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How to do a mail merge in word

Mail merging is a really helpful tool that allows you to pull variable data from an excel spreadsheet into a Microsoft word document.

Perfect for creating multiple personalised letters, envelopes, emails in seconds.

A real time saver removing the need to repeatedly type out the same details. 


This guide is perfect for beginners or a refresher as it guides you through how to create a mail merge. 

Step by step guide on how to do a mail merge in word from excel

How to prepare your data for word mail merge 

  1. To start you will need your data in Microsoft Excel with clear headers in the first row such as RecipientName, AddressLine1, Postcode etc. These will become your placeholders in your document. Tip: Make sure each of your headers are unique with no spaces and identifiable.


  2. Your data might need some tidying up or sorting if you are exporting it from a CRM system or database.
    You might need to split our First Name and Last Name or Combine them depending on your document.
    It is best to do this prior to mail merging.


  3. Once happy with your data and headers save your data in an easy accessible place.

Example of how to setup your data headings for microsoft word mail merge
How to navigate to mailings tab in Word for mail merging

How to attach your Excel data to your word document 

  1.  Open your letter in Microsoft Word.

  2. Click on mailings tab in the header


  3. Then click one select recipients – Use an Existing List…


  4. Now find and select your saved Excel data from earlier.


  5. A pop up is likely to appear now asking you to select a table. Select the table with your data in most cases there will only be one option unless you have multiple tabs.

  6. On this pop up tick First row of data contains column headers.

  7. Then click okay. It may look like nothing has changed but you now have more options that where greyed earlier and you can Edit Recipient List.

  8. If you do want to Edit your Recipient List you can click on the tab, and then filter out individuals or even by an element of your data such as town or postcode.

Starting a mail merge in ms word by attacting excel data
Selecting your excel data in word mailings sections

How to add variable data fields to your word letter

  1. Highlight your Greeting Line including the comer if you have one, In the mailings tab click on the Greeting Line option found in the Write and Insert Field group.

  2. A pop up will open, and here you can really customise your Greeting line. With options of To / Dear Etc as an opening to how the name appears and an option of what appears if there is no data for the name field. Tip: Use the preview to see if it is matching up correctly. If for any reason, it’s not click on the Match Fields option and correct how Microsoft word has paired your data fields.

  3. Now you should have your Greeting line in place you can delete any placeholder Greeting line text that was there before if needed.

  4. Now find the next snippet of variable data in your letter such as Recipient Address, Name, Appointment time, Meeting Date etc

  5. Highlight where that snippet should appear or on your placeholder text and select Insert Merge Field.

  6. A pop up will appear with your headers from the data, select the appropriate field you need and insert into the letter.

How to populate address fields into your word document

  1. If you are populating an address, you can use the above method or you can use Address Block found in Write and Insert Field group.

  2. With the address block you can preview the samples and have options of including or excluding elements such as recipient name or company address.
    Tip: If the address doesn’t look correct in the preview you can match fields to correct this.

How to preview your mail merged word document

  1. Once you have finished adding your variable data fields to your letter click on the Preview Results option.

  2. Now you can check everything is showing as it should, you may have missed a space between two fields such as First name and Last Name so it’s appearing as JohnSmith instead of John Smith. To rectify this simply amend by putting a space in where it should appear and check it has applied by clicking through the preview data records.

  3. You can also click on check for errors and use one of the options there as an extra measure if you like.

Previewing mail merged word document

How to export your mail merge on word

  1. Once happy with your letter and merge fields click Finish and merge.


  2. You will now have 3 options:​

  • Edit individual documents – this will create an individual editable document per every data record.

  • Print Documents - here you can print direct to a printer or save as a pdf. Please note this is the option you will need in most instances for Hybrid Mail and to save as a pdf from your printer choices.

  • Send email messages – this will open outlook and mail each individual if you have their email address in your data. Tip: It is well worth saving your word document at this point so you can always come back to it, have a reference or use it again with different data.

Exporting your word mail merge letter

Why use Microsoft word mail merge

Mail merge in ms word is a powerful tool that makes compiling multiple documents that have variable data elements quick and easy. Here is a list of common uses of Microsoft word mail merge: 

  • Business letters

  • Batch documents such as invoices, statements, quotes etc

  • Envelopes

  • Labels

  • PostboxNow, Hybrid Mail solutions that allows you to send letters online

  • Compiling emails

What to do with your mail merged letter PDF's

Now you have your expertly mail merged your letters why not use PostboxNow to have them professionally printed by Eight days a Week Print Solutions? With the choice of how you want them mailed to your customer; 1st class or 2nd class.

It's an easy and simple hybrid mail system that allows you to upload your letters, add some credit and know a trust print and mailing house will take care of the rest. Explore our dedicated hybrid mail page for more benefits of PostboxNow. 

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