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CREATING A MAIL MERGE

If you want to send a standard document to several different people (e.g. a circular letter) or want to create a sheet of mailing labels or other information from a database then mail merge is a useful tool.

To start a mail merge, click on the Tools drop-down menu and choose Mail Merge while you have a blank document on the screen as shown below.

The mail merge wizard will start and you will be asked to complete three steps as shown in the window below - the mail merge document, the data source and, finally, the merge.

When you click on the first button you will see the following window which asks what type of mail merge you are performing.  Unless you are producing envelopes or labels it is best to use the Form Letters option.

When you have chosen your option you will see this window appear which asks whether you want to use the document you currently have open (Active Window) or a new document.  If you have a blank document open you can use the Active Window.

You are now ready to go on to the next step.   Click on the Get Data button in the second section of the mail merge wizard window.  You will now have to select a data source for your mail merge.

You can either create a data source in Word by typing in lines of fields separated by commas or you can use an existing data source such as a database table or query, a spreadsheet or a text file.  If you use a spreadsheet then the first row should contain the field names.  If you use a text file then the first line should contain the field names separated by commas.  Some examples of different data sources are shown below:

Text File

Spreadsheet

Database

When you choose the Open Data Source option you will be asked to click on the file you want to use as shown below, we are using an Access database called mergefile.mdb.

As our data source is a database we are given the chance to choose the table or query we want to use for our mail merge.

If your data source is a spreadsheet you are given the chance to enter a range of cells or named range if you don't want to use the whole spreadsheet.

When you have opened your data source you will see the message below which tells you that your main document does not yet contain any merge fields.  Click the Edit Main Document button.

You are now ready to create your mail merge document.  Type in the text of your document and click on the Insert Field button at the top of the window whenever you want to insert information from your data source as shown below.

If you want to use your mail merge template for future merges it is a good idea to save it at this point.

When you have created your document, click on the Merge button at the top right of the window and your mail merge will start.  You will see the window below where you can choose whether to merge to a new document, direct to the printer, etc and the number of records to be merged.  You can also choose what will happen when blank fields are encountered.

If you click on the Query Options button, you will see the window below which lets you choose a set of records to merge meeting certain criteria - our criteria will only send letters to people in Leicestershire.

If you click on the Sort Records tab you will be able to produce your letters in a certain order.  We are going to sort by town.

When you have finished setting your Query Options, click OK and you will be returned to the merge window.  If you want to set the way in which Word deals with errors encountered in your mail merge you can click on the Check Errors button when you will see the window below.

When you are happy that your merge has been set up, click the Merge button in the main Merge window and your document will be merged in the way you have specified.

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