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: Mail Merge and Data Source Documents become Unattached.

Mail Merge and Data Source Documents become Unattached

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 16, 2015)

Don creates quite a few mail merge documents in Word. The data source is invariably a Word document with the merge data in a table. Don can set up the mail merge document and the data source document very nicely, and everything works fine until he e-mails both documents to his clients. If the client opens the mail merge document, the data source document is no longer "attached," and the client has to go through the process of again letting Word know what to use as a data source. It doesn't matter how many times the client opens the main document; he must hunt for and "re-attach" the data source's file every single time. When Don opens the same mail merge document on my system, the data source is still associated, just as it should be.

This problem is probably related to the location of the data source document relative to the mail merge document. In earlier versions of Word, the program would assume many things about documents. For instance, if your mail merge and data source documents were in the same folder as each other, then Word would not store the full path name of the data source document with the mail merge document. Instead, it would simply store the file name of the document, and leave it at that.

Later versions of Word have apparently changed what is saved. Now, instead of just saving the file name of the data source document, Word apparently saves the full path name to the document. This means that when you send the two documents to a client, the mail merge document won't be able to find the data source document unless it is in the same path structure that it was on your original system.

One place this becomes obvious is if, for instance, you store the data source document and the mail merge document in the My Documents folder on your system. When the files are sent to the client, if they are then stored in the client's My Documents folder, then there will be a problem. Why? Because the path to the client's My Documents folder is different than the path to the My Documents folder on the original machine.

To get around the problem, try storing both the mail merge document and the data source document in either the root directory of the C: drive, or in a folder within the C: drive. The client can then store the two files in the exact same location, and the connection between the two should remain intact when the mail merge document is opened.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (366) 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: Mail Merge and Data Source Documents become Unattached.

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 the Status Bar

When developing a macro, you may want to display on the status bar what the macro is doing. Here's how to use this important ...

Discover More

Quickly Adjusting Paragraph Spacing

Need to easily adjust the vertical spacing that follows a paragraph? You can do it using dialog boxes or you can create your ...

Discover More

Retrieving Web Query Data without Interruption

If you use Excel's Web Query tools to grab data from a website, you may run into some problems if the site isn't available ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Printing Portions of Mail Merged Documents

When you use a data source to create a bunch of documents in a mail merge, you might not want to print all the documents ...

Discover More

Speeding Up Mail Merges

The Mail Merge tool in Word is a great way to create new, customized documents. If you are doing a lot of merging, you may ...

Discover More

Data Source File in Word 2003

The security features introduced in Word 2003 resulted in a change in the dialog boxes you see when opening mail-merge source ...

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. 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 6 + 4?

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.