The Microsoft Office software suite has evolved significantly since it was first introduced in 1990. Popular software packages such as Excel and Word interact seamlessly with each other, opening up a wide array of tasks and functions that were previously difficult to accomplish.
Although Excel is considered to be primarily a database and spreadsheet management tool, this software package can also be used for additional tasks, including the creation of mailing labels. You can use the Mail Merge feature inside Microsoft Word to import data into Excel that can be converted into mailing labels. Completing this process requires a few steps, but they can be accomplished by individuals of all proficiencies and technological skill levels.
Prepare to Make Labels From Excel
The Mail Merge feature included in Microsoft Word makes it relatively simple to integrate the data you need to begin making mailing labels. However, before this data can be incorporated in Excel, you must format the table and cells in the Excel environment to match the specific framework of the Mail Merge process in Word.
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To get started, create and label column headers to reflect the data that will be imported from Word. These will include the following labels (or similar):
- First Name
- Last Name
Keep in mind that these labels will replace the basic columns 1 through 4 headings that are already being used. It is also important to note that you need to use a separate column for each of these data points. Failure to do so could result in some organizational problems at a later stage in the process.
At this phase of preparation, ensure that no empty rows and columns remain in your workspace. During the label creation process, these blank areas could create errors in formatting and stop all of your labels from being made.
Naming Your Address List
After your workspace has been properly formatted, the next step in the process is to locate the address list you will use. You can accomplish this by clearly defining the name for the list. To do so, select the complete address list you will be using, making sure to include all of the cells that contain headers. After doing so, open the Formulas tab, find the Defined Names group and select the Define Name option.
Once this is done, type in a custom name for the address list. This particular name is left to your discretion. If you are managing multiple address lists, choose something that is related to the specific names in the list and its intended function. After pressing OK, the new name for the list is attached to it.
Beginning the Merge
Before you can print labels from Excel, make sure all the address information merges successfully. To do so, complete the next series of steps within Microsoft Word. Open a blank document and navigate to the Mailings tab. Find the Start Mail Merge group and select the Start Mail Merge tab.
Within the drop-down menu that appears, select the Labels button and configure the various label options available to match your own setup. For example, you can select the specific printer type you will be using and identify a label vendor and product number. This information can prove to be particularly useful in the event you are collaborating with a third party who can use this data to quickly create the appropriate printing framework for your documents.
One important element of this step is selecting the appropriate dimensions for the label sheets. In the Product Number box, select the Details option and ensure that the listed dimensions match your labels and label sheets. If they do not, correct this information before you continue further with the process. Failure to do so could result in your final labels being printed incorrectly.
If you input your own dimensions and saved them, the specific label parameters will appear in the Other/Custom category within this window. Now that you have selected the appropriate label parameters, press OK to confirm your selections. Microsoft Word should automatically create a new table that generates the layout you have described.
Importing Data From Excel
Now that the appropriate frameworks have been established both in Word and Excel, it is the right time to begin the Merge. To do so, you first establish a connection between your labels and the address list you created and named in the previous steps. Within Word, select Options from the File menu and choose the Advanced tab. Find the section named General and choose the Confirm file format conversion on open and check the available box. Then, press OK to continue.
Next, select the Mailings tab, open the Start Mail Merge group, and click the Select Recipients option from the drop-down menu. Finally, click Use Existing List to continue the process.
A window appears in which you select the specific list you plan on using as part of the merge. At this point, take the time to locate the list you named earlier and then click the Select Data Source box. You are presented with a window in which you confirm the specific data source you are using. After clicking the Show all box, select the MS Excel Worksheets via DD option in the Open data source box before pressing OK.
As a final step, select the specific range of cells and/or worksheet featuring all the data you want to merge from the dialogue box that appears. Then, press OK.
Incorporating Placeholders With Your Labels
Now that the worksheet with the address information has been identified and linked to the labels, add specific placeholders that dictate how each address will appear on a label. These specific placeholders are also referred to as Mail Merge Fields. If there is any text that will be repeated on each label, you can also input this manually.
The reason behind creating these placeholders is significant. This specific information will choreograph the transfer of data from the address list into the table. The placeholders act as guides, partitioning the information and placing each element where it belongs within the framework of labels as a whole.
Moving Ahead With Label Creation
After creating the placeholders, double-check to ensure that Word has properly mapped each element of the placeholder to the corresponding data from the list. This can be accomplished using the Match Fields dialogue box. Here, users can specify how each placeholder is associated with data derived from the address list. For example, you can match the First Name placeholder to the First Name column inside the address list, ensuring that this data finds its way to the appropriate location on the label.
Keep in mind that some content, such as a greeting or a logo, will have to be added manually by you since it is not originally part of the address list. This can be accomplished relatively easily. Simply type the specific text you would like to use onto the label or add the image you want to incorporate as a logo or other media icon.
Take the time needed to ensure that your label is designed precisely how you like it before beginning the actual merge. This will ensure that you aren't forced to revise any of the content again if you accidentally forget to include key data or want to redesign the label.
After you confirm the look and feel of the label and double-check the accuracy of the placeholders and their relationship to data from the address list, you can continue.
Launching the Merge
To launch the merge, open the Home tab in Microsoft Word and press the Mail Merge button. If you currently are only planning to integrate specific contacts from the larger address list, you can select them here. However, if you want to integrate the entire list, press All Contacts in Current View. If you are prepared to use all the placeholders and fields that you designed for the label, click the All Contact Fields button, which appears in the next menu.
If you prefer to create an entirely new Word document for the Merge, you can do so by selecting the New document button. However, if you prefer to use the existing document, press the Existing document button at this point.
Use the Mailing Labels tab found inside the Document Type menu to specifically decide which merge fields will arrive on the finished label. After you have determined how the final label will look, press the Update Labels button. When data finally arrives in the form fields, it may have visible brackets around it. If this is the case, right-click the brackets and press the Toggle Field Codes button to turn them off.
When this process is complete, you are ready to create the final preview of the labels and print them. Press the Preview Results tab and scroll through the records using the Next Record and Previous Record arrows. When you are satisfied with the labels, go to the Mailings tab, click Finish and Merge in the Finish group, and then click the Print Documents button. If your printed documents do not reflect your preferred content or design, you may need to return to the Mailings tab and ensure that all the dimensions and paper sizes match your current configuration. If they do not, it is quite likely that problems will occur.
You can then save the document you have been working in to ensure that these labels are available for future use.