mail merge

A Note To Future Melisa Re: Mail Merges

Dear Future Melisa,

Mail merges, huh? They’re hard for us, for some reason. Each and every year when it’s time to get the holiday cards done and out, we pull up the handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet that has all of the addresses on it, updated throughout the year, and get ready to create labels in Word. And then, we go through an infuriating ritual.

Mail merge time
Every. Single. Year.

Looking it up online and then still messing up the process somehow turns what should be a joyful task (“Holiday cards to loved ones! Yay!”) into an absolute chore (“I am going to scream and possibly toss my laptop across the room if I can’t get this mail merge going!”).

The annoyance is always temporary, because–luckily–we’re smart and eventually figure it out. But I’m here to remind you how to do it with just twelve easy steps. You’ll probably still have to look it up online, dang it, but at least it’ll be on your own site, in your own words. You’ll likely save minutes of frustration this way, so…winning!

Here’s how YOU do a mail merge and create labels in Word from an Excel spreadsheet:

  1. Make final changes to the Excel spreadsheet and save. I know you are very good at saving and always do so after making any change to that spreadsheet, but humor me. Save.
  2. Open Word. (Obviously.)
  3. Click the “Mailings” tab and select “Start Mail Merge.” Then “Labels”. Lean back, crack your knuckles. It’s all going to be okay this time.
  4. Make sure the labels it wants to create are 30 per page and click “Ok.” By the way, did you buy a new package of clear address labels? You’re probably out.
  5. Click “Select Recipients” and then “Use an existing list.”
  6. Choose the Excel file and then, when it asks you if you’re sure you want to open it, say yes. Duh.
  7. Open Workbook? OK.
  8. Click “Write & Insert Fields” and then “Insert Merge Fields”.
  9. Add First Name, Last Name, Address, City, State, and Zip fields on their respective lines, making sure to add spaces between the fields and a comma after the city.
  10. Click “Preview results” and one label will show up, complete.
  11. THIS IS WHERE YOU ALWAYS MESS UP: Make sure to click “Update Labels.” When you don’t do that, you will continue to see one label and one label only. Burn this into your brain. UPDATE LABELS. Dang.
  12. Click “Finish and Merge.” VOILA! DONE. Relief. Pat yourself on the back. Yay!
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I mean it’s right THERE, for God’s sake.
Also? Clean your laptop screen, Future Missy. It’s filthy.

Good job, you! I mean, good job, me! You did it. Now go sign those holiday cards, label and stamp them, and put them in the mail so you can get started baking cookies! See you right here, this time next year!

I love you! You’re awesome!

Love, Past Melisa