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mail merge

Why you should not use word for mail merge documents.

Microsoft word has the ability to create mail merges but we often recommend not using this function as there are a few issues with mail merges in Microsoft Word.  We prefer to use software which allows us to create mail merges within PDF documents.

The problem with word is that the program was not designed specifcally to create mail merges.  Using a PDF software give much more control over the merge and allows for many additional functions.  PDF software allows additional rules to be created, and essentially any rule can be coded into the document.  Some examples are dynamic changes to formatting, change to fit options, variable imagery, etc.  It is also much better to print variable data from a PDF, as opposed to printing from a word file.  

PDF software also allows more options to review the merge to make sure nothing is being truncated or causing unintended changes in the document.  Microsoft word documents often change depending on the settings on each computer.  The alignment and design of the document can also be difficult to control especially with variable data being inserted into the document.

Though we highly recommend using setting up variable data mail merge documents in a PDF software, we can and do use microsoft mail merges for some mailing.  This should only be done for simple merges with address merge and perhaps a variable salutation.  Everything else we recommend using PDF software.  The best way to set something like this up is to send a PDF document with either notes or highlighted fields that indicate the merged field and any other notes indicating special requests.


How to setup variable data printing and mail merges

We often get asked what is the best way to setup variable data printing and mail merges.  Most people like to use Microsoft Word to setup their mail merge, but this is often problematic as mail merges in Word have limitations.  We prefer using a PDF mail merge software which enables us to have greater control of the merge as well as more flexibility.

  The best way to setup a merge is to have us do it for you.  To do this you will need to create a PDF document and clearly label where merge fields need to be included.  The easiest way to do this is to insert the field name ( <<field name>> ), where the variable data field will be inserted.  It is also best to highlight this area to clearly demonstrate where each merge field will be inserted.  It is also helpful to provide a description of all the variable data you would like to include and any special instructions.  This description is helpful if you would like us to create special rules like adding variable images or changing font and text sizes dynamically if the text does not fit in the desired space.

 Once Action Mail has formatted and created the merge we will send you proofs for you to review and to make sure that the merge is working correctly and the correct variable data is pulling into the document.  Action Mail will also review the piece during our QAQC procedures to make sure everything is merging correctly and will check the longest and shortest record.

 Having Action Mail setup your merge will allow more flexibility and control of your variable data printing.  We will also be able to identify and avoid many pitfalls with setting up mail merges and ensure that the correct data is merged into your document and formatting remains as you would like it.


What is a Mail Merge?

A mail merge is the integration of data contained in a spreadsheet, into a template which could be a letter, address block of an envelope, postcard, or booklet.  A mail merge enables you to merge variable data so that each printed piece is personalized and customized based on your dataset.  This can be a very powerful tool to directly target individuals or print and mail personalized and confidential information.

  Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are popular tools to run mail merges, but when using them there are often issues with spacing and organization of the merge and Microsoft Word mail merges also have their limitations.

At Action Mail we prefer to use PDF mail merge software which allows much more control over the merge.  Our software enables us to add variable images, change the format based on the data, include variable phrases with multiple variable data, format the artwork so that all art and text fits into one page, ensure that variable text does not truncate, and the possibilities are endless.  

Once the data has been integrated and merged the mail merge and with variable data can be printed.  Action Mail offers variable data printing in both color and black and white and the variable data can be printed on a number of substrates and media.

Mail merges are typically used for letters but we run mail merges for postcards, envelopes, flyers, and letters as well.  The use of a mail merge allows content to be personalized to the specific recipient which dramatically increases response rates.

Some examples of the mail merges including, merging statement data, personalizing letters, customizing non-profit donations requests based on previous giving data, customizing offers, personalizing the content letter based on previous purchase data.  The possibilities are endless.  If you have the data Action Mail can create a dynamic personalized letter, postcard, envelope or flyer for your next campaign.  Even if you do not have the necessary data Action Mail can help append data for you.

Personalizing your direct mail campaign will make your campaign relevant, enticing, and eye catching which will drive response and return on investment.