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In Word 2007: 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.
Mail merge requires two documents. The first is a primary document created in Word that contains text that's used in every document, as well as instructions on where to insert variable text. Let's take a look at an existing document and decide what portions of the document would be used in every single version, and what portions are a variable. We have a letter that we're sending to Tabitha Castro. Normally, what we might do is we'd go through the letter and we would erase some parts or use cut-and-paste in order to put in our variable information.
I'm going to use the Highlighting tool in Word to show you the parts that are variable as we go through the letter. You don't need to highlight them, but we do need to understand them. First, in each letter, we'll notice that it's addressed to a different person with their address. This is known as an address block. So in each letter, it will be different. This is variable text. Next, we have a greeting line. It says Dear Tabitha. Now in a letter to John Doe, it would say Dear John. This is variable text, the name.
But it's also true that if we don't have any name, for example all we have is a company without a contact, we don't want that word Dear to appear by itself. Dear blank. You may have received bad form letters like that. The entire greeting line is actually variable, because we don't want to see Dear if we don't have a name. So I'm going to highlight that. As we scroll down, you'll also see that Tabitha's name is in the middle of this third paragraph. Thank you for agreeing to take a leadership role, Tabitha, which makes it seem like she is the only person who is agreed to take a leadership role.
It's kind of a nice place to personalize. It's almost invigorating. Then the sentence that follows is also variable text. It says we want to make it even easier for out-of-state team members to participate, and provide some additional information. This sentence won't appear in every letter. It will only appear in the letters for out-of-state participants. Notice that it doesn't say if you're from out-of-state. It says you have someone assigned to you, because you are out of state.
As we scroll through the rest of the letter, we'll find that we've caught all of the pieces that are variable: the address block, the greeting line, a callout using Tabitha's first name, and then a variable sentence to end that third paragraph. Now that we've identified these, we could remove all the highlighting if we wished or we can simply leave it in place as we work with the letter. Eventually, all that yellow will need to be replaced and go away. I want to save this letter then, but first, I want to say this is my merge letter.
So I'm going to choose Start Mail Merge and choose Letters as my type. Nothing really changes. It's a subtle change, but Word now knows that this will be a merge letter, not simply a letter sent to Tabitha. So, when we choose Save As to save this letter, I'm going to begin it with the word Merge, so that I know that this is actually a primary document that I'm ready to use in Microsoft Word. Click Save. Now we've identified the variable text and the constant text in our letter.
We're ready to move on to the next step of Word mail merge.
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