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Using Merge Fields

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 Merge Fields.

When you are creating your main mail merge document, you use merge fields to indicate where Word should insert information it extracts from your data source. Once you have started the mail merge process (as described in the previous tip), you can easily insert the appropriate merge fields. Again, how you do this depends on your version of Word.

If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, you use the tools on the Mail Merge toolbar. This toolbar appears automatically whenever you have opened a main mail merge document that has a data source attached to it. The two main buttons you will use are the following:

  • Insert Merge Field. This button allows you to select, by field header name, the information to be inserted in your finished document. For instance, if you have a field named LastName in your data source, you can select that field when you click your mouse on the Insert Merge Field button.
  • Insert Word Field. This button allows you to place other types of controlling fields in your document. These fields don't represent data, but instead control how Word creates the final document based on information in your data file. For instance, you can insert a conditional field that would check the value of a field in your data source and only include information if a certain condition was met.

If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, then you choose what to include from the options presented in the task pane. If you want to insert a merge field, you click on the More Items link to see which merge fields are available. In reality, it is easier to just display the Mail Merge toolbar in Word 2002 or Word 2003, and then use the tools available there. Choose Toolbars from the View menu, and then choose Mail Merge. You can then insert fields just as you would in Word 97 or Word 2000.

The best way to learn how to use merge fields is by experimenting. Try using different fields and see what happens. You can learn quite a bit this way, and you will be happier with the resulting merged documents.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1370) 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 Merge Fields.

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