Use mail merge to personalize letters

Mail merge makes it easier to customize letters, certificates, or other documents you’re going to print for a lot of different people. It’s a five-step process, and you can save time by starting with good data and paying extra attention to the details.

Let’s walk through each of the steps for creating and printing a mail merge document. If you want to run an email merge, see Using Word for an email merge. To make labels using mail merge, see Create labels with mail merge.

1. Set up your mailing list

The key to mail merge: Check your data before you start. Word pulls data from the list into your document. The better the data, the better your results.

If your mailing list is in an Excel spreadsheet, make sure the column for ZIP or postal codes is formatted as text so you don’t lose any zeroes. For more information, see Format mail merge numbers, dates, and other values.

If you want to use your Outlook Contacts, make sure Outlook is your default email program. For more information, see Make Outlook the default program for email, contacts, and calendar.

If you don’t have a list, you’ll get a chance to make a list in Word during the mail merge. Get ready by pulling together all your address lists before you start. (After you type a list in Word, you can save it with the document and use it the next time you send letters.)

2. Create your document

Click Mailings > Start Mail Merge > Letters.

Letters option on the Start Mail Merge menu

3. Connect to your mailing list

On the Mailings tab, click Select Recipients and click the option that matches your list. If your mailing list is in an Excel spreadsheet or an Access database, click Use an Existing List.

If you don’t have a list yet, choose Type a New List. For more information, see Set up a mail merge list with Word or Outlook.

Type a New List command

If you’re sending your letter to everyone on your list, skip ahead to step 4. If you’re contacting only some of the people on your list—for example, people who live within 20 miles of your event—choose which people you want to include.

  1. Click Edit Recipient List.

    Edit Recipient List command

  2. Check the names of the people you want to send your letter to.

    Select rows by checking the check box

    You can also sort or filter the list to make finding names and addresses easier.

4. Add the personalized content

First, type the information you want to send to everyone. For example, if you’re letting people know about an upcoming event, type the event’s name, date, time, and location. That information is the same for everyone.

Next, add the part of the letter that’s different for each person who receives it—for example, their name and address.

The fastest way to do this is to add an Address Block field and a Greeting Line field.

  1. Click where you want to add the person’s address, and then click Address Block.

    Insert Address Block merge field

  2. Choose how you want the name to appear.

    Address block options

    Tip:  To be sure Word finds the names and addresses in your list, click Match Fields. Check that the fields you want appear in the list. If a field you want says Not Matched, click the drop-down list for that field and then click the column name that matches that column in your list.

  3. Click where you want to greet the person, and click Greeting Line.

    Greeting Line mail merge field button

  4. Choose the name style you want to use, and set other options.

    To add a customized greeting or other information from your mailing list, add mail merge fields one at a time.

5. Print the letters

  1. Click Preview Results, and then click the arrows to make sure the merged fields look right.

    Preview Results group

  2. Click Finish & Merge > Print Documents.

    Finish and Merge options

Save your mail merge document for next time

When you save the mail merge document, it stays connected to your mailing list. To use the mail merge document again, open it and click Yes when Word prompts you to keep that connection. Then, if you want to change which people or items you include in the merge, click Edit Recipient List to sort, filter, and select them. For more information about sorting and filtering a mailing list, see Sort and filter the data for a mail merge.

Format mail merge fields

To change the font, size, or spacing of the merged content, select the field and make the changes you want.

  1. Click Preview Results to switch from the merged results back to the mail merge field.

    Preview Results group

  2. Select the whole field, including the marks at each end.

    Selected Address Block field

  3. Click Home and choose the font and font size you want.

    Font group on the Home tab

  4. Click Page Layout (Word 2013) or Layout (Word 2016) and choose the paragraph spacing you want. For example, Word treats each line in an Address Block as a paragraph, so you might want to reduce the spacing between paragraphs in that field.

    Paragraph Spacing

    The formatting changes you make will appear in each merged document.

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