Use mail merge to create a form email message

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When you want to send personalized email to recipients in your address list, you can use mail merge to create the email messages. Each message has the same kind of information, yet the content of each message is unique. For example, in email to your customers, each message can be personalized to address each customer by name. The unique information in each message comes from entries in a data source, which is often an Excel sheet.

Furthermore, with mail merge, each email message is a separate mailing where each recipient is the sole recipient of each message. This is unlike broadcasting an email message to a group of recipients or hiding recipients on the blind carbon copy (Bcc) line of the message.

The following procedures show you how to create a form email message from a Word document, using an Excel sheet as the data source.

Do any of the following:

Step 1: Create a data source in an Excel sheet

Each column in your Excel sheet should have a column label, which indicates a category of information. For example, your column labels might be "email address," "name," "street address," "city," "state," and "postal code." Make sure that the first row of cells, called the header record, contains the column label names. Each subsequent row contains one record, such as the name and address of a person.

Important: Make sure that the data is in list format. Each column of data must have a label in the first row. There must not be any blank rows or columns in the list.

  1. Open Excel.

  2. In the first row of the sheet, type the column labels for your recipients. For example, in the first column, type Email address; in the second column, type First name; in the third column, type Last name; and so on.

    Important: The first column must contain the email addresses of your recipients.

  3. In the second and subsequent rows, type the name and email address information for your recipients.

  4. Click Save.

  5. Type a name for the workbook. Remember where in the notebook the sheet resides; you will need to know the location later.

  6. Save and close the workbook.

    If you do not close the Excel workbook that contains your list, or if you reopen it before you finish the mail merge, you cannot complete the merge.

    Tip: To make an Excel sheet of your Outlook Address Book, export the contacts to a tab-delimited text file, and then open the text file in Excel. For more information, see Export or manually archive Outlook items.

Step 2: Create a main document in Word

  1. Open Word.

  2. Make sure that you have a new blank document open.

  3. Add the information that you want to include in your email message to the new Word document.

  4. On the Tools menu, click Mail Merge Manager.

  5. Under 1. Select Document Type, click Create New, and then click Form Letter.

Step 3: Associate the data source with the main document

  1. In the Mail Merge Manager, under 2. Select Recipients List, click Get List, and then click Open Data Source.

  2. Select the workbook that you created in step 1, and then click OK.

    If a message prompts you to open the workbook with a workbook text converter, click OK.

  3. Click the arrow next to Open Document in Workbook, and then select the sheet that contains the addresses that you created in step 1.

  4. Make sure that Entire Worksheet appears in the Cell Range box, and then click OK.

    Notice that under 3. Insert Placeholders, an entry for each column label in your data source appears.

Step 4: Insert placeholders into the main document

Placeholders determine where the Mail Merge Manager will merge information from your data source into the main document. Each column label in your data source is available as a placeholder.

  1. In the Mail Merge Manager, under 3. Insert Placeholders, click Contacts.

  2. Drag each placeholder to the appropriate location in the main document.

    Notice that each placeholder is enclosed within chevron signs (for example, <<FirstName>>) so that you can distinguish the placeholders from regular text. These chevrons do not appear in the merged document.

    Tip: To move a placeholder within the main document, select it, and then drag it where you want. To remove a placeholder from the main document, select it, and then press DELETE.

Step 5: Filter and sort recipients (optional)

You can use the Mail Merge Manager to send email messages to a smaller group of recipients, such as those who live in a specific city or postal code. You do this by choosing filtering criteria for the recipients that you want.

  1. In the Mail Merge Manager, under 4. Filter Recipients, click Options.

  2. Configure the filters that you want, and then click OK.

    You can include up to six filtering criteria.

  3. To sort filtered records (for example, alphabetically by last name), click Options under 4. Filter Recipients, and then click the Sort Records tab.

Step 6: Preview the email message (optional)

Before you complete the mail merge, you can preview your letters to make sure that they look the way that you expect them to.

  1. In the Mail Merge Manager, under 5. Preview Results, click View Merged Data  View Merged Data button .

    Notice that the information for the first data source record replaces the placeholders in the main document.

  2. Click Next Record.

    Notice that the information for the next record appears in the main document.

    Tip: To show the placeholders again, click View Merged Data.

Step 7: Complete the mail merge and send the email messages

  1. In the Mail Merge Manager, under 6. Complete Merge, click Generate email messages.

  2. In the Subject field, type the text that you want your recipients to see in the subject line of the email message.

  3. Click Mail Merge to Outbox.

    Note: If the Generate email messages option is unavailable, click Preferences in Outlook, click General, and then, under Default Application, click Make Default.

See also

Create a data source for a mail merge

Create and print mailing labels by using Mail Merge

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