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Word 2010: Mail Merge in Depth
Illustration by Neil Webb

Creating a new data source for Mail Merge


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Word 2010: Mail Merge in Depth

with Gini Courter

Video: Creating a new data source for Mail Merge

If the variable data you want to use for mail merge - names and addresses or part numbers and inventory items, for example - doesn't already exist in any electronic format, you can create a new data source for mail merge right here in Word 2010. I want to start by stressing that you should not create a new data source if the data already exists. There is always a way to get the data to Excel or to Outlook so that you can use it. However, if you have a stack of forms that people filled out and you need to enter them somewhere, this is a great way to do it.

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Word 2010: Mail Merge in Depth
1h 31m Intermediate Sep 10, 2010

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In Word 2010: Mail Merge in Depth, author Gini Courter demonstrates how to take advantage of Word's Mail Merge feature to save a tremendous amount of time creating customized documents. The course offers tutorials on creating letters, emails, envelopes, and labels. It also shows how to use Mail Merge with Outlook and Excel, creating data sources, inserting fields, using IF and other rules for customized merges, and troubleshooting Mail Merge issues. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Choosing or creating a data source
  • Using Mail Merge with Outlook contacts
  • Merging data from an Excel spreadsheet
  • Inserting address blocks and greetings
  • Matching fields from a data source
  • Previewing merge results
  • Using rules for customized merges
Subject:
Business
Software:
Word
Author:
Gini Courter

Creating a new data source for Mail Merge

If the variable data you want to use for mail merge - names and addresses or part numbers and inventory items, for example - doesn't already exist in any electronic format, you can create a new data source for mail merge right here in Word 2010. I want to start by stressing that you should not create a new data source if the data already exists. There is always a way to get the data to Excel or to Outlook so that you can use it. However, if you have a stack of forms that people filled out and you need to enter them somewhere, this is a great way to do it.

We are going to choose Select Recipients on the Mailings tab in Word and then choose Type New List. When we do, the New Address List dialog box opens, and it's waiting for us to enter some information, so we can easily do that. We can enter all the folks that we need to send this letter to, simply typing all the information. You will notice we have fields for Address, City, State, ZIP Code, Home Phone, Work Phone, Email Address, and then if we keep tabbing, it comes all the way back to the beginning.

If you don't want to fill in all those fields, for example perhaps you are just putting in enough information to create some nametags, then you can simply click New Entry to drop down a line and enter as many items as you wish. Now this is initially set up to collect basic contact information. You can, however, customize the columns if you wish, renaming the fields. You can also add new fields. So, for example, if we needed to have the kind of field on a name tags that says someone who is a member since a particular year, we could put in MembershipYear as a field.

That will appear wherever we had selected. So if we wanted to move it up or down we could, and if we don't have titles, we could simply delete that. It says any information contained in this field will be deleted as well. That's a stock prompt. Not that you shouldn't look at it, but this is not telling you that there is information in the title field. It's simply saying if there is, and you delete it, it will be gone. So we will say, Yes, and now we have the ability to put in the MembershipYear for each person and use that information later in a mail merge.

When I close this New Address List dialog box, I am going to be prompted to provide a name for this set of data. So we are going to call this Members, and notice that it will be saved as a Microsoft Office Address List. When I go back and say I'd like to edit the Recipient List, it opens it up again in the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box. But you might notice that the data source is a .mdb file. This is a Microsoft Database or an Access Database file type.

So I can actually open this data source in Access, where it is a single table access database and edit it there, or use queries to do some bulk editing, rather than edit it here only in this Mail Merge Recipients List. This sort of looks like the kind of tool you'd use for a short, little list, but because this is stored in Access, and I have access then to that power of a robust database engine, I can store a lot of information in here if I wish to. So edit here or edit in Access; either way.

If you already have a data source in Outlook, Excel, Access or elsewhere that you can use or expand and use, don't create a new data set in Word. But if you need to create a data source, it is quick and easy to set it up in Word 2010, a great data source that you can use here or use an Access. Once you set it up, after that, it's just typing.

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