Introduction to Mail Merge

Many people get confused when it comes to setting up a mail merge but it is actually a simple process and useful tool once you understand how to set up the 3 components of a Mail Merge.   Mail Merge is basically used to combine a standardized document such as a business letter with a set of data that is normally stored in an Excel Spreadsheet, Access database or in a table in Word.  The set of data, called the data source,  is normally the names and addresses for the mass mailing.  Mail Merge saves time by applying this personalized data to your master document.

If you need to do a large mailing with hundreds or even thousands of customers or clients, Mail Merge is a huge time saver.  Without Mail Merge, you would have to type the same text into hundreds of documents.

Mail Merge can be used to create personalized form letters, mailing labels, envelopes, and more. The merged document can be previewed, printed, or saved for later.  Mail Merge allows you to create just one main document and use one data source that contains all your clients names and addresses.  The Mailings tab on the Ribbon provides guidance and tools for conducting a Mail Merge.

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There are three components of a Mail Merge:

  1. The main document controls the merge. It contains the fixed information that will be in every letter and the merged codes where the variable text will be.
  2. The data source is a document or database that contains the information that will be different for each letter.  Remember, the data source is usually the names and addresses.  It can be stored in a table in Word, an Excel Spreadsheet or a table in Access.
  3. The merged document is the result of a merge. These are the individual letters that result from the merge. The merge fields are replaced with the actual data from the Data Source file.

Conducting a Mail Merge

The Main Document

  1. Any document may be used as a main document if merge fields are added.
  2. Merge fields will be filled in by the data source when the merge is performed.
  3.  Insert merge fields by using the Write & Insert Fields group on the Mailings tab.

Mail Merge Main Document

The Data Source

Data sources document contain names, addresses, telephone numbers, or other information. Data is collected and stored in fields, such as “name” or “city”  More fields provide more flexibility. For example, a full name field will not allow you to use just the first or last name in a merged document. Instead, use a first name, last name, and salutation field for more flexibility.
The New Address List dialog box in Word contains common fields for addresses. It’s a good way to create an effective address list for your Mail Merge.


The Merged Documents

Merging combines a main document with a data source to produce a merged document.
The Review Results group on the Mailings tab allows you to preview letters before performing the merge.  Use the Finish Merge command when you are confident that your main document and data source are accurate.  If the original main document and data source are saved, you don’t need to keep the merged documents after printing.   It’s also possible to edit individual merged documents before printing or saving.

Merged Documents from a Mail Merge

 The Mailings Tab

Microsoft Word makes Mail Merge easy with the Mailings Tab on the Ribbon.  In order to do this tutorial you will need to have a version of Microsoft 2010 or 2013 installed on your computer.

mailings tab

Mail Merge Tutorial

To complete the tutorial, you will need to open the Seaside Realty Main Document below and open up the Mail Merge Tutorial below which is in PDF form.  You will be creating your data source from scratch.

You will also need Microsoft Word 2010 or 2013 installed on your computer



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