Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Doing It En Masse...Part 2

Let's start by creating the preliminary documentation you need to complete a merge.

List of Addresses
The first item you need is a list of addresses. You can use any of the following programs when creating a list of addresses: MS Excel spreadsheet, MS Word table, MS Outlook contacts list, or MS Access database. For this exercise, I'm going to suggest that you create an MS Word table.

Reproducing the table as shown above is important because Word is going to pick the data in a particular sequence during the merge: First, Last, Address, City, State, and then Zip. If you need to review creating a table, click here to review the post. Save the Word document under the name List.

Letter Text
The second item you need is the text for the letter that you want to send to each recipient shown in the list above. Here's some suggested text. It's nonsense but you need text to create the letters. Open a Word document, don't change the style (it's Normal), type the following text, and save the document under the name Letter.
My name is Pam (enter your name) and I'm a distant cousin of yours. I'm in the process of constructing a family history and I'm hoping to get some information from you. If you go to the following website, you'll see some of the information I already have: 
Enclosed please find a questionnaire and a self-addressed stamped envelope. I'm asking that you complete missing information if you can, and then mail the form back to me.
Thank you for your time and attention to this request. If you would like more information on this project or if you would like to assist, please add your email address or phone number so that that I can contact you.
Completing the Merge
In my next post (probably this weekend), we'll use the List and Letter documents to complete a merge. After the merge is complete, you'll have five separate letters, each individually addressed. In addition, you'll be able to edit each letter to add individualized text.

This particular example with five letters doesn't seem like much; however, when you have to produce 200 letters, knowing how to do a merge will be convenient. Even is you plan to PDF each letter and attach it to an email (a way to save some cash), you can still use the merge to make the task of producing the individual letters less time consuming.


  1. Marvelous work.Just wanted to drop a comment and say I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading.
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  2. Hi Michael--I'm glad you're finding the blog postings helpful. I'm a technical writer by trade and thus a heavy user of MS Word. I'm attempting to tell people why they should care about learning to do a task (skill), and then telling them how to do the task. So comments like yours only encourages me! If you have a question, please post it and I'll try to answer it...Pam