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Word 2007: Mail Merge in Depth
Illustration by Neil Webb

Troubleshooting


From:

Word 2007: Mail Merge in Depth

with Gini Courter

Video: Troubleshooting

From the human's point of view, Word mail merge is relatively straightforward. However, under the hood, mail merge is relatively complex, with Word requesting and using data files from other applications to create a new merged Word document. In this session, we'll look at fixes for some of the more common issues that arise during the Word mail merge. If the same error appears in every single merged document then the error is usually in the primary Word document here rather than in the data source.

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Word 2007: Mail Merge in Depth
1h 37m Intermediate Sep 10, 2010

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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.

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

Troubleshooting

From the human's point of view, Word mail merge is relatively straightforward. However, under the hood, mail merge is relatively complex, with Word requesting and using data files from other applications to create a new merged Word document. In this session, we'll look at fixes for some of the more common issues that arise during the Word mail merge. If the same error appears in every single merged document then the error is usually in the primary Word document here rather than in the data source.

So, to fix that error after you've merged view to open and correct this primary document. For example, we have some spelling errors here in the primary document. Those errors will be in every single letter as we go through this document. If we preview our Results you'll notice that we have a spelling error here, we have a spelling error here and here and that's because it's right here in the primary document. So, one of the first things we can do is we can use Spelling & Grammar to actually go through and fix issues of spelling in our document so that they're not perpetuated.

When you're proofing, pay real close attention to the punctuation, particularly the punctuation that precedes or immediately follows a field. It's really easy for example to omit punctuation after this field name because you're so busy putting the field name in that you either forget to punctuate as you're typing the letter, or you're not totally attentive to what you've selected when you replace existing text, the constant text that would've been here in the last letter, with the field name. As you've noticed, I've switched to Preview mode in order to proof punctuation because it's far easier to see here than it is to see what I'm showing the field codes, when Preview is turned off.

See, how easy it would be to overlook a period here or elsewhere. If your data source contains formatting that formatting maybe included along with the data. You'll notice that we have different fonts that appear here in this document. Although the problem maybe coming from the data source, the data source is in Arial for example here, we're still going to fix that by formatting the field codes ,because if we've formatted the field codes here in Microsoft Word, that formatting will apply.

We want to use the same font throughout this letter so I'm simply going to select all the text using Ctrl+A or triple-clicking in the document. Then we'll go back to the Home tab and you can tell we don't have one constant font or its name would be here. So, we're just going to go and change it all to Calibri and we are going to make sure that it's all the same size. Now, regardless of the formatting that's used in our data source, we've applied a consistent formatting here in our primary merged document.

If on the other hand you have an error that only appears in a few documents... If we go back to the Mailings tab and you have an error that appears in for example 5 of the 50 documents or 2 of the 150 documents, then it's worth determining what's different about those particular documents. You don't solve that problem here. We would solve that problem back in our original data source. So, you can click Edit Recipient List and go look and see what data it is we are actually missing. If we have one record for example that doesn't have a state name, if it's only one or two or five, if it's not all of them, then you're going to look for that error here.

It's easy to have a data source where someone has deleted a field and then it won't show up in your mail merge. You know for example in some of these records but not all of them we don't have a company name because there isn't a company name. In that case, we are not going to see a company name listed here. That's the kind of error that only appears in some of the documents. You've completed your mail merge now and you're all done with it. You've done all the troubleshooting, you've gone back through and finished and merged the document, and printed them.

Occasionally, you may want to take this document and say I want to keep this for the future but I no longer want to tie it to a data source. I want to make sure that when I open this document it's not tying up my Microsoft Excel worksheet that I used or my Outlook address book. So, I want to return this to being a not merged document. In order to do that when you're all done, go to Start Mail Merge and choose Normal Word Document. When you do that what happens is you're no longer in merge. All the tools get turned off.

Whatever particular record we were looking at, at that time, is inserted into the document so this is now a static non-merged document. If we wanted to make it a merge document again we go back Start Mail Merge > Letters. We would once again need to connect to a data source that was just disconnected and insert fields all over again. Well, you understand the difference between your Word primary document and the variable data from your data source and how those two are connected, it's relatively easy to troubleshoot the majority of the issues that will arise when you're completing a simple mail merge.

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