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Mail merge is a feature of Outlook and Word that allows you to send a set of contacts a personalized e-mail as though they are the only person receiving the e-mail. With this feature, you can personalize the e-mail so that each of your recipients is the only person on the To: line and that the contents of the e-mail change based on information you have for each contact. Instead of starting the e-mail with “To whom it may concern,” you can have Outlook and Word automatically fills in the e-mail with your recipient’s name (e.g. “Dear Dan,”). Mail merge in Outlook is pretty hidden – most people don’t even know that you can send a personalized e-mail to each contact in a set of contacts the way you can print a set of form letters in Word. As a matter of fact, Outlook’s mail merge feature is built on Word’s functionality, which might add to the confusion.

The basic steps to creating a mail merged e-mail from Outlook are:

  1. Select your contacts in Outlook
  2. Select to send an e-mail in the Mail Merge dialog and choose your subject
  3. Compose your e-mail in Word – inserting fields where appropriate
  4. Preview and Send

If you already have the e-mail you want to send written in Word, start at step 3 and see this help article for more specific steps. (There are also some great step-by-step training videos for this feature on Office Online.)

Step 1: Select your contacts

· In Outlook, navigate to Contacts (Ctrl-3) and select the set of contacts you want to send your e-mail to: (hold the Ctrl key down and click on multiple contacts):

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Tip1: Use categories for the set of people you want to e-mail and then arrange your contacts by category. To send “mail merge” e-mail to each of them, click on the category header.

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Tip2: You could create a new folder in your, my contacts list. You’ll just need to right click near the Contacts folder and then select new folder. Then enter the new folder name, select the contacts from the list of where to place the folder and click ok. If you have created a New Contact Group you can then move the new folder into the new group. Just make sure that you have selected the new folder before going to step 2
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Note: The mail merge feature does not work with personal distribution lists. (I’m sorry!!)

Note 2: You will only be able to send e-mails to contacts that have an e-mail in the e-mail field.

Step 2: Mail Merge Dialog in Outlook – Choose E-mail

· Next, in the menu bar, click Tools, then Mail Merge (2007) or from the Home tab, under actions on the ribbon, click on Mail Merge

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· to get to this dialog:

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· First, under “Contacts,” select “Only selected contacts” or if you have used Tip2: in step one, keep selected “All contacts in the current view

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· Next, under “Merge options”, under “Merge to:” select “E-mail”

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· A subject line will appear – fill it in with your subject. Note: your subject will be the same for all of your recipients.

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· Click OK.

Step 3: Composing your e-mail… in Word

Word will be initialized and then appear. When starting a mail merge from within Word, the first step is to select the recipients, but you’ve already done that in Outlook, so the next step is to write the e-mail.

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· Treat the Word document as the body of your e-mail – because it is. Focus on the Write and Insert Fields group in the Ribbon:

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· To insert a greeting, click on “Greeting Line”

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· To insert a field, click on “Insert Merge Field” (on the top for a dialog, or on the bottom half of the button for a drop down list).

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· Note: There are a lot of contact fields to choose from.

Step 4: Preview your e-mail

· Once you have your e-mail the way you want it, you can preview what it will look like before you send it by clicking on “Preview Results” and then clicking on the left and right scroll buttons in the Preview Results group:

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Step 5: Send it!

· The last step is to send your e-mail. Just click “Finish & Merge” and “Send E-mail Messages…”

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· Which will bring up this dialog:

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· Click OK.

You can then watch as Word goes through each of your contacts and sends the mail.

For more information on this feature see Office Online.

More info on Mail Merge: Use mail merge to send personalized e-mail messages to your e-mail address list

Thanks to the team at http://blogs.office.com/b/microsoft-outlook/