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: Conditionally Adding a Period in a Mail Merge.

Conditionally Adding a Period in a Mail Merge

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 12, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Rose uses Word's mail-merge feature to create certificates. The source data is in an Access database, and sometimes the middle initial pulled from the database has a period after the initial and sometimes it doesn't. Rose is wondering if there is a way, in Word, to have the mail merge check for the trailing period on the data in the middle initial field and automatically add one if necessary.

Unfortunately, we couldn't come up with a way to do this. Word doesn't seem to have the capability to check for characters within the merged data on the fly. We did come up with a workaround, however. Open your merge document and, right after the merge field that inserts the middle initial, type a period. When you do your merge, some middle initials will have one period (if they had none in the data source) and others will have two (if they had one in the data source). All you then need to do is a Find and Replace operation, replacing all instances of two periods with a single period.

This may not be as "clean" as you desire; after all, it adds an extra step to your certificate preparation. It is easier, however, than manually going through the merged file and looking at each middle initial yourself.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (307) 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: Conditionally Adding a Period in a Mail Merge.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

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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