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Hi, my name is Roxanne Kenison, and I'm a member of the team that publishes Help content about Word. You can get to this content by pressing the F1 key in Word, and also by going to the Help and How To page for Word 2007 on the Office Online site.
My team publishes new and updated content every month, based on what's hot, what's new, or what appears to be causing confusion with Word 2007. Because Word 2007 has a lot about it that's new (new UI, new file format), much of our efforts have gone into publishing content that addresses these areas. But there are some areas in Word that people need help with perennially, every version. One of these is mail merge.
Writing instructions for mail merge is a bit like writing instructions for a craft project, where you need to start out by telling the reader all the items they need to assemble before they even begin working on the project. Along the way, you need to place signposts to keep the reader on track. Mail merge is complex. But, when people get it, they're thrilled that Word has such powerful capabilities. We find that our mail merge content is particularly appreciated at holiday time, when businesses and families alike send out those ubiquitous holiday newsletters.
We recently published a series of demos that show how to do mail merge with labels. We have found demos to be a very popular type of content on our site--maybe it's easier to see something in action than it is to read about it. Still, videos are indeed a linear format. If you have a specific question about some detailed aspect of the mail merge process, you may not want to watch a whole video, let alone a series of them.
For example, the demos that show how to create mail merged labels walk through the whole process, end to end. But something that I think is especially confusing with mail merge labels is how Word uses a table to create the layout, and you have to remember to use the Update Label command to make all the cells update.
Here's how this works:
You've begun the merge, having selected the data source and the labels you want to work with. You add the Address Block to the first label. Your document looks like this:
Now, you must click Update Labels to populate all the labels with the content of the first label (<<AddressBlock>> is added to each label):
Clicking Preview Results shows you the data on each label (Of course, this is a pretend mailing list!):
To view each entry, you click the forward arrow in the Preview Results group of the Mailings tab (tool tip label is Next Record).
Because Word is using a table to lay out the sheet of labels, clicking Next Record can be an odd experience. Word uses the top left label to display the "current" record, and this can give you the wrong impression that something screwy is happening to how the sheet of labels will be printed. The preview here is a preview of the data, not of the sheet of labels. To really see what the sheet of labels is going to look like, go to the Finish & Merge button, and then click Edit Individual Documents. This will copy the data into a standalone document (no longer linked to the data source), and you can preview it as you would any Word doc.
Oh, and if you're using a Tablet PC and the Update Labels command doesn't seem to be working, you may be experiencing a problem that's documented in this KB article.
I hope this takes the mystery out of mail merge labels for you. If you watch the demos, be sure to leave feedback with the "Was this information helpful?" buttons. My team uses this feedback to gauge what further content to publish on Office Online.
Most urgent problem with mailings for advanced users is there's no way to put a "Page 1 of X" into the footer that will work in every case: If you use Numpages-field for X and then finish with "Edit Individual Documents" then X will contain the total number of resulting pages instead of the number of pages for each recipient on print out. If you use Sectionpages-field for X instead it won't work if the mailing already has multiple sections before finishing - X will only contain the number of pages for a part of the letter. However first method (Numpages-field) works fine with output to printer. I'm sure this is by design but imho an improvement is worth discussing. @Jonathan: Could you please give an update for the wrong converting issue (Arial->Times New Roman) with the DOCX-Compatibility Pack for Word 2000? When can we expect a fix? Problem would occur here with every single document during roll-out. :-( And roll-out time would be several months because of the new interface...
Stefan – We’re tracking the issue internally. Unfortunately I am not able to disclose when/if a fix will be available. One thing to note is that ‘mainstream support’ for Office 2000 ended on June 30th, 2004 (support.microsoft.com/default.aspx). This means that Office 2000 is now in ‘extended support’ until July 14, 2009. A breakdown of ‘mainstream’ vs. ‘extended’ support is available at: support.microsoft.com/.../lifepolicy. Have you tried opening one of the affected documents in Word 2007 and converting it there? I.e. Instead of converting the document in Word 2000…try converting (command found on the Office menu) in Word 2007. -Jonathan (MS)
Jonathan - first please let me answer your question: Yes, the issue occurs when you open the .DOC file with Word 2007, use the Convert-Command from the Office Menu (or simply save it as DOCX) and then open the .DOCX file on another PC with the installed Office 2007 Compatibility Pack in Word 2000. (like described here: pschmid.net/.../viewtopic.php ) Second, I want to point out that the issue is NOT caused by Word 2000. The bug IS in the "Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats" that was initially released in November 2006. This Office Compatibility Pack explicitely was released for use with Word 2000. The compatibility pack suffers of not being able to determine the correct font of lots of DOCX-files and this is an issue that could of course be fixed. So it would be very irritating for customers not to correct this major bug because of the life cycle of Word 2000. This might seem to them almost like if this Compatibility Pack wouldn't allow to read any DOCX-files with Word 2000 at all and Microsoft would say "We don't fix this, because Word 2000 is since 2004 in extended support phase". Huh? Third, I want to remind Microsoft that not fixing the issue would be against your goal for the Compatibility Pack:
"Our goal here is to make compatibility with the new formats as close to a non-issue as possible." like described here: blogs.msdn.com/.../774087.aspx Also I wonder how long the "mainstream support" cycle of the Compatibility Pack for the Office 2007 system will last. I could not find anything about that. Isn't its life cycle attached to the life cycle of Office 2007? Thank you for your answers. Stefan
Hi Stefan – I apologize for the pain this is causing. You’ll note that this issue does not repro in fully updated Word 2003…it is an issue with Word 2000. Anyone can open .docx files and not experience this issue (for free) by installing the Word Viewer, the Compatibility Pack, and all updates offered on Microsoft Update. -Jonathan (MS)
So my current advice to companies trying to migrate from Office 2000/XP to Office 2007 is: Thoroughly examine if the Office Compatibility Pack is an working option to use during roll-out phase for interoperability (reading, editing, writing). The Compatibility Pack is published with support for Office 2000 and Office XP but any – even mission critical - issues when using it might not be fixed if they occur only with Office 2000 or Office XP. @Jonathan:
I still don’t get what the life cycle of the Compatibility Pack is. It would seem quite unlogical to me if this tool was released by MS to ease the transition from Office 2000/XP/2003 to Office 2007 but bugs in this tool when used with Office 2000 or Offic XP would not be fixed. So the life cycle of the Compatibility Pack still has to be defined in a reasonable way I guess. What’s the best way to pass this on to the responsible staff?
While on the mail merge command--
When merging a document to e-mail, is there any way to select which e-mail address the merge is sent from? I often use merge for e-mail surveys, but have to remember to open Outlook and change the default e-mail address prior to sending so that returned surveys land in the appropriate survey inbox. Also, any news on the field issues I reported (heading text cross-refs reproducing text preceding heading referenced, above/below cross-refs broken in footnotes, less-than symbol in STYLEREFs for bibliography headers, spaces before commas in bibliographies?) Incidentally, by replacing all frames with text boxes, I've totally gotten rid of the line- and page-breaking problems (missing syllable and lines), positioning, de-framing, and table corruption problems as well as 90% of the crashes I experienced.
Hi Stefan - support.microsoft.com would be your best bet as it is the hub for all things support related. -Jonathan (MS)
QUESTION - Has mail merge changed in any way between 2007 and 2010 (except for the obvious Office button being replaced by the File tab).
Yes... it seems to be on the path of becoming more obscure as it tries to be all things to all people. The posting by Roxanne Kenison is evidence of just one aspect of this - who on earth thought of putting in a preview of the labels you've generated that bear no resemblance to the labels that will, er, be printed!! Thank you Roxanne - I was tearing my hair out and wondering why it's suddenly become impossible to do something even my earliest PC (running CP/M) could do with ease.
I've followed the merge widget over and over again... but my excel data will not populate the labels on the screen when select "Preview Results".... I must be missing something...Help!!...