ARCHIVED: What is a mail merge?
A mail merge is a method of taking data from a database, spreadsheet, or other form of structured data, and inserting it into documents such as letters, mailing labels, and name tags. It usually requires two files, one storing the variable data to be inserted, and the other containing both the instructions for formatting the variable data and the information that will be identical across each result of the mail merge.
For example, in a form letter, you might include instructions to insert the name of each recipient in a certain place; the mail merge would combine this letter with a list of recipients to produce one letter for each person in the list.
You can also print a set of mailing labels or envelopes by doing a mail merge. For labels, for example, you would construct a source document containing the addresses of the people you wish to print labels for and a main document that controls where each person's name, address, city, state, and zip code will go on the label. The main document would also contain information about how many labels are on a page, the size of each label, the size of the sheet of paper the labels are attached to, and the type of printer you will use to print the labels. Running a mail merge with the two files results in a set of labels, one for each entry in the source document, with each label formatted according to the information in the main document.
Most major word processing packages (e.g., Microsoft Word) are capable of performing a mail merge.
Last modified on January 07, 2013.