FlightSchool#4 (1)
Date: 12/12/2015 | By: Les Gutteridge

Using Mail Merge in Microsoft Word will save you time and make your business more efficient. It’s simple to use – read on to find out how…

For a more visual run through of the process click here to listen to Les’s webinar.


BizSmart Select Member Les Gutteridge of business systems company 101 System Works is an advocate of using Microsoft systems to make your business systems and processes much more efficient. We spoke to him about using Mail Merge in Microsoft Word to speed up the sending out of standard letters or emails.


Mail Merge is used when sending out something where the same text needs to go out to several people (possibly in very large numbers) but the address and “Dear…” salutation needs to be different. It can also be used for address labels, envelopes, and directory lists.


Here’s Les’s explanation of how to use Mail Merge:


Mail Merge is two documents working in tandem:

The main document contains static text and merge fields or “hotspots” for variable data (e.g. standard letters, labels). The other document is the recipient list, also known as the data source. This is a separate Word, Excel or Access file supplying the variable data. It is easier to set up the recipient list in advance as a table in Excel, Word or Access – I prefer an Excel list.

You then connect this to the Main document via the Mail Merge Wizard.


Creating the Data Source List

  1. Decide on the field (column) headings you need and type them into row one in a new Excel spreadsheet. Format the spreadsheet to suit.
  1. Complete each subsequent row with one recipient’s details
  2. Save the file with a suitable name and in a folder you can find again easily then close Excel.


Working out how the main document will look

  1. Until you’re confident with mail merge, I suggest you type up the main document in full, print it and use a highlighter to identify the variable parts of the document.
  2. Later, replace the marked areas one at a time with the appropriate Mail Merge Field


Using the Mail Merge Wizard

Firstly, click the Mailings Tab, Start Mail Merge, then use the Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard. You can navigate forwards/back through the following six steps:

  1. Selecting the type of main document
  • The default is Letters…
  • Click Next… to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane)
  1. Starting the main document
  • The default is Use the current document…
  • Click Next… to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane)
  1. Selecting the Recipient List (Data Source)
  • The default is Use an Existing List…
  • Click Browse to find and connect to it
  • Click Next… to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane)
  1. Writing the main document
  • Using the earlier advice, position the cursor at each variable point then delete unwanted information
  • Click the Insert Merge Field button on the Mailings Tab and click the field needed in the field name list
  • Complete the main document like this – use natural spacing, “Enters” and punctuation as needed
  • Click Next… to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane)
  1. Previewing the main document with merged data
  • Here the emphasis is on Previewing, not Printing
  • This step is designed to show how the document will look with each recipient’s data in turn
  • Use the navigators on the Mailings Tab or on the Mail Merge Wizard to move between each letter
  • Click Next… to continue (bottom of Wizard Pane)
  1. Printing or merging to a new document
  • Only do the latter if really necessary– definitely DO NOT save the merged document, just the main document and data source
  • To complete the Mail Merge, click the Mailings tab, Finish and Merge, then click Edit Individual Documents (do not save it though – this is just for checking). Then print documents or send email messages as required.

That takes you through the whole process. For a more visual run through of the process click here to listen to Les’s webinar.


BizSmart helps business owners of small and medium sized businesses to create value and scale their businesses through sound practical business support by providing- Insight, Clarity and business support with a real determination to help you succeed.  You can access blogs like this and more besides through our free SmartRoom service here