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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.
Of the hundreds of thousands of mail merges completed in offices each day, the vast majority use name and address information about people. The kind of data we normally store in Microsoft Outlook. Let's see how easy it is to use our Outlook Contacts as the data source for our mail merge. If you don't use Microsoft Outlook, if you use some other contact management system, you might want to skip this movie entirely, because this is really all about Outlook. So we have our primary letter up in front of us and we can see that we're going to be picking up some name information and some address information specifically.
To tell Microsoft Word that we want to get that information from Outlook, we're going to choose Select Recipients from the Start Mail Merge group on the Mailings tab and then choose Select from Outlook Contacts. Microsoft Word then will go to Microsoft Outlook and say, "what you got in terms of content folders?" Notice that it says I have a set of contacts here and that there are 442 of them. Before we go any further I'd actually like to go to Outlook and show you what's happening at the other end.
In Microsoft Outlook I actually have two Contacts folders. One is my primary Contacts folder and another is a Contacts folder that's specialized. It contains only vendors. You'll notice, however, that this did not show up as a potential mail merge data source and you might wonder why? If we right-click our Contacts folders, you'll find that there's a property of a contact folder that's actually called Outlook Address Book. If I click the Outlook Address Book, Contacts is always shown as an email Address Book.
So when Word asks, "what kind of list do you have here in Contacts?" Microsoft Outlook replies, "I have a contacts folder that can be used as an address book by Mail Merge." If I go take a look at the vendor's folder, right-click and check its properties, you'll notice that this was never turned on as an email Address Book. So we're going to click that checkbox and say OK, and now that vendor's list will also show up for Word mail merge. So if we go back to Word, and choose again Select Recipients, Select from Outlook Contacts, now when I ask I see two different Contacts folders that could be used in my mail merge.
and those Contacts folders are very easy to set up. Let's return to Outlook once more before we select our Contacts List. You might have a set of contacts that you really want to use in a mail merge, but you don't want to co-mingle with your vendors or your regular contacts. For example, a list of people that you might send a promotion to once, or a holiday list for holiday cards. You don't contact these folks all the way around the year, so they don't belong in Contacts and they're really not vendors.
How could I create a temporary folder, for example, for people who applied for a particular position that I need to send a mail merge letter about? In order to create a new folder, simply right-click on your mailbox, choose New Folder, and I want to be able to put all this applicant information, names and addresses, into one folder. Here is the choice that you'll usually miss when you create a new folder, is to choose what type it is. Applicants or Contact Items? I say OK, and here's my new Applicants Folder.
Even though there's no one in it yet, I can make sure in its properties that it set up as an Outlook Address Book and say OK. Now when we return to Microsoft Word and say I'd like to select for my Outlook Contacts. Outlook, what do you have? You'll find that Outlook says I have three different lists. There's Contacts, Vendors and a New Applicants list that has nobody in it, so you probably won't want to use it. If you're an Outlook power user you probably have all of the data that you need to use Outlook as your data source for mail merged letters and labels.
If on the other hand you use Outlook primarily for email but not for contacts, simply maintaining your contacts in Outlook going forward will give you a great head start on mail merge in Word.
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