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microsoft mail merge

Why You Should Not Use Word For Direct Mail Merges

Microsoft Word has a feature which allows you to merge data into files to create documents with variable data. Yet, Microsoft word was not specifically designed for mail merges of variable data and more importantly for printing. Since the software was not specifically designed for this purpose there are pitfalls that can effect your mailing.

At Action Mail we prefer to use a PDF mail merge software which is much more advanced and allows for a better

Control: With Microsoft Word there is little control over the merge and formatting. Microsoft Word does allow for some formulas and advanced mail merges but it is much more difficult and less transparent. If you can dream it we can put it together with our software, including variable imagery or complex if and then statements.

Printing: Printing from a PDF is preferable to a word document. Production print drivers are setup to print from PDF documents and the quality and speed at which the printers can process the file is much higher as a PDF.

Consistency: What you see in a PDF is what everyone else will see on the same document. Documents in word change formatting from computer to computer depending on the settings in place.

Formatting: With Word formatting of mail merges tend to get changed and it is also hard to safe guard against large variable data fields creating new pages or adjusting formatting.

The best way to create variable data printing documents is to make a template PDF file and provide instructions as to the rules you want to create and how you would like the mail merged document to look. We can work with Word documents and Word Mail Merges but we prefer PDFs, and many times will ask if we can convert the word document to a PDF to run the 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.