Mail merge step 2: Connect to a data file and select records

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Applies to
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Microsoft Word 2002

To merge unique information into your main document, you must connect to (or create and connect to) the data file where the unique information is stored. If you don't want to use all the data in the file in your merge, you can choose the records that you want to use.

Connect to the data file

In this step in the mail-merge process, you connect to the data file where the unique information that you want to merge into your documents is stored.

Mail Merge task pane - select recipients step

If you keep complete, up-to-date information in your Microsoft Office Outlook® Contacts list, that is an excellent data file to use for customer letters or e-mail messages. Just click Select from Outlook contacts in the task pane, and then choose your Contacts folder.

If you have a Microsoft Office Excel worksheet or a Microsoft Office Access database that contains your customer information, click Use an existing list, and then click Browse to locate the file.

If you don't have a data file yet, click Type a new list, and then use the form that opens to create your list. The list is saved as a mailing database (.mdb) file that you can reuse.

 Note   If you're creating merged e-mail messages or faxes, make sure that your data file includes a column for the e-mail address or fax number. You will need that column later in the process.

Choose the records in the data file that you want to use

Just because you connect to a certain data file doesn't mean that you have to merge information from all the records (rows) in that data file into your main document.

After you connect to the data file that you want to use or create a new date file, the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box opens. You can select a subset of records for your mail merge by sorting or filtering the list.

Mail Merge Recipients dialog box

Do any of the following:

  • To sort the records in a column in ascending or descending order, click the column heading.
  • To filter the list, click the arrow beside the column heading that contains the value on which you want to filter. Then, click the value that you want. Or, if your list is long, click (Advanced) to open a dialog box where you can set the value. Click (Blanks) to display only records that contain no information or (Nonblanks) to display only records that contain information.


After you filter the list, you can display all the records again by clicking the arrow and then clicking (All).

  • Clear the check box next to a record to exclude that record.
  • Use the buttons to select or exclude all the records or to find specific records.


If you created the data file as part of the mail-merge process, the Edit button is available in this dialog box. You can make changes to the records if you want to update the file.

After you choose the records that you want, you're ready for the next step.

Next step

Step 3: Add fields to the main document

Applies to:
Office 2003