Monday, April 23, 2012

Excel and you: Mail merge, by special request!

By special request, today, we are going to look at mail merges.

To start a mail merge, the very first step would be to organize your information.

For example, if you are going to create address labels, you should put all your information in a spreadsheet as follows:

Now, I would assume your spreadsheet would be a bit bigger, but I don’t feel like writing in a bunch of non-existent addresses.

So, you have your addresses all nicely laid out in a spreadsheet, and there is a header row naming all the columns, and you have saved it in a place where you know where it is.

Next step would be to figure out what kind of labels you have(if you are not doing labels, feel free to move on).  They will usually say what brand and style they are on the bottom of the sheet.

Now, we make our way to a new word document.  I use MS Office 2007, and thus have the ribbon.  If you are using a previous version of Office, this probably won’t help you very much, sorry.

Click on the mailing tab, and click start mail merge. Since we are doing address labels in this example, click on that button.  I usually use Avery or Avery equivalent, so I click on Avery US Letter, and click on the appropriate model number.

Now we must select recipients.  We will be using an existing list, that we made and saved, and remember it’s saved location above, so click on that and navigate to your list.  Double click on your saved spreadsheet to use it in your mail merge.

If your saved sheet has multiple tabs, make sure to choose the tab that your information is on.

Now, we add fields!  Click on ‘Insert Merge Fields’ to select the appropriate fields.  You can format using the default data that appears.  REMEMBER: if you don’t put a space, or a comma, the computer can’t read your mind and do it for you, so put them in yourself, unless you want to mail things to JohnDoe.

So this is what your sheet should look like now:

The purple arrows indicate where a space should be, and the red arrow is our next step!

So, now we will click on ‘Update Labels,” and POOF! We have a default document ready for merging!

Now all that is left is clicking finish and merge(I like to use the edit individual documents in case something got borked), and then print!

I hope this has been helpful! 

Do you have additional mail merge tips or uses?  Let me know in the comments!

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