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: Proper Comparisons for Dates in Merge Fields.

Proper Comparisons for Dates in Merge Fields

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 10, 2017)

Volker is having a problem comparing dates in a merge field. His database contains a Birthdate field, which (obviously) contains a birth date for each person in the database. As he merges each record, he wants to compare the Birthdate field to a reference date, and then take some action based on the result. The logic he is attempting to use looks like this:

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate} > "02/26/1981" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

The problem is that the comparison doesn't work properly; it doesn't return consistent results. One possible solution is to use a format switch in the merge field, in the following manner:

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate\@"MM/DD/YYYY"} > "02/26/1981" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

This puts the incoming information into a comparable format. The results you get from this approach may depend, however, on characteristics of the data source, independent of Word. You could also try putting the dates into a year-first format, such as the following:

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate\@"YYYY/MM/DD"} > "2011/02/26" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

If the comparison still yields inconsistent results, then the only solution may be to do a mathematical conversion on the date (actually, on both Birthdate and the reference date) so that you have an actual numeric comparison. You can do this by converting the date into a Julian value, which requires a very complex merge field, like the one shown here:

{IF {QUOTE {SET a{=INT((14-{MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ M})/12)}}
{SET b{={MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ yyyy}+4800-a}}
{SET c{={MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ M}+12*a-3}}
{SET d{MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ d}}
{SET jd{=d+INT((153*c+2)/5)+365*b+INT(b/4)-INT(b/100)+INT(b/400)-32045}}
{jd \#,0}} > 2,443,056 "over 30" "under30"}

Such an approach may look intimidating, but is just the brute-force method necessary for some instances.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (356) 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: Proper Comparisons for Dates in Merge Fields.

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

Picking a Contiguous Range of Cells

There are a variety of ways to pick a range of cells in Excel. Here are three of them you'll find useful.

Discover More

More than Three Conditional Formats

Conditional formatting is a great feature for making the data in your worksheets more understandable and usable. What if you ...

Discover More

Changing Excel's Starting Date

When keeping track of dates, internally, Excel uses special date serial numbers that are based upon a specific day in the ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Controlling Date Formats in a Mail Merge

One of the data sources that Word allows you to use for your mail merges is an Excel worksheet. You may get unexpected ...

Discover More

Wrong Values Merged from Excel

When you use an Excel workbook as a data source for your merged document, you may be surprised if what is merged doesn't ...

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
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 6Mpixels. 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 seven less than 7?

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.