Select the product you need help with
- Internet Explorer
- Windows Phone
- More products
How to design and set up a mail merge address list in Word
Article ID: 294688 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q294688
For a Microsoft Word 2000 version of this article, see 212322
This article describes the acceptable formats for a mail-merge address list and includes suggestions and questions that are helpful to ask yourself as you create an address list.
Designing a data sourceIn Microsoft Word, you can create a new address list within the Mail Merge Wizard. When you choose "Step 3: Select Recipients" in the wizard, the Type a New List option is available. This option builds your address list.
Another way to create an address list is from a Word table. You can also use any database-like format, such as a text file in which fields are separated by commas or tabs, and records are separated by paragraph marks.
In an address list, each category of information, such as last name, is called a field. The set of fields that make up information about one person is called a record.
What to consider when you design a data sourceBefore you create an address list, decide what information you want to include and how you want to use that information, and then design the database. This saves you time and work later.
Do some records have more information than others?Some of your data records may have more information than other records. For example, some entries may have a business name, a department title, and up to three lines for the address. Other entries may have only a name, a one-line street address, and a third line with the city, state, and postal code.
In the address list, each data record must have the same number of data fields. Design your address list so that it has enough data fields to correspond to the record with the most fields. You do not need to fill in every field in the data record; you can leave some fields blank. Word automatically suppresses blank records.
Do you plan to sort the data?If you plan to sort your data, you must arrange it so that you can sort the data based on some criteria. For example, the city, state, and postal code are usually printed on the same line of a mailing label, so you might want to include all of this information in the same field. If you include all of this information in the same field, you cannot sort your records based on the state or the postal code. In this case, you should separate each piece of information into a separate field.
The same is true if you want to sort your data by the last names of the addressees. In this case, you must separate the last names and the first names into separate fields.
Will you use the information in a particular field in different ways?In a form letter, the first line of the inside address usually contains a courtesy title and the addressee's complete name. The salutation may contain only the courtesy title and last name or only the first name. If you place the title, first name, and last name in separate fields, you can use the same field to print the last name in both the address and the salutation. Alternatively, you can use one field for the complete title and name in the inside address, and a second field for the title and last name in the salutation.
Will you use the address list for several merge documents?You can merge a single address list with any type and number of main documents. In setting up an address list to print form letters, plan the addressee information so that you can use the same data source to print the addresses on mailing labels or envelopes.
How many fields (pieces of information) do you have for each record (the collection of the pieces of information)?If you have a few pieces of information for each record, you can use the Mail Merge Wizard (on the Tools menu) in Word. This allows you to access the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box to set up your address list.
There is a limitation of 255 fields in the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box. If your number of fields exceeds this value, do not use the Mail Merge Helper. Instead, use one of the following:
The header record (row) cannot contain any spaces. Each header field is limited to 40 characters and must start with a letter. Each subsequent character must be a letter, a number, or the underscore character. All header fields must be filled in. Notice that the restrictions described here are different on some language Word versions.
Organizing data in tables or paragraphsWhen you organize your data in a table, the table should contain a column for each field name that you want to use. The first row of the table is your header row; each subsequent row contains the information for one data record.
Although text might wrap in each cell, it will be printed correctly. The following is a list of items to consider when you use an existing address list as a data source:
Designing an address list that contains many fieldsThe Mail Merge Recipient dialog box creates an address list (.mdb) for the data file. In Microsoft Word, the maximum number of fields for the Mail Merge Recipient dialog box is 255.To create a new database from the Mail Merge Recipient dialog box, follow these steps:
For more information about how to create a form letter, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
294683If you need more than 255 data fields in your address list, Word cannot organize the data from the Mail Merge Recipient dialog box. Instead, you can set up your information as separate paragraphs in a Word document. The header record and each data record must end with a paragraph mark, which is the data record delimiter. Each field name in the header record and each field in the data record must be separated by a tab character or comma, which is the data field delimiter. If any of the data fields is empty, you must include a field delimiter to identify the empty field.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/294683/ )How to use mail merge to create form letters in Word 2002 and in later versions of Word
If you are using an address list from a database or spreadsheet program, you can export this data to an ASCII text format, separated by commas or tabs. Or, you may be able to attach the database by using ODBC, DDE, or a converter. If you export your data to an ASCII format and Word does not automatically recognize the field and record delimiters, Word prompts you to select the delimiters when you first use the address list. When you set up an address list in this format in Word, you should use a paragraph mark as the data record delimiter and a tab character or comma as the data field delimiter.
In addition to the general rules for organizing an address list, the following rules also apply to address lists that are set up as regular text:
Deciding when to use a separate header sourceIn most cases, it is convenient to list the field name for each data field in the first row, or record, of the address list. However, you may want to list the field names in a separate header source for the following reasons:
To use a header source in a Word mail merge, you must add the Mail Merge Open Header Source button to your Mail Merge toolbar. To do this, follow the steps, as appropriate for the version of Word that you are running.
Word 2002 or Word 2003
Word 2007To use a header source in a Word mail merge in Word 2007, you must add the Mail Merge Open Header Source button to your Quick Access Toolbar.
To use a header source in a Word mail merge in Word 2007, add the Mail Merge Open Header Source button to your Quick Access Toolbar.
Designing a header sourceWhen you specify a header source, remember the following rules:
Using a header record from another address listIf you have an address list that contains a header record, you can use it as a header source. For example, if you broke up your address list into several documents, you can specify the field names in the header record of the first address list. When you merge from other address lists that do not have a header record, specify the first address list as the header source. Then specify each of the remaining address lists in turn.
Word ignores the data records from the first address list and uses only the header record.
Types of data that you can use with mail mergeYou can merge virtually any type of information from a mail-merge data source, including the following:
Types of data that you cannot useYou cannot merge text or graphics that are contained in a frame in the address list. However, you can position merge fields inside frames. When you merge the documents, the text and graphics from the address list are positioned in the frame.