There are three files used in mail merge: your Word main document, a data source and, optionally, the merged document. To start creating a letter for use in mail merge, identify the static content that will be the same for each letter, and the dynamic content such as name, address, and salutation that will be different for each letter. Dynamic content is retrieved from a data source.
- [Instructor] Mail merge requires two files. The first is what is called a primary document, in this case a letter, it will always be created in Word. In this example, we're then going to merge this letter, that contains both static information and placeholders for dynamic information, with a datasource. This could be FileMaker Pro data, data in a text file, data in a table. In this case, it's data that comes to us from a table in Microsoft Excel. And when we combine or merge these two things together, these two different types of files, what we'll get is a document that contains individualized letters for each of the people who's data we use in the mail merge.
We start with one letter and we get a series of personalized letters. Here's how this normally works. I don't always start by saying, "I think I'll create a mail merge letter." Often what I'm doing is I'm using a letter and repurposing it. I'm going in and deleting Michelle Booker's information and adding in Nehru Bowers, and then replacing Nehru's information with Pearl Davenport's. And at some point, I actually need to stop and consider... is this the best way to be doing this? If I'm only ever going to use this particular letter to send to these three people, then perhaps this is just fine.
But if this is a letter that I might end up using every quarter or once a year, even though I'm sending it to three or four people, that will add up. If I want to send it to 100 people, Overtype or copy and paste is not the best way to do this. What I'd like to do then is start with a letter that I already have and rebuild it as a mail merge document that will be useful both now and in the future. Let's switch over to Microsoft Word. If you have access to the exercise files for this course, you'll find in the Chapter 01 folder, this document which is called Individual Letter.
If not, just open any letter that you have that you might like to turn into a mail merge document in Microsoft Word for Mac. The first thing I need to do is identify the information that will be different in each letter. What remains then will be the static information that is the same in every single letter. I'm going to just highlight these... I don't need to this, but I'm doing it as a demonstration. And I find actually that it's often helpful if I'm working on a complex letter to actually highlight the items that I will need to replace with placeholders first.
If I'm sending a letter to Lilah, we should use her address, but when I'm sending it Michelle, we shouldn't use Lilah's address, so we'll be replacing that. We will also be replacing the greeting line. And down here in the text, there's a personalization... We welcome you to share the enclosed information with your clients, Lilah. And there's really nothing worse than missing this one and then people go "Oh, that was just a mail merge," because it's a clue if you don't have the right names all the way through. I want to make sure that these three text blocks change in every single letter.
And then the rest of the letter, in this case, is the same. I only have a few elements that I need to modify. Now that we know what text we need to replace with mail merge fields, we are ready to start a mail merge. Let's go to Mailings, Start Mail Merge. And notice that what we have right now is a normal Word document, but I want to have a letter. Notice that the next step, Select Recipients, has opened up. Letters tend to be the bread and butter of mail merge for many of us.
And it doesn't really look like we've changed anything, but we have. If we go back to Start Mail Merge, notice that now this is mail merge letter. It is no longer a normal Word document. If I wanted to change my mind right now, the way I would do that would be to choose Normal Word Document again, but I'm not going to do that. I'm happy with this being a mail merge document. And I'm going to get rid of our highlighting, because we won't want that in our finished letter. And I'm going to save this document with a new name.
It's currently called Individual Letter, but this is a mail merge letter, so I usually put something about merge, and the name of the document to make sure I keep track of that. So I'm going to name this document Merge - Brochure Letter, and save it. Now that we've identified our variable text, and therefore our constant text, and have saved this document as a primary mail merge document, we're ready to move on to the next step, which we'll do in the next movie.
Gini von Courter takes a deep dive into mail merge, showing how to efficiently create personalized letters, envelopes, labels, and even email messages. She explains how to connect to data sources in Excel, create new data sources, and add attachments to merged email messages. Plus, she covers how to troubleshoot mail merge issues, use rules like If…Then…Else for advanced mail merges, and more.
- Selecting recipients from Outlook and Apple contacts
- Selecting recipients from FileMaker Pro data
- Mail merging data from an Excel spreadsheet
- Filtering recipients
- Inserting merge fields
- Sending merged email
- Troubleshooting mail merged letters
- Creating personalized email messages
- Creating envelopes, labels, and directories
- Using rules for customized merges