Mail merge

A mail merge is a software function that creates a large number of documents from a single template and data source (merging the two together). The template contains unchanging information with fields for the changing or unique information. A mail merge is typically performed by a word processor, like Microsoft Word.

With Microsoft Word for Macintosh

  1. From the Tools menu, select Mail Merge Manager. The Mail Merge Manager will appear on the right side of the screen.
  2. The Mail Merge Manager will walk you through the steps to perform a merge.
  3. First select your Document Type.
  4. Select Recipient List.
  5. Drag the placeholders into the location in the document.
  6. Finish your document including the placeholders.
  7. The next step is to Preview your letter.
  8. In the Complete Merge area, select your preference - Merge to new document or Merge to the printer. If you choose new document, your original pre-merged document is still open behind the merged document.

With Microsoft Word for Windows

  1. Launch Microsoft Word.
  2. On the Mailings tab, select Start Mail Merge > select the type of merge you would like to do.
  3. To select your data source (the information that changes) click Select Recipients and choose the source of your data.
  4. Compose your document. Add fields from your data source by using the Insert Merge Field option.
  5. After inserting your merge fields, the next step is to Preview your letter. Select Preview Results.
  6. The Preview allows you to page through each record, if you need to go back to the original document and make changes - click the Preview Results again.
  7. After previewing your merge, click Finish & Merge, select your preferred option. If you choose to view the document - a new document is created after the merge is complete.
  8. Now you have the option to print your document or save it.
  9. You can also save the pre-merged document. Saving this document allows you to open and use the document with a new data set in the future.

Helpful hints

Numbers not printing correctly? (Word for Windows)
Occasionally in a merge you have problems with the formatting of numbers from your data set. If you want Word to use the same formatting that your Excel dataset is using -
  1. From the File Menu in Word > Options > Advanced.
  2. In the General section click the Confirm file format conversion on open box. Click OK.
  3. When opening the data set, at the Confirm Data Source window - check the Show All box, and select Excel Files via ODBC (*.xls, xlsx, slsm, slsb). This will tell Word to use the Excel number formatting.
Saving a merge to use again
If you want to save your merged document to use again, perhaps with a different data set - Save your document before the Preview records stage.
Practice data set
Here is a practice data set for trying a mail merge in Word. Data Set