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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 our primary letter with merge fields in it. We have our data source, but it's not quite yet time to merge. First we're going use Word's Preview Results features to see how a sample of the individual letters will look if we completed the merge. We started out with one letter and about 80 data records. Once we put those two together, we are going to have 80 individual one-page letters. The time to proof this letter is now. There's nothing like a mistake that's repeated in every single one of these merge letters.
So first we're going to click the Preview Results button in the Preview Results group, and you'll notice that the data from the very first record is filled in here, and we can use the familiar First, Last record buttons in order to move through the records, and determine if they look good. You will notice for example that we don't have a company for Ross Atkins, and yet that record looks great as we go along. Another thing we can do is we can actually look for a letter to one particular person, and check that one out if we're concerned about it.
So I can say I'd like to look for Tabitha's record, either by searching in all fields or by searching in a particular field, and it will take us to the record for Tabitha Castro. That record looks great. Sort of a bulk analysis is supported when we use the Auto Check for Errors feature. Auto Check for Errors gives us three different possibilities. One possibility is to go through the merge to simulate it and to report any errors that occurs. So if I have 50 records, 100 records, 200 records, I can just say to Word, "go ahead and merge and tell me what you get." So I am going to click OK and it goes through the simulation and it says it didn't find any errors.
That was really, really fast. However, if I have a large database for example, thousands of records in SQL Server and Access database then this simulation which actually goes through only a small sample of records might not accurately identify errors that occur if they were in my data. So what I can do then, my second option, is to say complete the merge. If you find any errors, pause and tell me about them, actually show me the letter that has the error in it, or finally go ahead and complete the whole merge.
merge all of the documents and then report errors if you find any in a separate document and present it to me. So again, the second and third choices are useful when you actually want the entire merge to be completed and then provided to you. So I'm going to complete the merge without pausing. Again, fewer than a hundred records, and I can look at the lower left -hand corner of the screen and actually notice Word completing this merge page by page, and it will pick up speed as it goes along and adds one more record.
Remember I had about 80 records and you'll notice that I'm getting a lot more than 80 pages and yet I only have a one page letter that I am using. We'll talk about that in just a moment. I can scroll through and notice that any of my pages look good. If I go all the way out to the end, one of the things I'll find is lots of records that are addressed to Dear Sir or Madam. Earlier we actually said that if a value in the record was blank, if it had no name, to go ahead and place Dear Sir or Madam, and you will notice also where we would expect a person's name to appear here, there is nothing.
In our data source, we actually included a number of extra rows in Microsoft Excel, and that was to build in capacity for us to add more records later to that Excel merge. We'll find out how to get rid of these extra rows that we really don't want to merge later on in this title. But for right now, we could simply choose not to print those records when we complete the merge later on. So our merge is all set. It has no errors and we've been able to check all of that without wasting a single sheet of paper.
You may have used other older word processing programs that really made it hard to preview your results, or made it difficult to check for errors before merging, but here in Word 2010, we have a number of different tools that allow us to preview results right down to actually completing a merge and doing everything but printing it. So I'm going to close this sample merge that we did, and we're very happy with this document now, so we are actually going to save this merged letter again, because we're ready to merge.
I'm going to go to File > Save As, I'm going to save this as our Ready to Merge Vendor Letter, and now we're ready to complete our mail merge.
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