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: Can't Merge Alphanumeric Data Correctly.

Can't Merge Alphanumeric Data Correctly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 14, 2017)

Dave is having a problem getting data in an Excel worksheet to merge successfully into a Word document. The original Excel file had fields like Job Number and Truck Number. In the merge file he wanted the value of these fields to display unless the field was blank, in which case he wanted some underscore characters displayed. Dave used the following as his merge field:

{IF{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}="" "________" "{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}"}

When both the Job Number or Truck Number fields used the General format, and contained only digits, this worked fine; Dave got the numbers (or underlines when the field was blank). Then his data changed and he had job and truck numbers with alphanumeric characters. When doing the merge, the number 0 displayed in the merge in any place where the job or truck number contained alphanumerics. Thus, the merges now produced 0 in place of alphanumeric fields and Dave never got underlines; only numeric fields (or numeric fields formatted as Text) merge properly.

There are a couple of things Dave can try in this situation. The first is to modify, slightly, the merge field. If the merge is grabbing zero values instead of blanks, then you can change the test so it checks for zeroes, as shown here:

{IF{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}="0" "________" "{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}"}

Now, if Excel is really transferring zeroes in place of blank fields (or Word is interpreting blanks as zeroes), the test will be positive and you will get the underlines you want.

Another thing to check out is the formatting on the data that is being imported. Beginning with Word 2002 (well, with Office XP really), Microsoft changed which "end" of the merge pair was responsible for formatting. When merging from Excel, it used to be that Excel was responsible for formatting. Beginning with Office XP, the responsibility shifted to Word. This means that the complexity of the merge fields can increase dramatically in order to get the desired results.

A great resource on how to handle formatting in merge fields is found at this Web page:

http://www.gmayor.com/formatting_word_fields.htm

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (312) 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: Can't Merge Alphanumeric Data Correctly.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using Relative HTML Font Sizes in Word 2000

How to remove the Word specific HTML codes in your Web document.

Discover More

Removing All Text Boxes In a Document

Text boxes are a common element of many types of documents. At some point you may want to get rid of all the text boxes in a ...

Discover More

Removing Styles from the Quick Access Toolbar

Got something on the Quick Access Toolbar that you don't need there any more? Here are two quick ways to get rid of that ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Using Unique Document Serial Numbers

If you need to include serial numbers in your printed matter (labels, letters, documents, etc.), the best way is through the ...

Discover More

Merging Only a Date from Access

When you are merging data from an Access database, you may get more information than you want, especially when it comes to ...

Discover More

Creating Files with Mail Merge

When you use mail merge to create a document that incorporates all your data source records, you end up with a large document ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight less than 9?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.