Mail Merge: A Quick Tutorial

This week’s blog post talks about a neat feature of Publisher that makes it much easier to send out personalized publications to the masses. Whether you’re a small business sending out marketing flyers or a home user sending out customized greeting cards, mail merge can help make the process easy and save you time.

So what exactly is Mail Merge?

Mail Merge is a tool within Publisher that helps you send out customized publications to a list of people (Mail Merge exists in other Office applications too, but this is a blog about Publisher!). Anything you create in Publisher from award certificates to flyers, greeting cards to address labels can be Mail Merged. If you already have your contacts saved as an Office Database Connection, Access Database, Microsoft Office Address List, or Microsoft Office List Shortcut, this will be especially easy since those are the formats accepted by mail merge. Don’t fret if you don’t though, there’s an option to create a new list as well.

I know it all sounds too good to be true, but there are just 4 basic steps you have to follow…


Step 0: Create your publication!

Ok, so this isn’t really part of the mail merge feature, but you have to create the document in order to send it. For this example I’ll be creating a Christmas card to send out to my family and friends. After you’ve finished making changes to your publication, simply go to the Tools menu, select Mailings and Catalogs, and then select Mail Merge to start the Mail Merge wizard.

Step 1: Create or select a recipient list

The Mail Merge wizard appears, and you have 3 options:

1.      Use an existing list: Here you can add a data source to retrieve information from.

2.      Select from Outlook Contacts: If you’re already an Outlook user and want to send your publication to some or all of your Outlook contacts, select this option.

3.      Type a new list: If you want to use Mail Merge but don’t have your contacts stored in one of the supported data sources, you can type up a new contact list with this option. You will be prompted to save the list once you’ve finished typing it up.

Once you’ve selected the method in which you’re retrieving your recipients, you’ll get a dialog where you can exclude certain recipients if you choose to do so. There are also other options for adding, sorting, and filtering your recipient list.

Step 2: Prepare your publication

In this step you can add fields from your recipient list to your publication, and preview the results.

You can insert fields into existing text boxes by placing your cursor in the text box where you want the field inserted, or simply click on the field, and it'll be inserted in a new text box. You can preview what your card will look like to different recipients using the arrow buttons on the wizard pane.

Step 3: Create merged publications

Here you have the option of printing what you have, merging to a new publication, or adding to an existing publication.

If you're happy with the result, you can go ahead and print the holiday cards by selecting the print option. However, if you want to add customized messages or pictures for certain recipients, you can merge to a new publication, where you can edit each recipient's card individually.

The add to existing publication option appends your holiday card to the end of a selected publication. The formatting of your card such as fonts, color schemes, paper sizes and orientation may be lost depending on the publication you’ve added to. If you don't like the merged result, you can always return to the original publication.

And there you have it. You’ve just created several personalized greeting cards in a few easy steps.

Stella Chui
Software Design Engineer in Test

About the contributor: Stella Chui is a Software Development Engineer in Test on the Publisher team. She has worked for Microsoft for a whopping 5 months, and thinks that Nutella is the best thing since sliced bread. Uhh, after Mail Merge of course.

Comments (4)

  1. darcy says:

    i have set up my publication—4 labels per a sheet–but when i merge all 4 labels have the same address–is there a way to have each label have a different address?

    thank you!!

  2. Stella says:

    Yup, if you go to File -> Print Setup, you can change the printing options from "Multiple copies per sheet" to "Multiple pages per sheet". Each label should have a different address after you do this.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Maria says:

    how do I attach a seperate excel file to each recipient?

  4. Iris Sanders says:

    I want to print two cards per sheet, the sheet will end up being cut in half. I want to mail merge the receipient’s name on each card. I can’t find directions to do that.

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