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Microsoft Word 2010 : Creating Form Letters with Mail Merge - Creating the Main Document, Specifying Data for Your Mail Merge

5/9/2013 7:34:15 PM

1. Creating the Main Document

YOU NEED TWO THINGS to create a personalized mailing with a mail merge: a letter, which is called the main document and contains the information that doesn’t change, and codes, called merge fields, that act as placeholders for the variable information. This variable information is usually a list of names and addresses, called the data source, and contains the information that does change for each letter. When you merge the two, the result is an individualized form letter, called the merge document.

For the main document, you can use a letter that you’ve previously created, or you can create a letter from scratch. Type your letter without filling in any of the information that will vary from recipient to recipient, such as addresses, meeting dates, and such.

The following steps show you how to begin the mail merge process:

  1. Open or type the letter you want as the main document.

  2. Choose Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Start Mail Merge > Letters. If you were not already in Print Layout view, Word switches to Print Layout view (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. A mail merge main document.



2. Specifying Data for Your Mail Merge

ONCE YOU CREATE your main document, you need to link the document to a file that contains your data. The data source could be in the form of a comma-separated value Word document, or it could be in an Excel worksheet or an Access database. See Figure 2 for an example of each document type—Excel, Access, and Word.

Figure 2. Possible data sources.

Two terms commonly used with merge data files are fields and records. A field is an individual piece of information about someone or something, such as a zip code, first name, or product description. A record is the complete picture of information with all the fields put together.

Selecting a Data Source

For the data source, you can select from a preexisting list or you can create a new one using Word. If you want to choose from an existing file, choose Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Select Recipients > Use Existing List (see Figure 3). The Select Data Source dialog box opens. Locate your data file and choose Open.

Figure 3. Selecting an existing data source.

If you have not already created a data source, you can create it with Word. Following are the steps for creating a data source in Word:

  1. Choose Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Select Recipients > Type New List. The New Address List dialog box appears. Word tries to anticipate your needs by providing the most commonly used data fields. (You’ll soon see how you can add extra fields.)

  2. Enter the data for the first recipient. You do not need to enter data into every field, as you see in Figure 4.

    Figure 4. Adding records.

    Tip

    Use the Tab key to move from one field to the next, or press Shift+Tab to return to a previous field.


  3. Click the New Entry button, which creates a blank line for the next recipient. Optionally, as you press Tab after the last field, Word automatically adds a line for the next recipient.

  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each additional recipient.

Although Word includes commonly used data fields, you may need to add your own fields or remove the predefined fields you don’t want. Click the Customize Columns button in the New Address List dialog box. The Customize Address List dialog box appears, like the one shown in Figure 5. Make any desired changes and then click OK.

Figure 5. Customizing data fields.


Here are the options available in the Customize Address List dialog box:

  • Add: To add additional fields, click the Add button. As shown in Figure 6, Word prompts you for a name for the new field. Type the name and click OK.

    Figure 6. Adding an additional data field.

  • Delete: To delete an unwanted field, click a field name and then click the Delete button. A confirmation message appears. Click Yes to confirm the deletion.

  • Rename: To rename a field, click the field name and then click the Rename button. Enter the new name in the resulting dialog box and click OK.

  • Move up: To move a field farther up in the list, click the field name and click the Move Up button until the field is located where you want it.

  • Move down: To move a field farther down in the list, click the field name and click the Move Down button until the field is located where you want it.

Tip

If you want to delete a record, click anywhere in the record and click the Delete Entry button. Click Yes to the resulting confirmation message.


When you have all your entries in the New Address List dialog box, click the OK button. Word prompts you to save your address list. By default, Word attempts to save the file in the Documents > My Data Sources folder. Select a different folder if desired. Enter a file name and then click Save.

Tip

Word saves the data file as an MDB file, which is an Access database file.


Selecting Recipients

You may have a number of names in your data file, but perhaps you don’t want to send the merged letter to everyone in the file. By default, Word assumes you want everyone in the data file, but you can pick and choose which recipients you want to use. Just follow these steps:

  1. Choose Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Edit Recipient List. You see a Mail Merge Recipients list similar to the one displayed in Figure 7.

    Figure 7. Deselect any recipient you don’t want to include.

    Tip

    Click any column heading to sort the records by the selected column.


  2. Click the check box to the left of the name for any recipient to whom you don’t want to send the form letter. The checkmark will be removed.

    Tip

    To edit recipient information, click the data source name, then click the Edit button. The Edit Data Source dialog box appears, from which you can make any desired changes.


  3. After determining that the desired recipients are checked, click the OK button.

 
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