This guide will support you in sending multiple email messages via mail merge. It is a simple process that requires a little preparation but has the potential to save you hours of time and the results can look very professional.
A video to support this guide is available and is available at the bottom of the page.
What will happen?
In short, you will be able to draft an email and have it automatically send to a number of people in a predefined list. You can also drop in additional data that’s unique to each individual on the list.
To perform this task we’ll use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook. I’ll mention at this point that the email account you wish to send the email messages from should be configured in Microsoft Outlook, and where you have more than one email account – the default account should be set as the one you wish the messages to come from.
I’ve personally done this task using Word and Outlook that come as part of Office 2007 and Office 2010, the process should be pretty much the same on Office 2013 and 2003.
The first thing to do is create a simple Excel list that features the recipients of the email message you are writing, the list should contain anything you’d like to include in your message that will vary for each person receiving the list such as Title and Name and should also include their email address. An example of how this should look is below, if the list contains other fields of data this won’t be a problem.
The second thing you want to do is compose your email, this isn’t done in Outlook as you might think it’s done in Word. Start writing your mail into a standard word document and leave space for any data that you’d like populated as part of the mail merge. You can save the word document and come back to it at a later time when you are ready to do the merge itself.
A quick way to check the messages are going to come from the correct email account would be to open Outlook and send yourself an email. When you receive the test email, check the address it came from – if it is the correct email address everything is good, if you have more than one email account in Outlook and it came from the wrong one then you’ll need to change the default account.
Run the merge (Send the messages)
Ok, so now that you have;
- A list of recipients with email messages in Microsoft Excel
- Your email message written in Microsoft Word
- Email account set up in Microsoft Outlook
you are ready to proceed. At this point I’d recommend closing both Excel and Outlook and we’ll work solely with Word at this point. Open your message in Word and then select the Mailings tab, select the Start Mail Merge option and then E-mail Messages.
The view may change a bit due to the outer border and margins disappearing – there are no margins in email messages.
Now select the Select Recipients option and then Use Existing List. A dialog will pop up and ask you to select the sheet containing the data, also note that if your list contains headers like my example above, ensure the box for “First row of data contains column headers” is checked.
Almost there now, once you selected the sheet you can insert fields of data using the Insert Merge Field option and insert select fields at certain points – this is demonstrated in the video. You can preview how the message looks at any time with added fields by pressing the Preview Results button – press it again to disable the preview mode.
Now all we need to do is engage the merge and send the email messages. Select the Finish & Merge option on the menu then Send E-Mail Messages, a dialog box will pop up with the final options. The “To” option should be the field from your Excel list that contains each individuals email address, the “Subject” option should contain the subject of the email being sent, the “Mail Format” can be used to send in plaintext rather than HTML – I don’t recommend this, and the last controls are for certain records rather than the whole list, I’d recommend leaving the last option at All.
Press the OK button, and the mails will be sent. Open Outlook, mails not yet send/sending will show in the Outbox and those sent will show in the Sent Items.
The subject field can’t contain a merge field. Some other applications do support this, but Word doesn’t.
Attachments cant be added to an email sent this way, my suggestion for attachments is to upload them to cloud storage and insert a link to the file in your email message.