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Introduction to Mail Merge

 

Mail Merge Fundamentals

 

Introduction

A mail merge is a word processing feature that allows creating common letters, mailing labels, envelopes, or cataloging documents to and/or for a group of people as stored in a database.

Some examples of mail merge scenarios are:

  • A letter has to be sent to various parents, tutors, or guardians of students of a high school.

  • A company keeps track of its various customers with the product each particular customer is interested in; then the company regularly sends a letter to these customers to signal a promotion or special discount they would benefit from.

  • An employer would like to send a letter to employees according to their respective department.

When creating a Mail Merge in Microsoft Word, you can use data from various sources including a Microsoft Outlook contact list, a Microsoft Excel worksheet, a Microsoft Access database, or a Notepad text document. But the easiest way is to create a small database of items in Microsoft Word. Then, insert these items or data into a main document that you will eventually create or design.

Data Source Creation

To use a Mail Merge document in Microsoft Word, first create the document where data will originate from: this is called the source document. The source document resembles a small database of resources combining fields and their related data such as customers name and other personal information.

We are going to create a mail merge used by a car dealer who keeps track of his valuable customers and send them a regular newsletter whenever he has a beneficial promotion.

 

Practical Learning Practical Learning: Creating a Table of Resources

  1. Start Microsoft Word

  2. From the main menu, click Tools -> Mail Merge…

  3. From the Mail Merge Helper dialog, click Create -> Form Letters…

    Microsoft Word Mail Merge

  4. Click Active Window

  5. Click Get Data -> Create Data Source…

  6. In the Field Names In Header Row list, click Address1 to select it

  7. Click Remove Field Name

  8. Press the right arrow key to position the mouse at the end of Address1

  9. Press Backspace to remove 1 and click Add Field Name. That inserts the Address field in the list.

  10. In the Field Names In Header Row list, click Address2 and click Remove Field Name

  11. In the Field Names In Header Row list, click PostalCode and click Remove Field

  12. In the Field Name, select Postal and type ZIP so that when you finish, you will have ZIPCode

  13. While ZIPCode is highlighted in the Field Name: box, click Add Field Name

  14. In the Field Name: box, type Make and click Add Field Name

  15. In the Field Name, type Model and click Add Field Name

  16. Remove the HomePhone and Country fields from the Field Names In Header Row list.

  17. To move an item in the list, first click it; then use the arrow of the Move section to move it up or down. For example, in the Field Names In Header Row, click Address to select it.

    Create Data Source

  18. Click the up arrow above Move to move it up.

  19. Rearrange items so that when you finish, the list will be as follows: Title, FirstName, LastName, JobTitle, Company, WorkPhone, Address, City, State, ZIPCode, Make, Model

    Create Data Source - Complete List

  20. When the list is ready, click OK.

  21. Before continuing, Microsoft Word would like you to save the data structure you have just created.

  22. On the Save As dialog, click the Create New Folder button.

  23. Type Sales Contacts and press Enter.

  24. If you are using Microsoft Word 2000, the new folder should be displaying in the Save In combo box. If you are using Microsoft Word 97, double-click the Sales Contacts folder to display it in the Save In combo box.

  25. In the File Name, type Valuable Car Customers

  26. Click Save

  27. We have just created a structure for our database. Now Microsoft Word needs to know where the originating data is located. Since we don't have any data available at this time, we will create a few records of the car dealer customers
    Click Edit Data Source

  28. Type Mrs. Press Enter

  29. Type Josiane and press Enter

  30. Type Ndolo and press Enter

  31. Type NetAdmin and press Tab

  32. Type Crocodile Resources, Inc. and press Tab

  33. Type (202) 439-4428 and press Tab

  34. Type 9404 Georgia Ave Ste 402 and press Enter

  35. Type Silver Spring and press Enter

  36. Type MD and press Enter

  37. Type 20905 Enter Lincoln Enter Continental Enter

  38. Enter the other records

  39. When you have finished, click OK.

  40. Now is the time to read the letter

 

Letter Creation

Once the source document has been prepared, you can create the main letter as the document to be sent to the intended audience, in this case the car customers.

The document you create here is structurally similar to a regular correspondence, except that you don't need to remember the recipients. You will be using fields created from the source document.

Once you are back in Microsoft Word, there is a new toolbar on your screen. The Mail Merge toolbar allows you to perform all kinds of operations related to mail merging. We will use the buttons one by one and as we move on, you will find out what each one is used for.

After designing the letter, you can substitute the recipient 's information by selecting the appropriate field using the Insert Merge Field button from the Mail Merge toolbar.

 

Practical Learning Practical Learning: Creating the Letter

  1. In the empty document, press Ctrl + E to center align the cursor

  2. Type College Park Auto Park

  3. Press Enter and type A Client/Service Alternative

  4. Press Enter five times

  5. On the main menu, click Insert -> Date And Time…

  6. From the Date And Time dialog, click the 3rd date. Make sure that the Update Automatically check box is checked.

    Date And Time

  7. Click OK

  8. Press Enter 4 times.

  9. Highlight the first line of text, College Park Auto Park

  10. On the main menu, click Format -> Font...

  11. From the Font dialog change the font to Garamond (if you don't have Garamond, select Georgia or Times New Roman) and Bold; change its size to 20. Click the Character Spacing property sheet. Change the Spacing combo box to Expanded By 1.2 pt. Click OK

  12. Select the 2nd line, A Client/Service Alternative

  13. Using the Font combo box on the Formatting toolbar, change its size to 14, Italic.

    Title Section

  14. ssd

  15. Press Ctrl + End to get to the end of the document

  16. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Align Left button.

  17. On the Mail Merge toolbar, click Insert Merge Field button Insert Merge Field and click Title

  18. Press Space

  19. On the Mail Merge toolbar, click Insert Merge Field -> FirstName

  20. Press Space. Click Insert Merge Field -> LastName and press Enter

  21. Click Insert Merge Field -> Address Enter

  22. Click Insert Merge Field -> City

  23. Type , and press Space

  24. Click Insert Merge Field -> State and press Space

  25. Click Insert Merge Field -> ZIPCode

  26. Press Enter 4 times

  27. Type Dear and press Space

  28. Click Insert Merge Field -> FirstName , Enter twice

  29. Type I hope your recent acquisition of the 

  30. Click Insert Merge Field -> Make and press Space

  31. Click Insert Merge Field -> Model and press Space

  32. Continue typing is satisfying your regular needs of a reliable car. As one of our most valuable customers, I would like to invite you to our one-day event this Saturday for a test drive of our new Swing Victoria. This car has received the best reviews of this year's market. As a

  33. Press Space

  34. Click Insert Merge Field -> JobTitle and press Space

  35. Type at and press Space

  36. Click Insert Merge Field -> Company

  37. Type , I believe that your company can benefit from the pleasure you will experience with this brand new offer.

  38. Press Enter twice

  39. Type I hope to see you this Saturday in our regular location.

  40. Press Enter 5 times

  41. On the main menu, click Insert -> AutoText -> Closing -> Sincerely,

  42. Press Enter 3 times

  43. Type Justine Maurice and press Enter

  44. Type Director of Sales, Chief Customer Representative and press Enter

  45. Type College Park Auto Park

  46. Right-click anywhere in the first big paragraph that starts with I hope your recent... and select Paragraph from the shortcut menu.

  47. In the Paragraph dialog, make sure you  are in the Indents And Spacing property sheet. Make sure the Alignment is set to Left. Click the Special combo box and select First Line. Set the By spin button to 1".

    Paragraph

  48. Click OK. Check your letter to make sure it looks professional.

  49. On the main menu, click View -> Header And Footer

  50. From the Header And Footer toolbar, click Switch Between Header and Footer

  51. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Center button

  52. Type 8602 Baltimore Ave and press Space

  53. On the main menu, click Insert -> Symbol… Change the Font combo box to Monotype Sort. Click the symbol on 3rd column, 4th row and click Insert. Move the Insert dialog up or down to make sure you can see the lower section of the letter.

  54. Click on the right side of the new diamond in the footer section of the letter.

  55. Press Space and type College Park, MD 20707-3312

  56. Press Shift + Enter

  57. Type Phone (301) 726-4402 and press Space

  58. On the Insert dialog, double-click the same diamond symbol you added earlier, then close the Symbol dialog.

  59. Press Space and type Fax (301) 726-4412

  60. Select/highlight both lines of the footer section

  61. Press Ctrl + D which is a shortcut to call the Font dialog. Click the Font property sheet and change the font to Garamond, Regular, Size 10. Click the Character Spacing property sheet. Change the Spacing combo box to Expanded By 1.2 pt. Click OK

  62. While both lines in the Footer section are still selected, on the main menu, click Format -> Change Case… Make sure that the UPPERCASE radio button is selected and click OK.

    Letter Footer Section

    Now, our letter has been written.

  63. Save the letter as Sales Promotion Letter

  64. Make sure you select the C:\My Documents\Sales Contacts folder. Click Save.

  65. Read the letter

 

Letter Reading

Once the document has been created, you can check its behavior and accuracy by using the View Merged Data from the Mail Merge toolbar.

After you have inserted the fields, your document appears to be filled with unreadable characters although their meaning seems obvious. To read the letter in its real version, you should remove or toggle these characters.

View Merged Data The View Merged Data allows you to read your document more realistically. When you press it, it appears in a grayed state.
Last Record The First Record button will displays the very first record on the database.
Previous Record If you have at least one record behind, click the Previous record button.
Go To Record To jump to a particular record, click in the Go To Record text box, type a number and press Enter. The corresponding record will be displayed.
Next Record When navigating through the records, click the Next Record to get to the next.
Last Record Clicking the Last Record button will take you to the very last record in the database.

To navigate from one record to another, use the navigation button on the Mail Merge toolbar.

 

Practical Learning Practical Learning: Reading the Letter

  1. On the Mail Merge toolbar, click the View Merged Data button. Notice that the << and >> signs are gone, now the letter more readable. Also notice the state of the View Merged Data button.

  2. Read the letter from top to bottom and review its style.

  3. Click the Next Record button. Check the name of the car make and model for the current customer.

  4. Click the Previous record button and notice that both customers letters display different cars.

  5. Navigate to other records by clicking the Next Record button a few times

 

Introduction

To perform a mail merge, you can use text that was prepared from a flat (ASCII) text document.

You can create a text document from Notepad, WordPad, Microsoft Word, or any other text editor that allows you to save text in ASCII format. You could also convert an existing text created from another software such as a database's table, a spreadsheet, an HTML file, etc, into a text document. Most of the software products that support text files allow you to save their native document as a text file. Microsoft products recognize such a file with a .txt extension.

When creating the text, separate different fields by pressing Tab and follow it carefully. Sometimes, as some parts of the documents take more space, they will not appear aligned. You should not pay attention to that, just press Tab after typing a field of information. At the end of each record, which covers a line, press Enter (some people call this a hard return or a carriage return). Save the file as text and remember the folder where it is located.

Once you have a text file, in Microsoft Word, click Tools -> Mail Merge to initialize the mail merge process. After electing to create the document, such as letters, labels, envelopes, etc, click the Get Data button and select Open Data Source... From the Open Data Source dialog, click the Files Of Types combo box and select either All Files or Text Files. Using the Look In combo box, locate the folder where the file is located, select the file and click Open. Another dialog will prompt you for the file format you want to use, select text file and click OK. Finally, the Mail Merge Helper will ask you to edit the document.

 

Practical Learning Practical Learning: Reading the Letter

  1. Start Microsoft Word.

  2. On the main menu, click Tools -> Mail Merge...

  3. From the Mail Merge Helper dialog, click Create -> Form Letters...

    Mail Merge Helper

  4. From the Microsoft Word dialog, click New Main Document

    Microsoft Word

  5. From the Mail Merge Helper again, click Get Data and click Open Data Source...

  6. From the Open Data Source dialog, click the arrow of the Files Of Types combo box and select All Files. Using the Look In combo box, locate the folder where the exercise files were installed, it should be C:\My Documents\Mail Merge Files

    Open Data Source

  7. In the list of files, click Fraternal Pledge Association and click Open.

  8. From the Confirm Data Source dialog, click Text Files (*.txt)

    Confirm Data Source

  9. And click OK.

  10. Now Microsoft Word would like you to create the letter.

    Edit Main Document

    Click Edit Main Document

  11. Now we will create the main letter.
    Your cursor should be on the very first line. On the main menu, click View -> Print Layout to make sure the document is displaying in Print Layout View.

  12. Press Enter twice to move the cursor down.

  13. Press Ctrl + Home to return to the first, empty line.

  14. Click the arrow of the Font combo box and select Verdana.

  15. Click the arrow of the Font Size com box and select 22.

  16. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Bold and the Center buttons.

  17. If you have the Tables And Borders toolbar, fine. Otherwise, right-click any button on any toolbar and click Tables And Borders. Position the Tables And Borders toolbar at the bottom part of your screen.
    From the Tables And Borders toolbar, make sure the continuous line is displaying in the Line Style combo box. Click the arrow of the Line Weight combo box and select 2 1/4 pt.

  18. Click the arrow of the Borders button and select Top Border

    Top Border

  19. Click the arrow of the Borders button again and select Bottom Border.

  20. On the Mail Merge toolbar, click Insert Merge Field -> Association

  21. Press Ctrl + End to position your cursor to the end of the document (which is currently on the 3rd line).

  22. On the horizontal ruler, drag the Left Indent marker right at 1/2 and inch

    Left Indent

  23. On the main menu, click Insert -> Date And Time...

  24. From the Date And Time dialog, click the 3rd date and click OK.

  25. Press Enter twice.

  26. Type Dear and press Space

  27. On the Mail Merge toolbar, click Insert Merge Field -> FirstName

  28. Press Space

  29. Click Insert Merge Field -> LastName

  30. Type , and press Enter twice. If the Office Assistant comes up, click Cancel.

  31. Type Thank you for your recent pledge of

  32. Press Space

  33. Click Insert Merge Field -> PledgeAmount

  34. Press Space and type to our annual fund raising operation conducted last month.

  35. Press Enter twice and type Although we have not yet received your donation, we are convinced you will mail it to us upon reception of this humble thank you note.

    Mail Merge Letter

  36. Press Enter twice and type The

  37. Press Space

  38. Click Insert Merge Field -> Association

  39. Press Space and type you have generously decided to support is constantly conducting thorough research in the areas of

  40. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> Disease

  41. Press Space and type including prevention, pre and post occurrences, diagnosis, treatment, and all available extra care and assistance we can provide. We encourage you to review our brochure and visit our Web Site for more information.

  42. Press Enter twice and type Supporting our on-going efforts in all areas involving

  43. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> Disease

  44. Press Space and type is a major step toward eradicating this disease. And, once again, we thank you.

  45. Press Enter twice and type Celestine Hancock

  46. Press Enter and type Pledge Program Director.

  47. Press Enter 4 times and type Please send your check payable to

  48. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> Association

  49. Press Enter four times

  50. On the Standard toolbar, click the Insert Table button and select a table with 4 columns and one row (1 x 4 table).

  51. Click inside the first cell, the most left cell of the table, and type Please Mail-in This Form With Your Payment

  52. Select the text you just typed. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Font Size combo box and select 8

  53. Right-click inside the first cell and choose Text Alignment...

  54. From the Text Direction dialog, in the Orientation section, click the button in 1st column, 2nd row.

    Text Direction

  55. Click OK

  56. Select the text in the first cell and press Ctrl + C.

  57. Right-click in the last cell, the most right cell, and click Paste.

  58. Change the direction of the text in the last cell to appear vertically aligned like the first cell.

  59. move the 2nd vertical line left and the 4th vertical line right.

  60. Click inside the 2nd cell and press Enter.

  61. On the Mail Merge toolbar, click Insert Merge Field -> Association and press Enter

  62. Click Insert Merge Field -> AssAddress and press Enter

  63. Click Insert Merge Field -> AssCity

  64. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> AssState

  65. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> AssZIPCode

  66. Press Enter 4 times.

  67. Click Insert Merge Field -> FirstName

  68. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> LastName

  69. Press Enter and click Insert Merge Field -> Address

  70. Press Enter and click Insert Merge Field -> City

  71. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> State

  72. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> ZIPCode

  73. Press Enter twice.

  74. Click the empty cell in the right side.

  75. Press Enter.

  76. Type Pledge:

  77. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> PledgeAmount

  78. Press Enter 6 times

  79. Click Insert Merge Field -> Association

  80.  and press Enter

  81. Click Insert Merge Field -> AssAddress and press Enter

  82. Click Insert Merge Field -> AssCity

  83. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> AssState

  84. Press Space and click Insert Merge Field -> AssZIPCode

  85. Once again, move the 2nd vertical line to the left and move the 4th vertical line to the right.

    Mail Merge Letter - From Text

  86. Select the whole sentence that starts with Thank you for your...

  87. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Bold, the Italic, and the Center buttons

  88. Click anywhere on the line starting with Please send...

  89. On the Table And Borders toolbar, click the arrow of the Line Weight combo box and select 1/2 pt.

  90. Click the arrow of the Borders button and click Top Border.

  91. Click the arrow of the Borders button again and click Bottom Border.

  92. On the same Tables And Borders toolbar, click the arrow of the Shading Color button and select Gray 10%.

  93. On the Formatting, click the Center button.

  94. Right-click any button on any toolbar and click Drawing.

  95. From the Drawing toolbar, click the Line button.

  96. Click between the line Please send... and the top border of the table and drag to draw a horizontal line. Resize the line so that it covers the (whole) width of the letter.

  97. While the line is still selected, on the Drawing toolbar, click the Line Style button and click More Lines.

  98. From the Format AutoShape dialog, make sure the Colors And Lines property sheet is selected. Click the Dashed combo box and select Dash.

  99. Increase the Weight spin button to 2 pt

    Format AutoShape

  100. Click OK.

  101. Click on the line under the graphic line you just added.

  102. Press the up arrow key to move the cursor on the same line the graphic line is.

  103. On the Formatting toolbar, set the Font Size to 22.

  104. On the main menu, click Insert -> Symbol...

  105. From the Symbol dialog, make sure you are in the Symbols property sheet. Click the arrow of the Font combo box and select Wingdings.

  106. From the list, click the symbol on the 3rd column, 1st row:

    Symbol

  107. Click Insert. And click Close.

  108. Adjust the graphic line and the scissors symbol so that the scissors appear cutting the graphic line.

  109. Right-click inside the table and click Borders And Shading...

  110. From the Borders and Shading dialog, click the Borders property sheet.

  111. In the Setting section, click None. Then click Box.

  112. In the Width combo box, select 1 1/2 pt.

  113. Click the Shading property sheet.

  114. Click More Colors...

  115. On the Colors dialog, click Custom.

  116. Set the color to Red:221, Green:242, Blue:255.

    Colors

  117. On the Colors dialog, click OK

  118. On the On the Borders And Shading dialog, click OK

  119. To read the letter, on the Mail Merge toolbar, click View Merged Data

  120. Use the navigation buttons to review all the letters with each recipient

 


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