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: Formatted Merging.

Formatted Merging

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 11, 2012)

When you use Word's merge tool, the information merged into a main document assumes the formatting applied in that main document. The formatting of information in the data source has no effect. Most of the time this is a desirable thing; the information in the data source could have some bizarre formatting that you don't want applied in your main document.

There are times, however, when this may not be desirable. For instance, say one of the merge fields is a company name, and you want some of the companies to be shown in bold in your main document, and other companies to be shown in regular text. Even if you make some of the companies bold in the data source, Word ignores the formatting when it does the merge with your main document.

Unfortunately, Word doesn't provide a magic switch that you can use with the company merge field to force the formatting in the data source to be used. This can be worked around with a little ingenuity and the use of Word's conditional IF field. Follow these steps to achieve the desired results:

  1. In your data source file, add another field called "FormatBold." You can actually name it anything you like; the purpose of the field is to indicate which companies should be formatted as bold when merged into the main document.
  2. For each company's record where you want the company name in bold, enter a "Y" or "yes" (be consistent) in the FormatBold field.
  3. Open the main document.
  4. At the point where you want the company name to appear in the document, insert a pair of field braces by pressing Ctrl+F9.
  5. Type IF followed by a space.
  6. Insert the new merge field you added to the data source (FormatBold).
  7. Type a space, followed by the equal sign (=) followed by "yes" or "Y" (in quotes), followed by another space. (Make sure you use the same "yes" or "Y" convention you used in step 2.)
  8. Turn on bold formatting (press Ctrl+B).
  9. Insert the company merge field followed by a space.
  10. Turn off bold formatting (again press Ctrl+B), and insert the company merge field again.

At this point, the entire compound merge field should look like the following. (If you can't see all the merge fields for some reason, select the text and press Alt+F9.)

{ IF { MERGEFIELD FormatBold } = "yes" { MERGEFIELD Company } { MERGEFIELD Company } }

Of course, the first occurrence of { MERGEFIELD Company } will be bold, and the second will not. What this field does is to check the contents of the FormatBold merge field. If it is set to "yes" then Word inserts the first Company MERGEFIELD (the bold one), otherwise the second (nonbold one) is inserted. Either way, some of your merge documents will have the company name bold, and others will not.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1321) 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: Formatted Merging.

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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