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Printing Portions of Mail Merged Documents

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Printing Portions of Mail Merged Documents.

When you use the mail merge feature of Word, you have the capability to either merge to the printer or to merge to a new document. Choosing the latter is often the best alternative, since you have the ability to inspect your output before actually printing.

What happens if you need to only print a portion of your merged documents, however? For instance, if your merged document takes 320 pages, and you only need to print the last 15 of them? You might think the answer to print only a range of pages, meaning pages 305-320.

If you try to do this with a mail-merged document, you will not get an expected result. In fact, you will get no result at all. This is because Word inserts a section break between each merged record it adds to your document. Thus, if you are printing 320 copies of a single-paged document, you have 320 page ones, not pages 1 through 320.

Sound confusing? It can be if you don't understand how sections work. Every time a new section is started, Word starts counting page numbers over again. To get around this problem, you have three alternatives. First, you can simply start deleting pages until you only have your desired pages remaining. (I call this the brute force method, and it is not always the best choice.) Second, you can simply replace all the section breaks in the merged document with line breaks. This is done by following these steps:

  1. Choose the Replace option from the Edit menu, or press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. In the Find What box, enter ^b. This is the code for a section break.
  4. Click on the No Formatting button, if it is available. This removes any formatting specifications in what you are searching for. (You may need to click on the More button to see the No Formatting button.)
  5. In the Replace With box, enter ^m. This is the code for a page break.
  6. Click on the No Formatting button, if it is available. This removes any formatting specifications in what you are replacing with.
  7. Click on Replace All.

Now you can print as normal, entering a range of page numbers you want to print.

The third solution is perhaps the fastest and easiest, however. Simply remember that in your merged document you are working with sections, instead of pages. Thus, if you want to print out the form letter for records 305 through 320, you would follow these steps:

  1. Choose Print from the File menu. Word displays the Print dialog box.
  2. In the Pages box, enter s305-s320. Note the inclusion of the "s." This indicates you are specifying a section range, as opposed to a normal page range.
  3. Click on OK. Your desired information is printed.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1126) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Printing Portions of Mail Merged Documents.

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