new Document, a template or an existing main document in Word to get started.
- Go to the “Mailings” menu and on the ribbon, click the “Start Mail Merge” arrow to expand.
- Select the last option “Step-by-step…” to start the mail merge wizard.
- This will open a Mail Merge wizard on the right edge of the document. Select the type of document you want to prepare and click “Next” at the bottom of the wizard.
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Choosing Your Main Document
Here you need to select your starting document.
- If the current document is your main document, pick the first option and continue to add the recipient.
- In some cases, you may have a template that you use for your letters. If that is the case, check the template option and then click “Select template” to pick from your stored templates.
- When you have your main document ready, tick the existing document alternative and click the “Open” button to choose the specific file on your PC storage.
Note: Once you pick a template or an existing file, the document loads and the option switches to “Use the current document.”
Adding Data (Recipients) to Mail Merge
MS Word gives you three options to add data from the source.
Select List from an Existing List
- You may have your data in a database (excel, access and so on). Choose “Use an existing list” click the “Browse” link to specify the list you want to merge.
- Select the data source and click “Ok” to add the list.
- You can add multiple data sources by clicking “Select a different list” link. Besides, on clicking the “Edit…” link, you can edit your list to select only the pieces of data that you are interested in.
Select List from your Outlook Contacts
- Choose the option to select recipient data from your Outlook mailing contacts.
- Click on “Choose Contacts Folder”, select your outlook profile and click the “Ok” button.
Create a List in Word
- The third option allows you to create a new list in MS Word for your mail merge.
- Click on “Type a new list” and then the create button on the lower section.
- This opens a table view where you can add and save your list of recipients.
- Type the recipients’ details and press “Ok” then save the document.
Editing the Main Document
- Now continue to the next page to edit the main document.
- If you picked a blank document, add your content to the document and set the location for merging data.
- Click the “Address Block” link to edit the order in which you want the recipient’s details to appear.
- Select your preferred style and click “Ok” to insert the address.
- Under the “Greeting lines” pick a salutation and click “Ok”.
- If you need to add more details, go to “More items” and insert extra fields.
- Once you are done, your document should look something like this.
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Preview the Output Documents
- Click next to move to the preview wizard. Use the left and the right double arrows to preview the multiple personalized documents.
- You may find feature to look for a specific recipient. Once you have verified the details, click “Next” to complete the mail merge.
Mail Merge Keyboard Shortcuts
Here are some of the keyboard shortcuts when you use Mail Merge function.
|Alt + Shift + K||Preview Mail Merge|
|Alt + Shift + N||Merge Document|
|Alt + Shift + M||Print Merged Document|
|Alt + Shift + E||Edit Mail Merge Data|
|Alt + Shift + F||Insert Merge Field|
|Alt + Shift + D||Insert DATE Field|
|Alt + Control + L||Insert LISTNUM Field|
|Alt + Shift + P||Insert PAGE Field|
|Alt + Shift + T||Insert TIME Field|
|Control + F9||Insert Empty Field|
|Control + Shift + F7||Update Linked Data|
|F9||Update Selected Fields|
|Control + Shift + F9||Remove Link From Field.|
|Shift + F9||Toggle Code and Result for Selected Field|
|Alt + F9||Toggle All Field Codes and Results|
|Alt + Shift + F9||Run GOTOBUTTON Or MACROBUTTON|
|Shift + F11||Previous Field|
|Control + F11||Lock Field|
|Control + Shift + F11||Unlock Field|
If you want to send the same letter multiple recipients, print labels or prepare a personalized but standard document, you can use mail merge instead of creating as many documents as the number on your list. The mail merge feature allows you to merge your main document with a data source to end up with identical documents with unique details on some sections.