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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.
When you create a new mail merge letter, eventually you have to close it, so you'll want to reopen it again, and when you do, you're going to be prompted. And I'd like to show you the prompts you're going to see so that you understand them. You don't need to try to follow along with this; just watch and I'll try to go through it fairly quickly, so that you can see how this works. Whether I double-click to open a file in a folder or I go to Word backstage and choose to open a folder, when I open a mail merge letter, as soon as Word starts to open it, the letter says, hey! wait a second; I'm connected to a data source somewhere else.
And so Word then will prompt you to say, do you know that this letter intends to go grab some information from a data source? It says, opening this letter will run the following SQL command, and it shows you a SQL Select statement. Don't worry about that. Basically, what it's saying is it's going to a database. Now if you've already set up a data source and connected to it, even if you haven't added a single merge field to your letter, you're going to see this. If you click Show Help, it will actually give you some help written in user- understandable English, which is a nice thing, but here is the bottom line.
If you want to keep the connection to the database, you need to choose Yes. If you choose No, what will happen is the information that was is in the database, in the very first record, will be placed into your letter, and the connection then will be broken. So in other words, I want this to keep being a merged letter, is Yes. Never- mind that this is a merge letter, and I never want to use it that way again, would be No. So if we choose Yes, the letter just opens. Let's do this again, and this time let's choose No. And when I choose No, it looks exactly the same; however, when I go to Mailings here, you'll notice that I really need to start selecting recipients again.
This isn't a merged letter any longer. It's a subtle difference, and if you know where you merge data source is, it's probably not even that big of a deal. But if you don't, or if you've done a lot of work putting merged fields into this letter, as we'll be doing in the next few videos, you won't want to throw that work away. If you make a mistake here, you can always just close and hope that the next time you open it up, you'll be prompted again. I want to show you another possibility. This is a different merged letter that I've set up, and when I open it up it says, opening this document will run the following SQL command.
This letter is attached to some data in a data source called Vendor Apps. I don't know if it's a SQL data source, Excel, Access; it doesn't really matter. I'm going to say Yes, and oh, my gosh! Here is an error. Now when you see this error, what you can know immediately is that the data source that this letter is connected to can't be found or is locked. So if it's a data source that is an Excel spreadsheet, it's possible somebody else has that spreadsheet open for editing. If the data source is the SQL database that you've connected to, well, then the odds are pretty good that something has changed about the database. But the easiest way that this happens, actually, is that the database has moved, or that you have moved the letter relative to the database.
For example, let's say that you have an Excel spreadsheet and a letter in the same folder. You decide that you're going to share that letter with other people, so you move it to a network share, while the letter, all along, has said, just go out in the same folder and grab your data source. Now that it's sitting up on the network share without the data source, it's still trying to look in the same folder. So what I can do, if I have control of this data source or if I can find it, is I can click OK, and this Data Link Properties dialog box opens. Now, this is just impossible to work with. Don't worry about it.
Let's go ahead and just click OK, and it's going to throw the same error again. Don't let that bother you. Click OK again, and it will give you a better easier-to-use dialog box that let's you just click and browse and find your data source, rather than entering the bunch of connection information or anything else. I want to show you this again, just so you've seen it. We're going to go ahead, and we're going to open up this letter, again. Say Yes, because we want to keep it as a merged letter, throw the error, tell it OK, tell it OK, the error appears again, and now you can click the Find Data Source button and locate your data source - a lot easier to do, than trying to enter a lot of complex information.
Once you've found your data source and opened it, your letter will be fine. If you can't find the data source at this time, then simply close the dialog, say OK, and close the letter. Go do whatever research is necessary to locate that data source and determine that you can connect to it, before you open the letter again, so you're ready to go. That's what you need to know to open an existing mail merge letter in Word 2010.
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