How to Mail Merge in Microsoft Word

800534 How to Mail Merge in Microsoft Word

Mail merge is an extremely useful feature in Microsoft Word that allows you to easily create multiple documents, like letters or emails, that have identical formats and layouts but contain unique information per recipient pulled from a data source like an Excel spreadsheet or Access database.

For example, you can use mail merge to easily send out customized form letters to hundreds of customers or contacts without having to manually recreate each one.

When Should You Use Mail Merge?

Here are some examples of when mail merge comes in handy:

  • Sending out mass customized emails like newsletters or promotions
  • Printing labels or envelopes for mass mailings
  • Creating form letters or other standardized documents for large groups of people

Mail merge saves you tons of time compared to manually changing each document.

So if you need to generate dozens or hundreds of documents with mostly identical text and layouts but some personalized details per person, mail merge will make your life much easier!

Step-by-Step Mail Merge Process

Follow these 7 key steps to run a mail merge in Word:

1. Set Up Your Main Document

First, create a new Word document. This will be your main document that contains the text and layout that will be common across all of your merged documents.

For example, for a letter, it would include the header, greeting, body paragraphs, closing signature, and any other elements that are the same in all letters.

2. Connect Your Data Source

Your data source contains the unique details that will change in each merged document, like names, addresses, dates, etc. Data sources can be:

  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Access databases
  • Another Word document with a data list
  • Outlook

Click the Mailings tab and select your data source. Word will import the columns/fields—make sure you select the correct ones containing the info you want to merge.

3. Insert Merge Fields

Now go back to your main document. Click where you want a recipient’s unique data to appear, then insert merge fields from the Mailings tab.

For example, add a «GreetingLine» field followed by name, address, city, etc. Merge fields act as placeholders for data source entries.

4. Preview Results

In the Preview Results window, browse different data entries to confirm your merge fields are mapped correctly.

5. Complete the Merge

When everything looks right, click Finish & Merge on the Mailings tab and select your desired output:

  • Print merged documents
  • Send merged emails
  • Export merged document to a new file

6. Edit and Save Merged Documents

Review your merged documents for any errors. Make any edits needed then save/send the final merged documents.

7. Save Your Main Document

Finally, save your main document as a Word template (.dotx) to reuse for future related mail merges!

Mail Merge Tips

Here are some handy mail merge tips:

  • Use rules to conditionally include/exclude text or fields
  • Add fill-in fields for data not in your source
  • Merge to labels or envelopes
  • Use page breaks to separate letters
  • Check for errors before finalizing
  • Learn advanced mail merge techniques

Troubleshooting Mail Merge Issues

Some common mail merge problems and how to fix them:

  • Empty fields in output: Double check merge field names match data source columns
  • Duplicates: Toggle “Allow duplicate entries” option off (under Mail Merge Recipients)
  • Unwanted extra pages/entries: Disable “View merged data” (under View Options)
  • Formatting issues: Use formatting switches to style merge fields


As you can see, mail merge is easy to set up once you get the hang of it!

The key is properly preparing your main document, connecting your data source, mapping fields, and previewing before sending out your merged documents.

Mail merge can save you a ridiculous amount of time compared to manually editing hundreds of individual documents or communications.

Hopefully this overview gives you what you need to start using mail merge like a pro in Word. Let me know in the comments if you have any other mail merge questions!

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