Send E-mails from Word

Send E-mails from Word

At a recent meeting at work the question came up about a person wanting IT to create a program that would mass mail to a list of people a common email.  Some people suggested we needed to create a .NET application.  Others suggested that we look for a 3rd party solution to buy that would do the mailings for us.  Being the resident renegade who believes in using first what we have rather than looking to the outside for a solution, I first asked…

“Does this list of people include only employees or must the email go to people on the outside?”  You see my first thought was defining a distribution group within Active Directory and then using that distribution group to send out the emails.  But then they told me that most of the emails would be going to people outside of the organization.  Well, it would not make sense to add non-employees to our Active Directory so I suggested…

“What about doing a mail merge from an Access database or an Excel spreadsheet?”  No one was sure if that would really work.  However I remember doing mail merge several versions back in Microsoft Word and thought that it would at least be worth a bit of research.

After the meeting ended, I went back to my desk and started to play around a little.  This is the solution I found:

First I opened Excel and created a simple spreadsheet with the columns that I would need for the mail merge.  The first row consisted of a header with the names of the fields that I would reference from the mail merge.  Finally, I converted the range of cells to a table with the result looking like the following before saving it.


Then I opened Microsoft Word.  One of the ribbons that few people ever look at, much less know what it includes is the Mailings ribbon.  The following figure shows a portion of that ribbon.


The command group I want to focus on first is the Start Mail Merge group, specifically, the Start Mail Merge option.  From this dropdown menu, I selected E-Mail Messages since I wanted to send email to the people in my merge file.


Next I clicked the Select Recipients button from the same ribbon group.  From the dropdown list, I chose the option to: Use Existing List…


This opened a dialog box that allowed me to navigate to and select the Excel spreadsheet I created earlier with the names and email addresses of everyone I wanted to send the email to.


After selecting an Excel spreadsheet, I still have to select which sheet in my workbook to find the data table.


Now more of the commands on the Mailings ribbon become enabled.  Since this is an email, I want to add a Greeting line at the top of the email.  I could build this manually, but there is an option in the ribbon that will do this for me.  Specifically, I want to click on the command button Greeting Line in the Write & Insert Fields group of the ribbon.


This opens the Greeting Line dialog which shows me what fields it thinks I might want to use in the greeting line.  This is where naming your headings can save you step because it correctly identifies my First Name and Last Name columns.


However, even if I had named the columns something else, I could click on the Match Fields button near the bottom of this dialog to open the Match Fields dialog to identify the fields needed for the Greeting line as shown here:


This adds a field to my Word document which will become my email called <<GreetingLine>>.  But let me add the rest of my text for a simple email which might look like the following:


The only think I need to do yet is to add the field for person’s phone number which I had in as a column in the Excel spreadsheet.  I can position the cursor where I want to add the field, then click on the lower half of the Insert Merge Field button.  This opens a dropdown list of the fields in my source data table.  I can simply select the Phone_Number field from this list.


This completed my sample email.  To send the email, I next look at the Preview Results group.


Here I can click on the Preview results button and the use the controls to the right of this button to step through each of the recipients.   The following figure shows a single example:


If everything looks good, I can complete the merge process and send out the emails by clicking the Finish & Merge button in the finish group.  Note that this button also has a lower half which when you click there opens a dropdown.  From this dropdown, you can tell Word to send the  e-mail messages.


That was it.  It only took a couple of minutes to develop this solution.  But most importantly, it cost nothing, was immediately available, and made further use of the tools we already owned.  What do you think?  Was it a good, quick solution?

C’ya next time.

One comment on “Send E-mails from Word

  1. Hello Mike, The mail merge function has been the system I’ve used every year to produce over 13,000 contracts, and it works amazingly. However, last year, I realized how easy it was to construct my own “hybrid” versions, converting output from SAP and using the Excel import and Word functions to customize. Since then, I’ve adapted it for quarterly invoice billing, streamlining what had been an otherwise tedious process. If the initial merge is less than satisfactory, dump that– tweak a little more, and try again until it’s just right.

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