Mail Merge
In working with Microsoft Windows, there are always 3-4 methods to achieve the same result.  Of course this indeed lends itself to confusion when trying to learn something new.  In this illustration you will learn one method of performing a mail merge with MS Excel used as the primary source of data (names and addresses) and MS Word doing the actual merge.

To eliminate risk in using your own data, a sample database may be downloaded and used for this purpose.
                                                 Sample database -> mmerge database.xls

It is recommended all files relative to this illustration be placed in the folder \My Documents\MailMerge.  If you are uncertain how to create a new folder, click here
Open and examine the database.  It contains 45 records (Lines) and 11 fields (columns) of data. The first action is to make a duplicate of the database.  (The only time you should work on the main database is when you are adding or editing data.  All other times you should work on a copy!)

By clicking in the upper left corner of the grid you will Select All (Ctrl+A) the data on the sheet.  Then click Edit -> Copy (Ctrl+C) to place the data in the Windows Clipboard. Next you will click Insert -> Worksheet.  Excel will create the new worksheet and locate your cursor in Cell A1.  Click Edit -> Paste and a new copy of your database will appear on the just created worksheet.  You now have two identical copies of your database.  At this point you should safeguard your work by saving it to disk. 
                           Recommended: Save to \My Documents\MailMerge\mergedata.xls


In examining the sample database, you'll note there are several Fields (columns) which will not be required. You may arbitrarily click on columns H, I, J and K, highlighting each and pressing the Delete key.  Poof!  They're gone.

For our purposes, we will only be using addresses in Chicago. Once again click in the upper left corner of the grid to Select All (Ctrl+A). Next, click on Data -> Sort.  In the Sort window select _City.  Make sure the Header Row button is darkened. Then click OK.|

Following the sort, delete lines 1-2 and 38-43.  This should leave 37 Chicago addresses.  Save your work now and Congratulations! Your database is ready for the mail merge.

A few words about managing your databases: As you've already witnessed, we began with a database that contain more data than what we were going to use.  That's very common and as you've seen, very easy to eliminate the un-needed data.  What is very important is how you lay your database out in the beginning.  It is of the utmost importance that each element of data be given its own Field.  This especially applies to names (where First, Maiden and Last should be 3 fields) and city, state and zip (where again each should have its own field.)  Middle initial and/or names can be part of the first name.  You'll see later on how easy it is to put these fields together if needed.
When you're ready to continue, click here.

 ©2010 by Marshall K DuBois - All Rights Reserved