Mail merge

How to do a mail merge with Word and Excel

  • You can mail merge in Microsoft Word and Excel to create personalized documents for multiple recipients at once.
  • You can import an Excel data table into Word to personalize your template with names and addresses.
  • Mail merge helps you quickly create personalized letters, envelopes, labels automatically and more.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference Library for more stories.

It’s surprisingly easy to set up a mail merge, allowing you to create seemingly personalized communication for a large number of recipients without creating each message by hand.

To merge a document – like a letter, envelope, print label, or email – all you need is Microsoft Word and Excel, plus any names and addresses you want to merge.

What is a direct mail?

Direct mail consists of two parts. First, you will need the data file in Excel. It’s simply a table that includes the information you want to merge – usually names and addresses, although you can merge data on anything.

Additionally, you will create a mail merge template in Word – this is a document that includes the boilerplate text you want it to be the same for each recipient as well as the placeholder for the data you Word will insert from the Excel data file.

How to do a mail merge in Word and Excel

1. Start Excel and open a blank workbook.

2. You need to import or enter the data you plan to use, and how you do this depends on how the data currently exists. For example, if you have a large number of addresses stored in a CSV file, import it into this Excel file. Click on the “Data” tab in the ribbon and choose “Get Data”, then “From File” and finally “From Text/CSV”. The data may also already be in an Excel spreadsheet, in an Access database, or you may need to enter it entirely into Excel. Whatever method you need to use, build it into the spreadsheet.

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Import data into your spreadsheet or create it from scratch.

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3. If the data doesn’t have a header row yet, add one now (you can right-click row 1 on the far left and choose “Insert” from the menu). Label the header so you know what each column contains. Word will also use this line to correctly import your data.

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Make sure your data table is labeled with a header in the first row.

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4. You may need to change the formatting of some columns. For example, if the ZIP Code column is formatted for numbers, ZIP codes with leading zeros will appear without the zero as a four-digit number. To resolve this problem, click on the column header to select the entire column. Then click on the “Home” tab and click on “General” in the Number section of the ribbon. Select “Text” from the menu.

5. Save the spreadsheet. You can save it anywhere, but you can find it more easily in Word if you save it in the “DocumentsMy Data Sources” folder.

6. Open Microsoft Word. Open a new, blank document, then create the boilerplate text you want to include in each merged document.

seven. Position the cursor at the top left of the page where you want the recipient’s name and address to appear.

8. Click on the “Mailings” tab in the ribbon, then click on “Start Mailing”. From the drop-down menu, choose “Letters” or any other template you want to use. For this example, we’ll create a letter, but you can use this process for any type of document. You should see no changes in the document.

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Start the mail merge process by clicking the “Start Mail Merge” button in the ribbon and selecting a template type.

Dave Johnson/Insider


9. Click “Select recipients” and from the drop-down menu choose “Use an existing list…”

ten. Find the Excel spreadsheet you created and select it. If you saved it in the “My Data Sources” folder, it should be in the default location for mail merges.

11. In the “Select Table” dialog box, choose the sheet that contains your data table. If you created a new spreadsheet for this purpose, there will only be one. Be sure to check the “First row of data contains column headers” box. Then click “OK”.

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Select the sheet in the workbook that contains the mail merge data table, check the box, and click “OK.”

Dave Johnson/Insider


12. In the “Write and insert fields” section of the ribbon, click on “Address block”.

13. In the “Insert Address Block” dialog choose the style you want to use to insert the data – you should see the first entry in the data table as an example.

14. If you don’t see all the expected fields, you need to match the spreadsheet fields with Word’s mail merge feature. Click “Match Fields…”, then choose the field names in the spreadsheet to fill in the blanks. Word generally does a good job of guessing, but it’s not uncommon to need to modify your mail merge fields. When you’re done, click “OK” and then “OK” again.

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You may need to map fields from the data table to Word.

Dave Johnson/Insider


15. You should now see a mail merge placeholder in the document.

16. To preview your document, click “Preview Results” in the Preview Results section of the ribbon. Use the forward and back arrows to see what each data entry looks like in your document. You can use it to make sure there are no annoying data entry or conversion errors.

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Once the space is placed in the Word document, you can preview the document and see what each entry in the data table looks like.

Dave Johnson/Insider


17. When you’re ready, click “Finish and Merge” and choose how you want to finish the document, such as print or email.

18. You can save this Word document for later reuse.

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