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Creating a Mail Merge in Word

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Sending out e-mails to large numbers of people is often shrouded in mystery, but is actually very easy. It's possible to send out one e-mail to dozens or hundreds of people, but there are three main disadvantages to this:

  1. All recipients will see the names and e-mail addresses of all other recipients, possibly resulting in you breaking the Data Protection Act.
  2. E-mails sent in this way are likely to be picked up by spam filters.
  3. The e-mail has to be addressed generally (for example, "Dear Customer,"), and not personally (for example, "Dear Rob,").

It is, of course, possibly to send the single e-mail using BCC:, but this is even more likely to be picked up by Spam filters.

The best solution is to create a Mail Merge using a word processor. This webpage explains how to achieve this using Word 2000, but the process will be similar in other versions of Word, and other word processors. All pictures are stored on Flickr. If you click on any of the images, it will open up the full-size screenshot in Flickr (right-mouse-click and select Open Link in New Tab if you want to keep both page open).

Word Mail MergeWord Mail MergeStep 1: With a new blank document open, click on Tools>>Mail Merge. This brings up the Mail Merge Helper.

Word Mail MergeStep 2: Click on Create, followed by Form Letters.

Word Mail MergeStep 3: Click on Active Window.

Word Mail MergeStep 4: Click on Get Date, followed by Create Data Source.

Word Mail MergeStep 5: The Create Data Source dialogue box is displayed. This contains a list of fields that might be used in a Mail Merge. Add any extra fields that you need, and remove those that you don't. As a minimum, you will need to add an Email field. Click on OK when you're finished.

Word Mail MergeStep 6: You should then see a dialogue box saying that the data source that you just created contains no data records. You should then click on the Edit Data Source button.

Word Mail MergeStep 7: The Data Form dialogue box is then displayed. You should use this to enter the details of the recipients of the e-mail. Start off initially with only a few people, just to check that the Mail Merge works. Click on the OK button when you've finished adding data. The SaveAs dialogue box will then be displayed, into which you should enter the name for your data file.

Word Mail MergeStep 8: The Mail Merge Helper should be displayed again. You should then click on Edit, followed by Form Letter: Document1.

Word Mail MergeWord Mail MergeStep 9: This opens up your blank Word document, so that you can type your letter. However, instead of typing "Dear Rob", as you normally would, type "Dear ", then click on Insert Merge Field, and then click on FirstName. Repeat this process as you continue to write your letter.

Word Mail MergeWord Mail MergeStep 10: When you've finished writing your e-mail, click on the Merge button, which brings up the Merge dialogue box. Then select Electronic Mail from the Merge to drop-down menu.

Word Mail MergeStep 11: Click on Setup, select Email from the Data field with Mail/Fax address, type in a subject into the Mail message subject line box, make sure that the Send document as attachment tick-box isn't ticked, and then click on the OK button.

Word Mail MergeWord Mail MergeStep 12: If you're using Outlook Express, you will probably see a security warning for every e-mail that you send. Simply click on the Send button for each e-mail. If you find this annoying, this security warning can be turned off using Tools>>Options>>Security in Outlook Express.

If you have a large number of recipients, then it's better to store the data in a CSV file, an Excel spreadsheet, or an Access database. The process using one of these data stores is similar, except in step 4, you must click on Open Data Source, instead of Create Data Source, and follow a different process instead of steps 5 to 7.

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Created on: 15 Apr 2007. Modified on: 15 Apr 2007.
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