Selecting a Starting Document

Your next step in merging a document is to choose or create the document you will use as your main document. This, again, is the document that contains any boilerplate text that should appear in all your merged documents and instructions about which kinds of information should be merged into them (known as mail-merge fields). Typically, Word gives you three choices (see Figure 17.3):

  • If you choose Use the Current Document, you can go on immediately to select your document's recipients. In fact, you must?Word 2003 doesn't allow you to edit your current document until you've done so.

  • If you choose Start from Existing Document, Word displays a list of any mail-merge documents you've worked with recently. If the document you want is not on that list, click Open; then browse to and select the document you want. Word 2003 can use mail-merge main documents built with Word 2002, 2000, Word 98 for the Macintosh, Word 97, Word 95, Word 6 for Windows and the Macintosh, and Word 2. It can also use documents from even older versions of Word, which may use DATA fields to identify their data sources.

  • If you choose Start from a Template, you can then click select Template to choose from the mail-merge templates Word makes available for letters, faxes, and address lists (see Figure 17.4). Several of these templates are similar to Word's Letter & Faxes templates, with the addition of built-in mail-merge fields that simplify the process of building a mail merge.

    Figure 17.4. Choosing one of Word 2003's mail-merge templates.


Figure 17.3. Choosing which document to use for your merge.



If you plan to create several mailings to the same set of individuals, consider saving your finished mail-merge document as a template. The finished document not only contains your text, but also reflects the settings you've created by walking through the Mail Merge Wizard's steps?such as your database connections and the specific individuals who receive your message.


If you turn an existing document into a mail-merge main document and later want to turn it back into a regular document, click Main Document Setup on the Mail Merge toolbar, choose Normal Word Document, and click OK.

Setting Options for Envelopes or Labels

If you are merging labels or envelopes, and your current document is not in a label or envelope format, the Use the Current Document option is grayed out and unavailable. Start from Current Document is replaced with Change the Current Document. If you choose this option, Word replaces the contents of your current document with a generic label or envelope format that you can adjust immediately.

The Mail Merge Wizard task pane presents a new blue hyperlink: for envelopes, Envelope Options, and for labels, Label Options. When you click this option, Word displays the Envelope Options or Label Options dialog box, as appropriate. Here, you can establish detailed settings for your labels or envelopes.

These dialog boxes are covered in detail in Chapter 6, "Printing and Faxing in Word." To learn more about label options, see the section "Printing Labels," p. 213. To learn more about envelope options, see the section "Changing Envelope Formatting," p. 210.

After you've selected a main document of any kind or created a new one from a template, click Next: Select Recipients.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word