What is mail merge?

A Mail Merge is a process of creating personalized letters, pre-addressed envelopes, or address labels from the so called form letter, which is a document consisting of fixed contents same for each output document, and placeholders for variable text, that make each copy of the document unique. This unique information for the placeholders is taken from a data source.

The data source is typically a spreadsheet or a database which has a field or column for each variable in the template. When the mail merge is run, the software system creates an output document for each row in the database, using the fixed text exactly as it appears in the template, but substituting the data variable placeholders in the template with the values from the matching columns.

The Mail merge process can be split to several simple stages. The steps of mail merge are:

  1. Create the main document with the fixed contents you need,
  2. Choose an existing Data Source, or create a new one,
  3. Add the merge field placeholders into the main document taking into account that when you perform the mail merge, the mail merge fields become filled with information from your data file. Since the information can be of different size, make sure the placeholders are big enough to contain the most lengthy one, and set the desired alignment, anchorage, etc. of the placeholder.
  4. Merge the data with the main document, and preview the result. If possible, preview each copy of the document before you print the whole set.

The advantages of mail merge is that the feature saves your time and efforts. Producing mass mailings is much simplified, especially compared to the process of preparing individual letters or envelopes to many people.

The mail merge feature on mac is supported by several software titles, the Labels and Databases among them.

The power and flexibility of mail merge systems varies considerably from one software product to another.

Mail merge also is often called print merge.

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