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Personalizing a form letter or printing labels has always been a tedious and time-consuming jobuntil word processing came along. With the help of Word, you can quickly produce all those letters or labels. In this section, you'll learn what a mail merge is and master the basics.
Sometimes you want to mail a document to multiple recipients with customized content for each one. This process is called performing a mail merge , and you need to understand it to pass the exam.
Understand the term mail merge and the concept of merging a data source with a main document such as a letter or a label document.
A mail merge is the process of merging two documents into a new document. You start with two documents, known as the main document and the data source document . The main document is usually a form letter or something similar. The data source contains the data you need to personalize each letter, such as names , addresses, and other information pertinent to the recipient of the finished document.
You might be wondering how the word processor knows just where to insert the pieces of information in the data source document. You insert fields into the main documentfields that correspond to the data fields in the data source document. For instance, a data source document might contain names and addresses for each customer you're trying to contact with updated information on their account. The document would contain a name field, an address field, a city field, a state field, and so on. The main document would consist of the main body of the letter in which you disperse field codes for the name field, the address field, and so on. When you merge the two documents, Word fills in those fields with one customer's information and then starts a new letter and fills in those fields with the next customer's information, and so on. In the end, you have one document that contains all the letters. You can save the document or print all those letters right then.
It's a three-step process:
Open, prepare a main document for a mail merge by inserting data fields.
It doesn't really matter whether you create the main document or the data source document first. However, you might find it best to start with the main document. That way, you know exactly what data you need to store in the data source document.
Creating the main document is similar to creating any other document. You enter the text, images, and charts and format it just as you would any other document. The difference is that you specify field codes within the body of the document, like the one shown in Figure 4.31. Word refers to these field codes as merge fields .
Using Figure 4.31 as a guide, enter the document's text. (You'll enter the merge fields later.) Then, choose Mail Merge from the Tools menu to launch the Mail Merge Helper. Click Create under Main Document and then click Form Letters. Click Active Window because you're creating the main document from scratch.
Open, prepare a mailing list, other data file, for use in a mail merge.
The next step is to prepare the data source document (mailing list). This document will contain the unique data that personalizes each letter. We show you how to create the actual data source file, but you might not have to go to all this work if your data is already stored somewhere else. For instance, if the data is in an Access database, you could merge the Access table with the main document.
Return to the Mail Merge Helper dialog box to create a new data source document, as shown in Figure 4.32:
If you have an existing data source containing the information that you want to merge, you can skip the above steps to create a data source. Instead, click the Get Data button and select the Open Data Source choice. This will allow you to select from among a variety of data sources, such as a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, or an Access database. Word will prompt you to supply the merge data from the selected data source.
Now you're ready to add those merge fields into the main document:
Merge a mailing list with a letter, label document.
Now that you have a main document and a data source document, you're ready to merge the two. Click Merge on the Mail Merge toolbar. At this point, you must decide whether to send the merged letters directly to the printer or save them. For this exercise, choose New Document and click Merge.
The finished document contains three pages, one page for each letter. (This will vary depending on your main document.) The thing to remember is that the merged document contains all the letters: Figure 4.35 shows the first. The process doesn't create a separate document for each letter. You can print the merged document now or close it and print it later.
Creating mailing labels using the mail merge feature is almost identical to creating form letters. The major difference is that in the first step, when you click the Create button, you should choose Mailing Labels instead of Form Letters. Then click the Setup button to set the size of the mailing labels to print.
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