Today’s author, Eric Patterson, a Program Manager on the Excel team, describes how to use Excel Tables as a source for a mail merge – a great productivity tool for sending out holiday greeting cards! Eric wrote this before the holidays but unfortunately I was out of the office and didn’t get to post this until now. Very useful nonetheless.
At this time of the year I find myself preparing to send out a large number of greeting cards to friends and family. I have most of my addresses in Excel with columns for FirstName, LastName, Address, City, State and Postal Code. The workbooks looks like this:
If you’re like me, you don’t keep your address list up to date and you don’t print envelopes often. I have a number of addresses that I know are correct but there are others that I need to confirm before printing them out. Given the number that I need to do for the holidays, I do want to get started though.
Creating a Table
The first step is to create a Table from the list of addresses.
- Select a cell within the range containing the addresses, such as cell B2.
- On the Insert Tab, click on the Table button
- A dialog will appear asking for the range of cells containing your addresses and whether your table has headers. Verify that the items are correct and click OK.
- The range of cells will now have a table style applied and dropdowns at the top of each column that provide options for sorting and filtering.
Defining a Name for the Table
Excel allows you to define names that apply to a range of cells in the worksheet. When a name is defined for a Table in a worksheet, the name will update automatically as the table is resized to add or remove data. This is helpful in this case because I want to add and remove addresses during the process of printing envelopes.
- To define a name, click “Define Name” command on the Formula Tab.
- In the New Name dialog, type the name Addresses and the range of cells your addresses are in ($B$2:$G$15 in this case)
- Click on OK to create the name
After my Table is created and a name applied, I start going through the addresses to confirm which ones are correct. I do this by adding a new column to the Table for this year. To do this, just type 2008 in cell H2. The Table and the name that we defined will expand automatically. Once you have the new column, then you can type something in the column to indicate whether the address is correct. I used a “Y” in my list.
Sorting the List
Next I want to separate the table into 2 tables; one for confirmed addresses and one for those that need to be updated.
Here is what the sorted table looks like:
Separating the Tables
The next step is to cut and paste the unconfirmed addresses to another sheet in the workbook
- Select the table headers and copy and paste to a new worksheet (I named the sheet “NeedAddresses”)
- Select the records that are unconfirmed and cut and paste them to the new worksheet below the headers
- The Table will need to be resized to exclude the blank rows. Using the arrow handle in the lower right corner of the table, resize it to just include your addresses.
- Save your workbook (Addresses.xlsx) and you are now ready for the mail merge.
Start the Mail Merge
The steps above created a workbook containing a table of addresses on one sheet that has a name (Addresses) defined that corresponds to the table range. The remaining steps will show how to create the mail merge in Word to create envelopes.
- Start Microsoft Word
- On the Mailings tab, select the Start Mail Merge / Envelopes Command
- Select the appropriate Envelope size and click OK
- Select the Use Existing List command from the Select Recipients Dropdown
- Select your address file in the Select Data Source dialog and click Open
- Select the Defined Name, “Addresses” in the Select Table dialog and click OK
The Word document is now connected to the Table in Excel.
Adding the Address Block and Previewing Envelopes
Next you can insert the address block into your envelope and preview the results
- On the Mailings tab click on the Address Block command to add an address block
- Position the address block where you want it on the envelope by adding carriage returns, center alignment, etc.
- To Preview what it will look like, click on the “Preview Results” command.
- You can also use the other commands in the Preview Results group to find recipients or navigate through the addresses.
- When everything looks good, you can click on the Finish & Merge dropdown to print your envelopes.
- In the Merge to Printer dialog, I would suggest starting with just the current record to make sure that you have the envelope positioned correctly.
- When things are printing as expected, you may want to print sets of say 10 envelopes at a time based on your printer using the From __ To: __ choice in the merge to printer dialog.
How do I finish my Envelopes?
As you validate more of your addresses, or if you want to send a card to someone that wasn’t on your original list, follow these steps:
- First you need to clear the addresses that you’ve already printed. I copy the entire table to a sheet named “Printed” to start with, then clear the contents of the cells within the original table, leaving the table headers.
- Next I copy addresses from my “NeedAddresses” sheet and paste them just below the headers in the “ReadyToPrint” sheet which will expand the Table and the Addresses defined name.