Perform a Word mail merge with Outlook Contacts

This tip explains how to pull customized content from Outlook Contacts' into a Word mail merge.

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As much as you live in a paperless world, there are times when you simply can't get around printing a hard copy of a document and snail mailing it to someone. Normally, this isn't a big deal. That can change though if you have to send copies to a lot of different people, because you don't want to have to manually address them all. That's when it becomes helpful to print documents from Word that are auto-filled from Outlook Contacts.

Step 1: Set up a Contacts folder and have it displayed as an e-mail address book:

  1. Select the Contacts option in Outlook.

  2. Locate the list of Contacts folders. (If you need to create a special subfolder, right click on the main Contacts subfolder and select the New Folder command.)

  3. Right click on the desired folder and select Properties.

  4. Next, select the Outlook Address Book tab from the folder's Properties sheet.

  5. Select the 'Show This Folder As An E-Mail Address Book' checkbox.

  6. Click OK.

Step 2: Perform the actual mail merge:

  1. Open Microsoft Word and select Tools -> Letters and Mailings -> Mail Merge.

  2. Word's task pane will appear and ask you what type of document you are working on. Since you are dealing with printed material in this case, choose the Letters option and click Next.

  3. You will be prompted to select the starting document. You have a choice of using the Current Document, an Existing Document, or a Template. For the purpose of this tutorial, choose the Current Document option and click Next.

  4. It's time to select the recipients of the letter that you are creating. Choose the 'Select From Outlook Contacts' option.

  5. Don't click next here. Choose the Contacts Folder option instead..

  6. You will see a list of contact folders within your Outlook profile (you will get a chance to choose profiles if you use multiple profiles). Make your selection and click OK.

  7. You will see a list of all of the contacts within your chosen folder. Select the desired contacts and click OK followed by Next.

    At this point, you will have the opportunity to write your letter. Word allows you to insert various items from your Contacts list into the letter by clicking the objects in the task pane. By default, you can insert an address block, a greeting line, electronic postage, or a postage bar code.

    I have always found it easier though to use the More Items option instead though. This option allows you to choose individual fields, such as first name, last name, city, state, zip code, etc. It gives you a lot more control over your letter than just inserting a generic address block or greeting line.

  8. When you are all done, click Next to preview your letter.

  9. If everything looks good here, click Next again to complete the merge.

  10. Finally, click Print to print the letters that you have created.

About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer he has written for Microsoft, CNET, ZDNet, TechTarget, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies. You can visit Brien's personal Web site at http://www.brienposey.com.


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This was first published in February 2005

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