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How to do a mail merge in Microsoft Word
You already know, and either love or hate, Microsoft Word. Writing your letters is easy, but with just a little help, it can also be easy to do more advanced tasks. With mail merge, you can easily print or email forms to multiple recipients. Here’s a quick guide to get you mailing in minutes.
To create a mail merge in Microsoft Word, select the Mailings tab and click Start Mail Merge.
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What is a mail merge?
A mail merge is the easiest way to send similar letters to multiple recipients. You can create a batch of personalized documents for each recipient, which saves time and effort. For example, you may want to send the same essential email to multiple people. By using mail merge, you can swap in the correct name and address for each one without copying and pasting the message.
Mail merge can draw from a data source, such as a list or spreadsheet, to fill in the relevant blanks of your document. Placeholders—called merge fields—indicate to Word where in the document to include which information from the data source.
When to use mail merge?
Whenever you need to send something to multiple people, it’s good to use mail merge. Whether it’s a letter requiring personalized greetings, an email being sent to multiple addresses, or a physical envelope in need of both, mail merge has you covered.
In an Excel spreadsheet, create a column of recipient names to use as your data source. Then, in Word, you can link your Excel spreadsheet to input the merge fields accordingly. Here are some tips to prepare your Excel spreadsheet for a mail merge.
- If you want to address readers by just their first name in your document, you’ll need two separate columns for first and last names.
- Include all the data you want to merge in the first sheet of your spreadsheet.
- Make sure data entries with percentages, currencies, and postal codes are correctly formatted so that Word can properly read their values.
- Save the Excel spreadsheet to be used in the mail merge on your device, not to the cloud.
- Complete any changes or additions to your spreadsheet before it’s connected to your mail merge document in Word.
How to do a mail merge
Getting started is just as easy as starting many other Word functions. Head to the Mailings tab in a new document and look for the drop-down that says Start Mail Merge. The menu should look a little bit like the picture below:
Choose the bottom option: Step-by-step Mailing Wizard. Now you’ll see a menu on the right side of your screen where you can select Letters as your format.
After you choose to start with a letter, you can make a selection to start from an existing document or open up a template to edit. It might seem like it’s time to write your letter, but you’ll choose your recipients next. You can select from an existing list if you have one or start a new list that looks like this:
You’re finally ready for the meaty part of a mail merge — writing your letter and adding the customizable fields. Luckily for you, Word has a menu on the side where you can note the Address Block, Greeting Line, and more items that will vary by the recipient. From there, you have to write the body of your letter. All of these steps together should look like this:
The last step to doing a mail merge is to fill in the customization blocks for each recipient. This shouldn’t take long because you already have your recipient list, so you can click through a series of drop-down menus to make each letter unique. You won’t have to spend the time typing each recipient individually because Word will save your list for future use, complete with names and addresses.
It’s that easy to do a mail merge, and now that you have some essential tips, you can send letters faster and easier. However, there’s a lot more to Word and Microsoft Office.
What else can Office do?
A quick mail merge is just the first rung in the ladder to Office mastery. Microsoft Office also includes PowerPoint, Excel, and Access, and they all complement each other. You can learn how to control databases in Access and create brilliant presentations in PowerPoint and then embed them into your mail merge. The power and freedom to choose are all yours.
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