Word 2002/2003 Mail Merges

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Express mail merges in Word 2002 and 2003

If you’ve tried to rerun an existing merge or create a new one in Word 2002 or 2003, you’ll have discovered that Office XP revolutionized mail merging with the Mail Merge Wizard. There are some very neat new features that ease the task for beginners, but if you’re an accomplished merger and just want to set up a simple merge as quickly as possible, here’s how.

Customize the Mail Merge toolbar

As explained in Customizing Word 2002, you can avoid the Mail Merge Wizard by using the Mail Merge toolbar. The first thing to do is to add the familiar Merge Fields menu back to the toolbar.1 To do this:

  1. Click the down arrow at the right end of the toolbar.

  2. Click the down arrow on the Add or Remove Buttons item that appears.

  3. Click on Mail Merge.

  4. At the bottom of the list is Insert Merge Field; put a check beside that and it will be added to the toolbar.

Alternatively, select Insert Merge Field 4 from the list of commands in the Mail Merge category on the Commands tab of Tools | Customize and drag it to the Mail Merge toolbar.

If you have previously used the Mail Merge Helper and prefer to continue using it, it is still available in Word 2002 and 2003. You can add the Mail Merge Helper button () to the Mail Merge toolbar (or any other toolbar) from the Tools | Customize dialog. Find the MailMergeHelper command in the All Commands category on the Commands tab.

You may also want to add the Start Mail Merge button (), listed as simply “MailMerge” under All Commands in the Customize dialog. This button opens a dialog that allows you to choose to merge to a new document, the printer, email, or fax; filter and sort your database; suppress blank lines (or not); and set query options.

The capability to merge to Outlook also isn’t available in the Mail Merge toolbar by default. To add this capability, drag the MailMergeUseAddressBook command (from the All Commands category in Tools | Customize) to the toolbar. (Note that it uses the same data-linking method as in previous versions of Word, not the new Word 2002 OLEDB functionality.)2

Note that the Mail Merge toolbar is not displayed by default when you open a mail merge main document. There is a MailMergeToolbar command under All Commands in Customize, so you could add a toolbar button to display this toolbar, but the button does not have a default icon, so you would have to select or create a button image.3

Set up the main document

With just a few clicks you can set up your main document. The following procedure assumes that you already have this document (or a blank document you intend to use) open and also that you have already created your data source; if you haven’t, there’s no “express” way to do that!

  1. Press the Open Data Source button ( second from the left on the toolbar) and select your data source file (and the appropriate range if it’s an Excel worksheet).4

  2. Press the Main Document Setup button ( first on the left) and select the type of merge.

  3. Insert the merge fields in your document as desired using dropdown menu from the Insert Merge Field button you added to the toolbar. Add Word fields as needed using the Insert Word Field button.

  4. If your merge is to letters, envelopes, labels, an address directory, or some other type of document involving names and addresses, you may want to investigate the new Address Block feature ( first button in the second group), which allows you to insert a number of name and address fields quickly as a single block. The downside to this feature is that it is useful only for English-language users; it’s utterly useless for any other language. Also, if you want the lines of your address to end in line breaks, you will have to manually edit the Address Block field, since Word by default inserts paragraph breaks at the ends of the lines.

  5. Similarly, the Insert Greeting Line button () allows you to choose an appropriate form of salutation in a letter when the recipient’s name is known, plus an alternative to be used when it is not known (this merely automates what you may already know how to do with an IF field). Like the Address Block, though, this works only for English.

  6.  If your merge is to labels, set up the top left label on the sheet, then press the Propagate Labels button () to repeat your selected merge fields in all the other labels.

  7. If you want to merge all the records in your data source, you’re done setting up. If you will merge only specific records, you have two options. If you want to filter or sort them, you may find it easier to use the Start Mail Merge button you added.5. If, however, you want to select specific records from a relatively short list, then you will want to use the Mail Merge Recipients dialog ( button, third from the left), whose function is described in the Help topic “Select recipients to include in a mail merge.”

Note: This is one of the most powerful features of the improved Mail Merge function in Word 2002 and 2003. Although you can filter or sort by ZIP code, state, last name, etc., if you want to just cherry-pick specific recipients for a mailing, there is no substitute for the Mail Merge Recipients dialog. You can maximize it by double-clicking the title bar, allowing you to see an entire screen of records at a time (restore the dialog down, if desired, by double-clicking the title bar again). Just check the box for the records you want to use, then click OK.

Perform the merge

You can preview the effects of your merge for a single record using the View Merged Data () button on the toolbar. When this is satisfactory, you can then complete your merge using the buttons at the right end of the toolbar (Merge to New Document, Merge to Printer, Merge to E‑mail, Merge to Fax) or the Start Mail Merge button.

That’s all there is to it. Much quicker than fighting your way through the Mail Merge Wizard!


1This gets around the fact that the Mail Merge Recipients dialog is modal (you can’t step out of it and edit your document while you’re inserting fields). If you would prefer to have a modeless UserForm that displays all your mail merge fields, you can find it in a template prepared by Word MVP Cindy Meister.

2This article is intended primarily for relatively simple merges from within Word (or possibly Excel). If you are merging to Outlook, it is generally preferable to start the mail merge from within Outlook (Tools | Mail Merge), as this allows you to have access to all Outlook fields and to use the records in the current Outlook view.

3If you would like the Mail Merge toolbar to be displayed automatically when you open documents based on a specific template, you can copy the AutoOpen macro in Cindy’s template.

4If you’re having trouble with number and/or date formats from Excel or Access data sources, you’ll want to link to the data in the way Word 97 and Word 2000 did. Go to the General tab of Tools | Options and activate “Confirm conversion at Open.” After you select your spreadsheet or database in the Open Data Source dialog box, you’ll be presented with a list of data link methods. Choose DDE (or ODBC if you used to use that).

5For very large databases you will definitely want to use this button and avoid the Mail Merge Recipients dialog entirely, for two reasons. One is that the dialog is very slow to open if your data source has many records. The other is that a data source with more than 286 fields will crash Word when you try to display them in this dialog.

This article copyright © 2002, 2004, 2009 by Suzanne S. Barnhill.