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Converting WordPerfect Labels to Word

If you have a bunch of labels in a WordPerfect file, you may be searching for a way to easily convert those labels to a Word document that can then be used as a data source for a mail merge. Such a task, depending on the number of labels in the file, can appear rather daunting.

The conversion process can be made much easier if you remember a couple of things. First of all, you must remember that the information in a Word data source is expected to be in a table with column headings. Second, remember that label files in WordPerfect are in a text-only format; they are not in a format that can be automatically translated into a Word table.

With these two items in mind, it should become clear that all you need to do is convert the original text in the WordPerfect file into tabular text in the Word file. Let's say that you have information in the WordPerfect label file, such as this:

John Davis
1234 Maple Lane
Anytown, USA 55555
Betty Jones
122 Main Street
Seventh Floor
Mytown, USA 55555
Bill Taylor
345 Industrial Way
Yourtown, USA 55555

There are several things to notice about this file. First, there is a carriage return (Enter was pressed) at the end of each line within an address. Second, there are two carriage returns (Enter was pressed twice) between labels. (In examining your label file, you may find that there is more than one blank line between some labels. That is OK.)

There is no "magic wand" that you can wave to turn information such as this into a Word table; it will take some work and massaging on your part. You can start by following these general steps:

  1. Using Word's Find and Replace feature, replace ^p^p (two paragraph marks) with something unique, such as [{}] (nested braces and brackets). If, when looking at the label data, you noticed that some labels were separated by two blank lines, then replace ^p^p^p (three paragraph marks) with the braces and brackets before doing the replace of two paragraph marks. The idea is to make sure that only a single [{}] sequence separates each label.
  2. Replace ^p (a single paragraph mark) with ^t (a tab character). This places a tab character between each line of your labels.
  3. If the only place in your labels where commas appear is after the city name, then replace ", " (comma and a space, without the quote marks) with ^t (a tab character). This puts a tab character between the city name and the state name. (You should be careful doing this, because it could be that your data contains commas in names—John Davis, Jr.—or in address lines—122 Main St., Suite 27—and you don't want to mess those up.)
  4. Replace [{}] (the unique sequence you used in step 1) with ^p (a single paragraph mark). After this operation, the only place you should have a paragraph mark is at the end of each label.
  5. Select all the label data.
  6. Choose Table | Convert | Text to Table to display the Convert Text to Table dialog box. Make sure that you indicate that your text is to be separated at tabs (the Tabs option button at the bottom of the dialog box controls this), and then click on OK.

Your original labels should now be converted into a table. You are not quite done, however. Chances are good that you need to "clean up" some of your data. For instance, you may need to delete some empty table rows, or you may need to move information from column to column. (You typically need to do this if you have two address lines in some labels and only one in others.)

The final step is to make sure that you add a row at the very beginning of the table and add headings for each column. These should be generic headings, such as Name, Address1, Address2, etc.

Once your table is cleaned up and the header row is added, you can use it as a data source for a mail merge and create labels within Word.

If you would like more detailed information on how to convert from text labels to a data table in Word, check out this online resource:


WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1393) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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