For a very long time, Microsoft Word has included templates for printable label sheets as well as for common documents such as letters. With label layouts for the various vendors, Word can either print a single entry onto a particular label or produce an entire sheet of labels all at once.
If you have a list of contacts in your Outlook address book or an Excel spreadsheet or Access database, Mail Merge can import the information to create a series of labels automatically. Alternatively, you can create your own mailing list directly in Word during Mail Merge. Microsoft's Mail Merge isn't magic, but it can work almost that fast.
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Obviously, Mail Merge includes tons of benefits for mailing houses and large corporations conducting mass mailings. But it's even very handy for ordinary folk. If you no longer need to hand address each envelope, your family might get back in the spirit of sending out beautiful (paper-based) holiday cards each December. If you help to run the local PTA or a Scout troop, Mail Merge could come in very handy for sending out fliers.
How Does Mail Merge Work?
There are three documents involved in a mail merge. When it comes to labels, the main document is the one you use to set up the layout, including a company logo or your return address on shipping labels, if you want to include these. Your mailing list, which contains the addresses to be printed on the labels, is the data source. These two documents, combined, produce the address labels. Here's a diagram:
There are some unexpected "gotchas."
If you're using Excel, Outlook, or Access as a data source, for example, you need to heed certain rules which might not be immediately obvious. For example, when using an Excel spreadsheet, you need to make sure that the column for ZIP Codes or postal codes is formatted as text so that you don't lose any zeros.
Also, you can't use your Outlook contacts as your data source unless you've made Outlook your default email program.
It can be simpler to just use Word as your data source, especially if you are experienced with Word but aren't deeply knowledgeable about Microsoft's other office productivity tools.
Here's how you can quickly create and print basic mailing labels in most editions of Word, all within Word, without going through the more time consuming full Step By Step Mail Merge Wizard routine.
Step 1. Prepare the main document for the labels
In Word, go to the File menu. Select New Document and then Blank Document.
in the Mailings tab, go to the Start Mail Merge group and choose Start Mail Merge, Labels. In the Label Options dialog box, check off whether you plan to use a continuous feed or sheetfed printer.
Then under Label Information, choose your label vendor and the product number that corresponds to the package of labels you'll be using. Press OK.
Step 2. Set up the mailing list in Word
Go to Select Recipients and choose Type a New List.
In the New Address List dialog box that appears, type information for each member of your mailing list in each column as appropriate. (We've done this below with a short list of fictional characters.)
Use the Tab key To either move from one column to the next or advance to the next row in the table. To create a new row in the table, choose New Entry or press ALT+N.
An easy-to-use feature called Customize Columns gives you a lot of flexibility over the info to include in your mailing labels. As indicated below, you can remove columns such as Title or Address Line 2. You might as well remove phone numbers and email addresses, too, as these aren't commonly needed on address labels, anyway.
Also in Customize Columns, you can add new columns, rename existing columns, or change the order of columns on the list. After you've made all the changes you want to columns, choose OK.
When you're done adding all the people you want to your list, click OK.
In the Save Address List dialog box, give your new file a name, and then choose Save.
After you've added all addresses to your mailing list, you'll ultimately end up with a list of Mail Merge Recipients that looks kind of like this:
Step 4. Add the addresses to your labels
Word doesn't necessarily know how you wish your labels to be designed. In the next step, go to Address Block to define where the addresses should appear on the labels.
After selecting Address block, click OK. Word will insert the address block in the first address label on the page. After that, select Update all labels to replicate the address book on all labels throughout the page.
Step 5. Preview and print your labels
On the Preview Results page, you should see a preview of all the addresses on the page.
If everything looks up to snuff, go to Finish & Merge to print out your labels. If you've run into any snafus, or if you've decided you want fancier-looking labels, go back to the File menu and start a new Blank Document.
Return to the Start Mail Merge group, this time selecting the wizard--the one in Mail Merge, of course, not the one in Dorothy's Land of Oz.