Monday, September 21, 2009

How to Create a Mail Merge- Printing Your Own Envelopes & Labels

In a few previous blog posts I've referred to doing "a mail merge" when creating your own envelopes or labels. If you've never done a mail merge before, this post is for you! Here's a step by step guide to creating your own printer labels, though this same technique could be used to print directly on envelopes, or even used to print variable data in standard documents as well.

1. Create a spreadsheet using a program like Microsoft Excel. For envelope addressing, I usually like to include columns as follows: 1st line guest (Which could be Mr. & Mrs. Bob Smith, if the names aren't too long and will fit on the line), 2nd line guest (Usually a guest of the person invited who's name you can't fit on the first line. Could also list "& Family for entire families that are invited), Street, Street Cont'd (for apartment numbers, etc), City, State and Zip Code. Granted, you could make the columns to suite your preference, I just find the described method works best for me. When your guest list spreadsheet is completed, save it.

2. Open Microsoft Word. Go to the Mailings Tab and select "Start Mail Merge". When asked what you want to merge, for this example select "Labels".

3. Then select "Select Recipients" and choose "Use Existing List".

4. Using the explorer window, find the spreadsheet you created in Step One and select it.

        5. Select the tab of the spreadsheet you have your guest list on. In most cases it's the first tab.

        6. The cells of the printer label sheet will then auto populate with some data. You want to build the way your address labels will look in the top, left hand cell first. You'll be able to copy this format to other cells later. Put your cursor in the top left hand cell. Then select "Insert Merge Field" and then highlight your first column title.

        7. Repeat Step 6, but include the other column titles. You'll want to insert the column titles as if you were actually laying out the address. For example:

        1st Line Guest
        2nd Line Guest
        Address One
        Address Two
        City, State Zip

        Also be sure if you want the format to have any punctuation, like the coma between City and State, that you manually type that in prior to importing in the State merge field.
        By importing in these titles, what the program will then do is pull the data below those column headers into each individual cell of the label printout sheet (or on the actual envelope if you set it up that way).

        8. Next you'll want to format the fonts and such to your tastes. Do so by selecting all the cells and then making the changes you like. For this example, I'm going to make the font Copperplate Light, center the text and reduce the space between the lines. You do all of this the same way you would editing a standard Microsoft Word Document.

        9. When you have everything formatted the way you like, then select "Update Labels". This will import all the modifications you made to the top left hand cell, and copy it into all the other cells on the merge document.

        10. Then select "Preview Results" to see an example of what your label sheet will look like after you merge it. You want to do this to be sure everything is formatted the way you like and that all the data from your spreadsheet imports correctly.

        11. After you've checked the preview, you can then either select "Finish and Merge" and select the Edit Individual Documents option (which will create a brand new Word Document you can then edit further and print from there) or Print Documents to just go ahead and merge and print in one step. If taking the latter option, be sure you're printer is loaded with your labels (or envelopes if going that route)!

        Learning to use the Mail Merge function in the Microsoft Office Suite takes some getting used to, but once you do it makes life much, much easier. If you have any questions on using the function or if I may have missed something in this tutorial, please feel free to drop me a line.

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