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: Maintaining Leading Zeroes.

Maintaining Leading Zeroes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Suzanne has an Excel worksheet containing addresses. The ZIP Codes are formatted via the special Excel formatting that maintains leading zeroes. However, when she uses mail merge in Word, the leading zeroes are dropped.

There are several ways you can approach this problem. You could, for instance, go into Excel and create a new column that contains text versions of the numeric ZIP Codes. Here's a handy Excel formula to use to accomplish this:

=RIGHT("00000" & A1, 5)

If you put this formula in a column that has been formatted as text (and the ZIP Code is in cell A1), you end up with text that contains the leading zeroes. You can then use this new column in your merge in Word.

If you don't want to edit the original Excel data, then you should stick with making your changes in the Word merge document. Take a look at the document; it contains merge fields that indicate where the merged data will be placed. These fields also indicate how the merged data should be treated. If you select the merge field for the ZIP Code, you can expand it by pressing Shift+F9. You should see the underlying code that makes up the field. You can then modify the field code so it looks similar to this:

{ MERGEFIELD "Zip" \# 00000-0000 }

The name within the quote marks ("Zip") may well be different; it represents the name of the column in the Excel worksheet that needs to be merged. The important part is to add the formatting switch (\#) followed by the pattern to be used for formatting the merged data. When you are done making the change to the field, you can press Shift+F9 again to collapse the field, and then do your merge.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (324) 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: Maintaining Leading Zeroes.

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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