Incorrect format of phone number in mail merge result

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Article ID: 193652 - View products that this article applies to.
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In Microsoft Word, when you perform a mail merge with an external data source that contains phone numbers, the phone numbers are incorrectly formatted in the mail merge results. The separator characters may be missing or incorrect, or you may receive the following error message:
Error! Picture String contains unmatched quotes.
For example, if the expected phone number is (999) 555-1212, the number may appear as one of the following:
  • 9995551212

  • (9995551212)

  • (999) 555 1212


This problem occurs when you use data from Microsoft Access or another database source that can store phone numbers as ordinary numbers, but can present them with the correct formatting in the native program.

During a mail merge, the data appears in its native, stored format from the external data source. This occurs when the merge field for the phone number is missing the numeric picture field switch or has incorrect syntax.


To work around this problem, use the numeric picture switch "\#" in the merge field for the phone number. Follow these rules when using the numeric picture switch "\#":
  • Enclose the format picture in quotation marks (") if the output format you want contains spaces, parentheses, or other characters.
  • Enclose any hyphens in apostrophes (') so that the hyphen is treated as a text string. This is necessary even if the entire format picture is already enclosed in quotation marks.
   Format wanted     Field code to use
   (999) 555-1212    {MERGEFIELD phone \# "(###) ###'-'####" }
   999-555-1212      {MERGEFIELD phone \# "###'-'###'-'####" }
   999 555-1212      {MERGEFIELD phone \# "### ###'-'####" }

NOTE: To view the actual field codes { } instead of the merge fields << >>, use ALT+F9 (OPTION+F9 on Macintosh) to turn them on and off.


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section.


For additional information, please see the following articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
142340 The Date, Phone Number, and Currency fields are merged incorrectly when you use an Access or Excel data source in Word 97 or in Word 2000

121938 Hyphens don't display correctly with numeric picture switch


Article ID: 193652 - Last Review: October 10, 2013 - Revision: 2.1
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Word 6.0a
  • Microsoft Word 6.0c
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Word 6.0 for Macintosh
  • Microsoft Word 6.01 for Macintosh
  • Microsoft Word 6.01 for Macintosh
  • Microsoft Word 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Word 95a
kbnosurvey kbarchive kbbug kbfield kbmerge kbpending KB193652

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