Word's mail merge feature in Office XP offers a rich variety of options and customizations for your use. Let's dive into the New Address List window.
First, the New Address List window is accessed by starting the Mail Merge Wizard, and advancing to step 3 (Select Recipients), then clicking Create… under the Type a new list heading. For a quick review of mail merge basics, see this article.
The New Address List window is a fairly simple one to navigate.
The top half of the window contains fields for entering information about each of your intended mail merge recipients. The bottom half consists of a number of buttons for navigating and displaying your information, but also contains tools to filter and sort existing lists based on what you want to include in your mail merge.
To enter a new contact into the New Address List window, click into the first field and enter information, then press Tab to move to the next field. Continue until all information has been entered for the first contact. Enter a second contact by clicking on the New Entry button.
The second button in the bottom half of the window enables you to delete an entry that you may no longer need for this or future mail merges. When you click the Delete Entry button, you will be prompted to confirm that you wish to delete the entry. Click OK to confirm, and you will return to the New Address List window.
Those were the basic buttons – easy to use, easy to understand, and necessary to get your list set up in its basic form.
But what if you really want to tweak your data for specific purposes? For example, what if you know there is an entry that is no longer current, and you want to find it without having to use the next and previous buttons to navigate through the whole list? Easy!
Click the Find Entry button to display this window:
The Find Entry window allows you to enter a string of text to search for, either in All Fields contained within the table, or within a specific field of your choosing. Let's say I know I have an entry with "555" in the home phone field. Since I know that I want only those entries with 555 in the home phone field (but not ones where 555 may exist, but in another field like the address), I can specify the telephone number field in the "Look In" portion of the Find Entry window.
This search will display only those entries in my list that contain "555" in the home phone field. Please note that this Find Entry window does not support searching by wildcards like * (asterisk). However, you can search for smaller strings from the whole of the field. For example, you can search for "thom" in the last name field and return results of Thomas, Thomson, and Thompson.
The next button in the New Address List window is Filter and Sort. The Filter and Sort button allows you to manipulate your list to only include certain recipients from your entire list based on conditions you specify, and also allows you to sort your list so that your letters or labels will be created in the order of whichever field you choose. Clicking on the Filter and Sort button displays the following window:
The Filter Records tab allows you to enter up to six filtering criteria to narrow your list down to those recipients who meet all of the conditions you've chosen.
For example, I may choose to only include records in my mail merge for those contacts who live in California, specified by "CA" appearing in the State field of my list. If I choose "State" from the field dropdown, "Equal To" in the Comparison dropdown, and enter my specific criterion in the "Compare To" dropdown, I will effectively eliminate any recipient who does not live in California.
But it goes further than that! I can also specify that I only want recipients from my contact list whose title is "Mr." and whose state of residence is California. I do so by setting up the Filter Records tab as shown below. Note the "AND" operator at the beginning of the second line. It is important to be aware of what operator is in each box, since the same filter options as below with an "or" operator would produce completely different results.
After setting up filter options, click OK to view the results of your filter. Note that I only have one entry in my address list that matches both criteria: a title of Mr. and a state of CA.
In the Filter and Sort window, you can also sort your records in ascending or descending order by whatever field you choose. Click on the Sort tab to display the box below. In this sort, I've opted to sort first by Last Name in Ascending order, and by First Name in ascending order within the Last-Name-Sorted list. Clicking OK will apply any sort or filter as set up on each tab.
Be careful with filtering and sorting! Whatever filter or sort you have applied will carry through to the subsequent steps of the mail merge wizard. So if you only wanted to VIEW the results of your filter or sort, but include all records in your actual mail merge, you will need to go back into the Filter and Sort window and click Clear All to remove any filter. Note that both the Filter tab and the Sort tab have Clear All buttons. The Clear All button on the Filter tab ONLY clears filters applied, not any sorts. To clear a sort, you need to switch to the Sort tab and click Clear All there, too.
The final button in the New Address List window is the Customize button. You may choose to use this button first in order to set up your fields as desired. Clicking on the Customize button displays the window below:
You can add, delete and rename the existing "canned" fields as desired, and also reposition them in the list, which will ultimately reorganize your mail merge results.
If I decide a Cellular Phone field would be appropriate for this particular merge, I can click Add to display the box below:
Enter the name of your new field, then click OK to add it to the list. You can then use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to position the new field wherever you'd like it to be displayed.
Finally, you can opt to rename an existing field if the name given by default does not fit for you. To rename a field, select the field in the list of field names, then click Rename. Enter the new name and click OK to accept the change.
There you have it! The basics of the New Address List window used in the Mail Merge wizard in Word XP. More to come on Mail Merge in XP – stay tuned!