Perform a Microsoft Word Mail Merge from Within Excel

Learn to merge data from Excel into Word

The mail merge feature in Microsoft Word and Excel simplifies the process of sending the same document — but with personalized changes — to several recipients. In a mail merge, one document (a letter, for example) is combined with a data source document, such as a spreadsheet. Here's how to do it.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.

Prepare the Data for Mail Merge

The Word mail merge feature works seamlessly with data from Excel. While you can create a data source in Word, options for using this data are limited. If you have mailing list data in a spreadsheet, don't retype the information into Word's data source.

Any Excel worksheet can be in a Word mail merge function without any special preparation. However, prepare the worksheet to optimize the mail merge process.

Screenshot of Excel showing data ready to be merged in Word

Organize the Spreadsheet Data

Organize your Excel mailing list data into rows and columns. Think of each row as a single record and each column as a field you are going to insert into your document.

If you need a refresher, check out an Excel data-entry tutorial.

Create a Header Row

Create a header row for the sheet you intend to use for the mail merge. A header row is a row containing labels that identify the data in the cells beneath it. To make it easy for Excel to differentiate between data and labels, use bold text, cell borders, and cell shading that are unique to the header row.

Header row in Excel

Later, when you merge the mailing list data with the main document, the labels appear as the names of the merge fields. This eliminates any confusion as to what data is inserted into your document.

Label the columns in your Excel worksheet. It helps prevent errors in the future.

Put All Data on a Single Sheet

The mailing list data you intend to use for the mail merge must be on one sheet. If it's spread across multiple sheets, combine the sheets or perform multiple mail merges. Also, make sure the sheets are clearly named, as you have to select the one you intend to use without being able to view it.

Associate a Data Source in a Mail Merge

Here's how to associate your prepared Excel worksheet containing your mailing list with your Word document:

  1. In Word, select Mailings > Start Mail Merge.

    Start Mail Merge button in Word
  2. Choose the kind of merge you want to run.

  3. Go to the Mailings tab and select Select Recipients > Use an Existing List.

    Use an Existing List menu option in Word
  4. Find your Excel file, then select Open.

  5. If Word prompts you, choose Sheet1$ > OK.

If your Excel has column headers, select the First row of data contains column headers check box.

Edit the Mailing List

With your Excel spreadsheet connected to the mail merge document you’re creating in Word, it's time to edit your Word document.

You can't make changes to your data source in Excel at this time. To make changes to the data, close the document in Word before opening the data source in Excel.

Insert Merge Fields into Your Document

In Word, select Mailings > Insert Merge Field to pull information from the spreadsheet into the document. Choose the field you want to add (first name, last name, city, state, or other), then select Insert.

Screenshot of Excel showing the insertion of Merge Fields

View Mail Merge Documents

Word doesn't carry over formatting from the data source when inserting merge fields into a document. If you want to apply formatting such as italics, bold, or underline, do it in Word.

When viewing the document with fields, select the double arrows on both sides of the field where you want to apply the formatting. When viewing the merged data in the document, highlight the text you wish to change.

Any formatting changes are carried throughout all the merged documents, not only the individual one.

Preview the Merged Documents

To preview the merged documents, go to the Mailings tab and select Preview Results. This button works like a toggle switch, so if you want to go back to viewing only the fields and not the data they contain, press it again.

Navigate through the merged documents using the buttons on the Mailings tab. They are, from left to right: First RecordPrevious RecordGo To RecordNext Record, and Last Record.

GIF showing data merged into Word

Before you merge the documents, preview them all, or as many as you can, to verify that everything merged correctly. Pay particular attention to punctuation and spacing around the merged data.

Finalize the Mail Merge Document

When you're ready to merge the documents, you have two choices:

  • Print Documents: Merge the documents to the printer. If you choose this option, the documents are sent to the printer without any modification. To do this, select Mailings > Finish & Merge > Print Documents
  • Edit Individual Documents: If you need to personalize some or all of the documents (an alternative is to add a note field in the data source for personalized notes) or make other changes before you print, edit each individual document. To do this, select Mailings > Finish & Merge > Edit Individual Documents.
Screenshot of Word showing the Print option for Mail Merge

Whichever method you choose, you are presented with a dialog box where you can tell Word to merge all records, the current record, or a range of records. Choose the records you want to print, then select OK.

If you want to merge a range, enter the beginning number and the final number for the records you want to include in the merge, then select OK.