The most useful feature in Microsoft Word is Mail Merge and I'm afraid this is the least used feature!
Mail Merge is a process of combining source document with data source to create merged document such as letters, emails, quotations, invoices, contracts, surveys, reports and audits.
Mail merge is a very useful tool that helps you create multiple copies of a document like letters, invitations, circulations etc. each with small difference in them. In spite of its immense utility, very few people are really using it. Most people do tedious task of copy and paste and perform required modification not because Mail Merge is inefficient but because they tend to take it as complex process. Poor them! I wonder why, even training institutes exclude mail merge from their course when teaching Office Package (MS Word, MS Excel, MS Access, and MS PowerPoint). How could anybody afford to skip such practically useful topic? Truly speaking, Mail Merge as much easier as it is useful.
The next thing surprises me is a whole lot of mail merge software and applications flourished over the net. There is not lack of mail merge template, nor fax mail merge programs. Some are free downloadable and some are paid. They might be useful for advanced and complex type of merging and mass mailing but consider if you really need them? Is Mail Merge tool provided in MS Word not sufficient for what you intend - forced you to look for other applications?
There might be numerous situations when mail merge is suitable solution to accomplish your tasks quickly and efficiently. Some examples are:
* You needed to print envelopes to mail letters. Recipients name, street address, city, state, country, zip code, contact etc might have stored on Excel spreadsheet, or Access database, or even in Word document itself.
* You needed to send same message but personalized emails to many people.
* You needed to fax a memo to all of your branches and officials.
* Print Students' Report Cards or Marks Cards of an examination.
* Send notice to different concerned people
* And many many
The process involves three major components:
This is the format and structure of document with text and graphics where we insert the placeholders for data to fall in. The merged document will be created exactly like main document with different content coming form data source document. Main documents can be Letters, E-Mail Message, Envelopes, Labels, Directory or any custom document structure.
This is the storehouse of data. Most often this file is already created for different other purposes. Your company database or spreadsheet or even a list created can be used as data source if it contains the data items you require to fill up in your main document. When there is no file, required for mail merge, don't worry! The option to create a new data source always exists. The most useful data source could be your Outlook Contacts if you need to merge and send to email addresses.
This is a process that picks data items from Data Source and fills the place holders in Main Document to create a new merged document or send in mail or even send in fax. You can send merge to the printer directly, send to fax or to outlook.
After talking all this, it would be easier to understand through an example. I'm going to show you how you can create envelopes using mail merge in Word 2007.
Step 1. Create Main Document
Step 2. Create or identify data source
Step 3. Merge
Take a new document, then:
- Click the Mailings ribbon
- From 'Start Mail Merge' button choose 'Envelopes'. Choose the required 'Envelope size' and specify the preferred font for 'Delivery address' and 'Return address'. For my purpose I selected Size 10 Envelop size and default fonts
- Click OK to accept and close the dialog box.
- Now, type your return address. This won't be changing for each recipient so you can simply type on envelop.
- Since we don't have recipients yet, let us choose the data source. Click on Select Recipients button.
- If you have the data source already created you can choose 'Use Existing List…'. For current purpose, I'm creating a new list. So choose 'Type a New List' menu. MS Word will open 'New Address List' dialog box. This will be suitable for most cases. If not, you can customize columns. Look at the button at the bottom.
- Type the list of your recipients in this box. When finished click OK and save the data source file giving it a name.
- After you specify recipients, now you can return to your main document and insert the place holders.
- Place the insertion line in Recipients text box and Click on 'Insert Merge Field' button and Choose Title.
- Similarly, inset other fields as shown in figure.
- Done. You are ready to merge now. If you wish how the data will be filled in, click on Preview Results button on Mailings ribbon.
- To merge, click on Finish and Merge button and choose suitable menu. You should get something like below: