Word: Use Directory Grouping Features in Letter Mail Merge

This post is about an interesting problem that came to me by e-mail about a mail merge problem in Microsoft Word.

Someone from a training company wanted to send out summary data about in-progress courses to every student by e-mail. As every message would require a number of different records, it seemed logical to use the 'Directory' option. That wasn't a good solution, however, as the sender wanted to be able to use the e-mail integration features of the 'Letter' option. Here's how to use some 'Directory' features using 'Letters'.

1- Start a mail merge document using the 'Letters' option, and set up everything in your letter (including the data source).

2 - Go to the Insert Field dialog box (not a mail merge field, but just the regular fields) and choose 'Database' from the categories. Click on the 'Insert Database' button.


3 - Click on the 'Get Data' button, and choose the same data source that you used for your mail merge.

4 - Click on the 'Query Options...' button. Go to the Select Fields tab and make sure the right-hand list contains only those fields that you want to see in the table.


5 - Click on the 'Filter Records' button, and set up a criteria for the UserID field to be 'Equal to' arealuserid (choose any existing UserID and put it here - you will change this later, so it doesn't matter which one you pick). Click the 'OK' button.


6 - Click on the 'Insert Data...' button, and place a checkmark in the 'Insert data as field' checkbox. Click the 'OK' button.


7 - Now you should be back in your document, and you'll see a table there that shows the records for the UserID you chose. Press Alt+F9, and you'll be able to see the field codes. It will probably look like a mess. That's a good thing.


8 - Look right near the bottom of all of that code, and you will see a SELECT statement. In this statement, highlight where you had entered a random UserID, and now go up to your toolbar and insert the UserID mail merge field. What you're doing is setting the criteria to be equal to whichever UserID is currently being used for the mail merge. Make sure you keep the single quotes around the mail merge field and are only replacing the actual UserID.


9 - At this point, you might want to hit Alt+F9 again to stop seeing all of that code. Try to finish your mail merge, and you should see separate tables for each individual letter.

                10 comments:

                1. Great tutorial, thanks a lot for sharing!

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                  1. Thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you liked it.

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                2. This was very helpful. I was able to follow your instructions with no problem. However, I did run into an issue when trying to email. If I had a User that had 3 courses, Word would send 3 emails to that User with the same content. It sends an email for each course. Have you ever ran into that?

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                  1. It sounds like it's grouping by course instead of grouping by user. It's hard to say without knowing what your data source and merge document look like, but I would have the data source sorted by user and then by course.

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                3. Very helpful article and definitely a time saver over other methods I have used in the past. Thanks!

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                4. Great solution to a problem I'd only ever found clumsy solutions to before!
                  If you don't want the grouping field to be repeated I found it necessary to have a query which just returned UserID and then the data source with the remaining fields you want to display in the table for each UserID for the Insert database.
                  Is there a way to define formatting in the database table, e.g. column headers in bold, which get repeated in the resulting merge for all UserIDs?

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                  1. Thanks, Cecil! I'm not sure if I completely understand what you're asking about in terms of the formatting definitions, but are you aware of the ability to use IF statements in mail merge? There's a pretty good article here that covers the basics: http://word.mvps.org/faqs/mailmerge/mmergeiffields.htm

                    Sometimes I use IF statements in mail merge documents to force extra formatting or to handle certain pieces of data differently.

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                5. nice share
                  thanks for information

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                6. This is great and worked perfectly except now, I don't know how to format the switches in the database side of the mail merge. Numbers displayed to the 13th decimal and I only need it to the 2nd. HELP!

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