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This step-by-step article describes what mail merge is and how to perform a basic mail merge to create a form letter in Microsoft Word.
For additional information about performing other types of mail merges, merging with other types of data, and problem solving, review the list of articles in the Related Articles section of this article.
For a description of the terms used in this article, see the Glossary section of this article.
There are three main components to a mail merge:
The data source contains the information (such as names, addresses, and phone numbers) that varies with each version of the document. Most of the time, you can store your data in a Word document; however, Word also recognizes other formats. For example, the data source can be a Microsoft Excel worksheet, a Microsoft Access database, or a comma-separated variable (CSV) file.
The data source is set up with a header row (also called a header record) and data records. The header row is the first item in the data source. It contains the field names that identify the variable information. The data records contain the individualized information. Each data record is made up of one or more fields, depending on how much variable information you have for each individual. This set of information makes up one data record.
The mail merge process has four main steps:
Data field. A category of information in a data source. A data field corresponds to one column of information in the data source. The name of each data field is listed in the first row (header row) of the data source. "PostalCode" and "LastName" are examples of data field names.
Data record. A complete set of related information in a data source. A data record corresponds to one row of information in the data source. All information about one client in a client mailing list is an example of a data record.
Data source. A data source is a file that contains the data that varies in each copy of a merged document. For example, a data source can include the name and address of each recipient of a form letter.
Delimited. A text file that has data fields separated (or delimited) by tab characters or commas, and data records delimited by paragraph marks.
Header row. The first row (or record) in a mail-merge data source. The header row contains the field names for the categories of information in the data source; for example, "Name" and "City." The header row can also be stored in a separate document called the header source.
Main document. In a mail-merge operation, the document that contains the text and graphics that remain the same for each version of the merged document; for example, the return address and body of a form letter.
Merge field. A placeholder that you insert in the main document. Merge fields direct Microsoft Word where to insert specific information from the data source. For example, insert the merge field "City" to have Word insert a city name, such as "Paris," that is stored in the City data field.
Merged document. The document that is created by merging the data from the data source into the main document.
Word Mail Merge Support Resources
For more information about mail merge, click Microsoft Word Help on the Help menu, type mail merge in the Office Assistant or the Answer Wizard, and then click Search to view the topics returned.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212322/ )HOW TO: Design and Set Up Mail Merge Data in Microsoft Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212017/ )HOW TO: Use Mail Merge to Create Envelopes in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212034/ )HOW TO: Create Mailing Labels by Using Mail Merge in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212029/ )HOW TO: Create a Custom Label or Modify an Existing Label in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212012/EN-US/ )WD2000: How to Force Text to Start at Same Line in Merged Letter
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211363/EN-US/ )WD: How to Specify Multiple Conditions with a Nested IF
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212314/ )HOW TO: Use an Excel Data Source for Mail Merge in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/214183/ )HOW TO: Use Mail Merge with an Access Parameter Query in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211190/ )HOW TO: Use Access 2000 Data in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211206/ )HOW TO: Use the Outlook Express Address Book in a Mail Merge in Microsoft Word
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212379/ )WD2000: How to Convert WordPerfect 6.x Data Files and Address Books
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212334/EN-US/ )WD2000: How to Convert Data in One Column to a Table
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211702/EN-US/ )WD2000: How to Convert WordPerfect Merge Data
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/214827/EN-US/ )WD: How to Use Nested IF Fields in a Mail Merge Document
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/264722/EN-US/ )WD2000: How to Suppress Blank Lines During a Mail Merge
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211303/EN-US/ )How To Use Mail Merge to Create a List Sorted by Category in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211293/ )HOW TO: Change Delivery or Return Address Formatting in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212078/ )HOW TO: Add a Graphic or Logo to Every Label in Word 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212358/EN-US/ )WD2000: Merge Data Source Fails to Attach or Merge
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212263/EN-US/ )WD2000: Error Message: Word Could Not Open <File Name.doc> as a Data or Header Source Because It Is the Active Mail Merge Main Document
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212125/EN-US/ )WD2000: Error Message: 'Error! Reference Source Not Found' with Blank Ask or Fillin Field
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211729/ )WD2000: ErrMsg: "Word could not merge the main document with the data source because the data records were empty or no data records matched your query options."
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/242339/ )WD2000: Misspelled Word Not Flagged When Checking the Spelling of Mail Merged Document
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211437/EN-US/ )WD2000: Mail Merge Main and Data Documents Not Saved in Background
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/240854/EN-US/ )WD2000: Limitations of Converting WordPerfect 5.x Documents
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211727/ )WD2000: Mail Merge Main Document Restored to Normal Word Document
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/189196/ )WD2000: Error Message: "<Main Document File Name> Is a Mail Merge Main Document" Using Outlook 97 or Schedule+
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212354/ )WD2000: Character Formatting in Data Source Not Retained After Merge
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/212068/EN-US/ )WD2000: Change Case Does Not Apply Formatting to Merge Fields
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/220250/EN-US/ )WD2000: Error Message: Fields Are Nested Too Deeply in Mail Merge
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211322/EN-US/ )WD2000: Cannot Change Default Field Names in Mail Merge Helper
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/214157/ )WD2000: Cannot Replace All Occurrences of Invalid MERGEFIELD Field
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/211651/EN-US/ )WD2000: Blank Space Appears If Field Is Blank in Mail Merge
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/264892/EN-US/ )WD2000: Blank Line Is Not Suppressed in a Conditional Mail Merge
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/270623/ )OLEXP: How to Use the Outlook Express Address Book in a Mail Merge Procedure
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/192258/ )How to do a mail merge with your contact list in Outlook 2000
Article ID: 212329 - Last Review: May 7, 2007 - Revision: 4.1