If you want to send a document to many people via email, but you want it to be personalized (such as ensuring each person is addressed individually), use Word for an email merge. In other words, each message you send out has the same information but certain parts of the message are unique.
An example of this might be a yearly yoga retreat that’s coming up: You’re responsible for sending out the invitation to each person who attended last year’s event—all 170 of them. Word makes it fairly simple to send out this invitation to every one of your contortionist cohorts, each of them getting an email message addressed and personalized, just to—and for—them.
In a nutshell, these are the basic steps.
Important Be sure you’re using the same versions Outlook and Word: Microsoft Word 2013 and Microsoft Outlook 2013.
The mail merge process entails the following overall steps, and while this may seem complicated, it truly can be very straightforward with a little bit of setting up.
- Set up the email message. In this step, you’re going to open up Word to either a blank document or one you’ve already created and get started on the merging part of the process.
- Connect the message to your address list. Your address list is the data source that Word will use in the mail merge. It’s a file that contains the email addresses where the messages will be sent.
- Add placeholders, called mail merge fields, to the email message document. When you perform the mail merge, the mail merge fields are filled with information from your address list.
- Preview and complete the merge. You can preview each message before you send the whole set.
Set up the email message main document
- Start Word and either create your message in the blank document or start Word and open up something you’ve already started.
- Click Mailings > Start Mail Merge > E–mail Messages.
Connect the email message document to your list
Now it’s time to choose your recipients from a data source (a fancy name for an address list). If you don’t already have a data source, you can create one during the mail merge process. Be sure to check that your data source has a column for email addresses and that you have the email address of each person you’re sending this to.
Click Mailings > Select Recipients, and choose the data source you want to use:
- To use the email addresses from your Outlook contacts, click Choose from Outlook Contacts. If Word prompts you to choose a contact list or and Outlook profile, click the list or profile you want to use in the merge.
Important Be sure to make any changes to your contact list in Outlook before you start the merge. You won’t be able to change the list in Word.
- To use an address list that’s in an Excel spreadsheet or an Access database, click Use an Existing List and then browse to your list.
(You can read more about how to run a mail merge using an Excel spreadsheet.)
- If you don’t have an address list yet, click Type a New List and fill in the form that Word opens. (The list you create is saved as a database file, or.mdb file, that you can reuse. Read more about how to set up a mail merge list in Word.)
Note The next time you want to use this list for a merge, click Mailings > Select Recipients > Use an Existing List and choose the list you made.
If you clicked Use an Existing List, Word automatically selects everyone on the list you chose. If you plan to use your entire list as is, you can skip to the next step.
To narrow the list of recipients, select the names you want in the Mail Merge Recipients box. (You can open the Mail Merge Recipients box by clicking Mailings > Edit Recipient List.)
Here are some ways to narrow your list:
- Select individual records This is most useful if your list is short. Check the boxes next to the people you want to include, and uncheck the boxes next to the people you don’t.
- Sort records Click the column heading of the item that you want to sort by. The list sorts in ascending alphabetical order (from A to Z). Click the column heading again to sort the list in descending alphabetical order (Z to A).
- Filter records Under Refine recipient list, click Filter. This is handy when the list contains things that you know you don’t want to see or include in the merge. After you filter the list, you can check or uncheck the boxes to include or exclude people.
For more details on filtering, see Sort and filter the data for a mail merge.
- Add recipients To add people to the list, under Data source, click the name of your data file. Click Edit > New Entry and type the information for that recipient. For more information, see Add to a mail merge address list.
Add placeholders—or fields—to the email message document
After you connect your document to your address list, type the text of the message.
To personalize each message, add mail merge fields from your data source. For example, click Mailings > Write & Insert Fields > Greeting Line to add a line with the person’s name.
The Insert Greeting Line box opens, and you can choose whether you want to add “Dear” or “To” and how you want the person’s name to appear. Word inserts a placeholder for the greeting line and then adds each name during the merge.
You can also add other fields from your data source by clicking Insert Merge Field and the field you want to add. For more information, see Insert mail merge fields.
A spreadsheet program such as Excel stores the information that you type inside cells as raw data. When you merge information from an Excel spreadsheet into a Word document, you are merging that raw data without any Excel formatting. If your spreadsheet includes dates, times, currency values, or postal codes that begin or end in 0, read about formatting mail merge numbers, dates, and other values.
Preview and finish the merge
After you add fields to your email message’s main document, you’re ready to preview the merge results. When you’re satisfied with the preview, you can complete the merge.
Preview the merge
Click Mailings, and a couple of groups to the right, you’ll see Preview Results.
Now you can do any or all of the following:
- Click Preview Results.(This option is available only if you chose one or more placeholder fields, such as greeting, name, address, etc.)
- Page through each email message by clicking the blue arrows.
- Preview a specific document by clicking Find Recipient.
- Edit your recipient list—who’s getting this message—by clicking Mailings > Edit Recipient List.
Complete the merge and send the messages
- Click Mailings > Finish & Merge > Send E-mail Messages.
- In the To box, select the name of the email address column in your list.
Note Word sends an individual message to each email address. You can’t Cc or Bcc other recipients. You also can’t add attachments to the email merge message.
- In the Subject line box, type a subject line for the message.
- In the Mail format box, click HTML or Plain text to send the document as the body of the email message.
Important If you send the document as a plain text email message, the email message won’t include any text formatting or graphics.
Save the message
Save the message if you plan to use it for another mail merge.
When you save the email message’s main document, you also save its connection to the data file you chose. The next time you open the email message main document, Word prompts you to choose whether to keep the connection to the data file.
- If you click Yes, the document opens with information from the first record merged in.
- If you click No, the connection between the email message main document and the data file is broken. The email message main document becomes a standard Word document.