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A Step by Step Guide to Setting Up Mail Merge in Outlook

When you need to send a large number of personalized emails, but not enough to justify using a full marketing automation platform, mail merge can be a powerful tool. We have put together this step-by-step explanation on how to mail merge and set up emails sent to relatively large mailing lists using Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word with Windows.

Mail Merge Using Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel) and Outlook in Windows


Step 1 - Compose your message

Using Word, create a new document that includes your full message to recipients. Use temporary placeholders for first name, last name, and any other details you would like to personalize in the final text. These can be added in a later step. Save the file to your local drive.


Step 2 - Create your mailing list

Using Excel, and again saving to your local drive, create a new workbook that includes separate columns First Name, Last Name, Email Address, and any details you’d like to include to personalize the message. Make sure all of the data you need is contained in Sheet 1 of the workbook.


Step 3 – Mail Merge

Open the Word document created in Step 1 and follow the step-by-step below in Word’s Mail Merge Manager under Tools > Mail Merge Manager.

1. Select Document Type

Select the radio dial for “E-mail messages” and click next at the bottom of the sidebar.

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2. Select Starting Document

Having already opened the drafted email, select “Use the current document,” then click next.

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3. Select Recipients

Select “Use an existing list” then browse for the file created in Step 2.

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Optionally filter or sort recipients if you would like to send the message to only a portion of those in the Excel file by selecting “Edit recipient list..."

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4. Write your letter

This was completed in Step 1, but you can make any adjustments to the e-mail message now as well.

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If you added any personalization aspects in Step 1, select “More items…” on this screen. For each personalization aspect in your email, place the cursor in the correct location, then select the corresponding field and click “Insert.”

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5. Preview your letters

Make sure your personalization inserts have worked properly with the recipient list.

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6. Complete Merge

Select the right-most icon to generate email message. Make sure that Outlook is set as your computer’s default email program.

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