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Mail Merge to Outlook with filters, attachments and more!

Question: I have an Excel spreadsheet with data I would like to merge to Outlook. I need to include a survey as an attachment with their specified information and have them return it to me. I only want it to go to names that are highlighted in my spreadsheet. There will be over 300 names.

Answer: Oh, I love these challenges. First, in order to be able to identify the names to select from Excel, there has to be something consistent about how they are entered, such as a field with specific criteria. However you are not able to filter based on highlight or color. So in looking at the data, the records had a 1 in one column or another column. This is going to work!! If you don’t have any consistent criteria, you may want to add a field/column with an X in the cells you wish to send (or not send to).

Next, we did a “test” run with sample names/email addresses that we can check to verify it works. You want to do this because it is rather embarrassing if something doesn’t work, and you accidentally send 300 incorrect emails out.

Then we went through the mail merge steps. If you have your document already created, open that file. Then to create the merge, from the ribbon select Mailings > Start Mail Merge  > Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard. A task pane appears on the right of your Word screen. I prefer the wizard because it takes you step by step so that you don’t forget anything. Follow the steps on each screen and click next:

  1. First, select “Email” as your document type and Next, select “Use the current document.”
  2. Next, select recipients by browsing for your Excel spreadsheet as your data source (You should close the Excel file if it is open). You may edit the names individually, if there are just a few, or click Filter to identify the fields and values you are looking for and use the and/or options appropriately by adding additional rows to your filter criteria.
  3. Next, add the fields from the excel file you want to include in your email/letter to personalize it by clicking on More Items (or Insert Merge Field from the Ribbon).
  4. Next, preview the emails (use the arrows next to recipient to verify the information looks correct). Again, initially I would test just a couple of sample names from the file that you can verify they were sent/received.
  5. Once you feel confident the information is merged correctly, you can click Next, Complete the Merge and click Electronic Mail.
  6. Add the field with the email address to the To section, include a subject line, and select Attachment from Mail Format (You may find people read emails more than they would open attachments and if you’re sending out 300, attachments will take more space, adding to your email size). In that case, I would suggest using HTML, as it seems easier and faster. Once you click OK, the emails will go and you cannot stop the process.
  7. Check your sent folder to see if the mail was sent. Then check your test recipient to see if it was received. If you have about 300 recipients in your file, then you have 300 messages in your sent folder.
  8. Rather than deleting all of these emails immediately from your Sent folder, you may want to use Adobe Acrobat to convert these messages to a PDF file and save onto your computer if you need to refer to these later as proof they were sent. Then you can delete those messages from the sent folder to free up space in your mail database.

If you have additional questions on Merges to Outlook, please feel free to contact me at klaursen@unmc.edu.


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