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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.
We have created our letter, we have selected a data set, we have mapped up or matched our fields so that Microsoft Word understands how the customized field names we have should be used, and now it's time for us to actually insert placeholders for the variable data that we are going to pull in from that Microsoft Excel data source into our merge letter. Remember that we simply highlighted this variable data to make it easy to spot. We actually don't want to have highlighted data in our finished letter.
So I am going to take a look at this address block, we're going to select it, delete it and now using the commands in the Write & Insert Field group, we're actually going to insert an address block right here in our letter. When I click Insert Address Block, I have a dialog box that opens that shows me a preview based on the choices that I make over here on this side of the dialog box. The data that I am seeing is from the first record in my data source, Meredith Alvarado. So if I want to have simply Meredith here, I choose a format that doesn't include a last name, I get just a first name here. There is a formal first and last name.
If I had Titles for folks in my database, it would say Ms. Meredith Alvarado, but I don't have that field so there is no difference in choosing this. What if I don't want to have a company name? Then I just turn it off and now I have a preview that does not include a company name. Or if I don't want a Postal Address and you might wonder, why wouldn't I want an address in an address block? And the answer is now I have a nametag, easily created. Finally, I can tell Microsoft Word to format the address according to the actual recipients, country and region, and that would determine, for example, whether a country name is listed first or last or not at all and Microsoft Word has all those localization settings based on different countries that I might be mailing to.
Notice that if I were missing some data that I thought I should have, I don't have to leave the Insert Address Block dialog in order to go back and to check on the matching for my fields to make sure that I have that correct. So now that I've inserted my address block, I am going to click OK. It's pretty underwhelming. All I have is this address block but if I say I want a preview the results, I can actually see the results of one of my records there. Now I need to insert a greeting line, so let's go ahead and get rid of the greeting line that's there already. Just delete it and choose Greeting Line in the Write & Insert Fields group, and again, I have some choices and a preview.
Would I like to have the word Dear, or To, or no information in front of the name? Do I want to have the first and last name, the full name, or would I just like to have the first name? So make your choices here for the beginning of the salutation, the presentation of the name, and the punctuation that you'd like to use on your greeting line. Then decide how you would like to handle records that are invalid.
Now one way a record might be invalid is it's a company name only. There is no first or last name, or perhaps you've chosen a format that's first names but this is someone but you have no first name for, and our choices are to say if the name itself is invalid either to insert Dear or Madam, To Whom It May Concern, or to have no greeting line whatsoever and to leave it blank. In any event, any of those choices are better than the letter that says Dear no name, or Dear with a blank behind it.
So I'm going to choose Dear Sir or Madam and again Match Fields button if I need it, say OK and insert my greeting line and if I preview, you will notice this is what our letter now looks like. There is my block and here's my greeting line. Now we need to insert some merge fields. You'll remember that we had a list of data that included feels like Bus Street, Bus City, and they had spaces in them. You will notice that Microsoft Word has replaced any space in a field name with an underscore.
So in our letter, there's a place where we say Thank you for agreeing to take a leadership role in our next meeting, your name here. So we are going to delete that with its highlighting, and we're going to insert the field that is called First, and notice with preview still on, it shows Meredith but if I click on Preview Results, we will see our field name. This last piece, we want to make it even easier for out-of-state team members to participate, we're going to handle later. We don't yet have all of the information that we need to have to be able to handle this type of information, which is either inserted are not inserted based on a condition. But we have inserted all of the other fields that we need to insert, using the Address Block, Greeting Line, and Insert Merge Field lists here in Microsoft Word.
Finally, if you want to make sure that you can actually spot those fields, you can turn on Highlight Merge Fields, which rather than using the yellow we used uses a little gray here but still makes it easy to be able to look at your letter and check this out. We could have created these address blocks either way by simply entering a first name, a last name, a company name and so on. all of the fields that we need are here. However, it's much easier to use the Address Block and the Greeting Line built in parts here in the Write & Insert Fields group.
They give you a big jump on creating a simple merge letter. So use the Address Block and Greeting Line to start your letter and use Insert Merge Fields within the body of your letter to quickly create your merge letter here in Word 2007.
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