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With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company.
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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: Using Mail Merge to Complete Documents.
Word's mail-merge feature is most often used to create what used to be called "form letters" or to create labels from a list of individual pieces of data. Another use for mail merge, however, is to use it to help create complete documents from a group of individual pieces. You can use mail merge to easily complete standard documents that have well-defined items that must be changed each time the document is composed.
Over time you might develop source documents to use with your business. For instance, if your business involves estate planning, you might develop documents dealing with powers of appointment, health care directives, trust agreements, wills, real estate deeds, etc. Each document could have many of the same elements: names of parties (such as document creators, beneficiaries, and trustees), dates, addresses (counties, cities, streets, states, ZIP Codes), genders, etc. Since those elements are common, it seems logical to place merge fields in those spots in the documents where the common elements are required.
You can then create a data input file that consists of a Word table with the specifics for each client. This information can be easily put on a CD and kept in a client's folder. A macro, initiated by simple, easily remembered key combinations, could then be used to create the final merged document.
The benefit is that an approach like this allows you to create whole sets of documents in short order. By using mail merge in this manner, you can produce exactly what you need very quickly. For instance, if you were (again) in the estate planning business, you might be able to create a rather lengthy death tax efficient trust agreement, one or more wills, powers of appointment, sets of health care directives, lists of instructions and sample letters, and other related documents in less that half an hour.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1307) 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: Using Mail Merge to Complete Documents.
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