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Mail Merge

Friday, January 12th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Uncategorized

Can you please explain to us what mail merge is?

That is an excellent question and you’re actually not the only one who has asked me that in a matter of a couple weeks. To be honest with you all, I didn’t know much about it either, so I figured it would be a good idea to check into it, for all of our sakes! So, I did just that and the below tip is everything I found out.

Nowadays, everyone goes the e-mail route, don’t they? Whenever you want to send something to a friend or a relative, you compose a quick e-mail and shoot it off to its designated recipient. It’s fast and easy and you don’t have to worry much about anything else. As soon as you send the e-mail, you can always be about 99.9 percent sure that it will arrive to the right person successfully.

I could probably go on for hours about the benefits of e-mail and while that’s all good and well, what about regular mail? Why don’t we hardly ever use that anymore? Well, it’s slower and there’s always the possible chance that it will get lost in the shuffle. Although that’s true, I bet there are some of you out there who still prefer to use the good ol’ regular mail. Am I right? Well, if you are one of them, I have something very cool for you today and it has nothing to do with e-mail. Instead, welcome to the world of mail merge!

Mail merge is a feature that is supported by several word processing programs that you can use to create form letters. These letters can then be sent using the regular mail (or snail mail, as you might know it) method. One of the main word processors that has the mail merge option is MS Word. Now, I know this isn’t an MS Office tip, but you’re going to get a little lesson on Word today, in regards to the mail merge. Hope you don’t mind!

First, to do a mail merge, you must first set up a selection of data and place it in its own file. This data is usually like an address book that you have made for yourself on your computer. It should contain all of the names and addresses of your friends, relatives, etc. Chances are, you already have an address book on your computer, but if you don’t, go ahead and create one. Once you have that set up (in its own separate file), you can then write a common letter that you would like to send to different people. Place this in its own separate file as well. You can save both of these files in the same folder (My Documents, for example), but make sure you give them both a different file name, so they’re each their own thing.

Now, when you’re writing your letter, you need to insert certain blank areas, since the letter isn’t going to the same person several times. For example, your letter may look something like this:




Of course then, what you want to say will be in there as well, but this is just for an example. By leaving those areas blank, the mail merge can then go to work. The word processor you’re using will automatically fill those areas in by the information you have in your address book. Your letter file will take the information from your other file and fill in the empty spaces. That’s what a mail merge is all about. It’s meant to save you a lot of time!

Now, you do need to keep in mind that different word processors will act differently when you’re using the mail merge feature. Some will support a lot more than others, so you just have to keep an eye out for that. One of the most popular processors to use for this is MS Word though and I’m guessing most of you have that on your computer already, so it would be a good one to start out with.

If you want to do a mail merge with Word, open up a new document to begin. Make sure you have your two files all set and ready to go. Once you do, go to Tools, Mail Merge. You can then choose Document Type to pick which type of data you have. You can choose from Form Letter (which is what we went over in this tip), Mailing Labels, Envelopes or Catalog. You’re able to do a mail merge with all of those options.

Once you choose yours, click OK. The next screen will ask you if you want to merge your address book or if you want to merge data from another file. Choose the one you want and click on its icon. (In this tip, we went over using the address book). Just follow the directions from there and the rest should take care of itself. There are other options you can choose to narrow your recipients down a little as well, like Select Names and Filter and Sort. Just go back to the Tools menu and click on Mail Merge to do that.

The mail merge feature is just something a little different to help you save some time and energy when you want to mail out some letters. You can’t complain about that, now can you?!

~ Erin

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