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How to Send a Mail Merge with Excel [Visual Guide]

Looking to send a mail merge in Excel?

In this article, I’ll show you how to perform a mail merge using an Excel spreadsheet to distribute mass emails and letters quickly.

What is a Mail Merge?

Mail merges are an easy way to quickly customize emails, letters, or any other personalized correspondence.

Let’s say you need to send the same email or letter to several people, but with a unique name, address, or other personalized details for each recipient. A mail merge lets you automatically insert those personalized details into each email without the pain of having to type out each one manually.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)

How Does a Mail Merge Work?

A mail merge automatically fetches data from a spreadsheet (or other data sources) and inserts it into a template document. This data can be your contacts’ names and addresses, their email IDs, or any other details.

To send a mail merge, you need two files: 

  1. A data file – Usually, a Google Sheets file or a Microsoft Excel file that contains your contacts’ information.
  2. A template file – The main document that has placeholders for inserting the data that is fetched from your data file.

For example, you can perform a mail merge for an email.

Here, your email is the template file — you can set the placeholders for your recipients’ names and addresses in the email.

shows an email template

Your data file will be the spreadsheet that contains all their details.

shows a spreadsheet

The mail merge function would then combine the email template with your data file to create individual emails for each recipient.

How Do Mail Merges Help You?

The mail merging process automatically creates separate, personalized documents for each recipient. This way, you save tons of time as you’re not wasting hours manually creating a new customized document for each person.

Imagine manually composing 100 different emails for 100 different recipients! 

You can use mail merges to enter recipient data quickly for sending different documents such as:

  • Mass emails
  • A form letter
  • Mailing labels
  • Envelopes
  • Return address labels
  • Personalized brochures
  • And more

How to Mail Merge from Excel

Let me show you how to create a mail merge from Excel to send out mass emails and letters.

How to Use Mail Merge Excel for Sending Mass Emails

Mail merging is the most commonly used method to send mass emails.

Here, the data file will be a mailing list, which is usually stored in a spreadsheet, like Google Sheets or Excel. Your mail merge template will be the email that you send to your recipient list.

How to Send a Mail Merge from Excel with GMass

Here’s how you can use powerful mail merge tools like GMass to send mail merges quickly using Excel:

What Is GMass?

GMass is a powerful mail merge tool that makes it incredibly easy to draft and send mass emails from your Gmail inbox. Its advanced mail merging features have made it a popular mail merge tool that’s used by employees from Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Uber.

However, GMass can also be used by individuals and groups like schools, institutions, churches, and clubs to send emails to their members quickly.

What’s more —

Anyone can get started with GMass instantly — just download the Chrome add-on and sign up with your email ID. It’s that simple!

shows the GMass webpage

If you have your contact data saved in an Excel file, GMass can easily use it to create a data merge that personalizes your emails for tons of recipients.

Here’s a detailed walk-through for how to send a mail merge in Excel using GMass.
I’ll be using the Excel spreadsheet, shown in the image below, to walk you through the process.

shows an excel sheet

A. Importing Your Excel Sheet into Google Sheets

The first step is to import your Excel sheet into Google Sheets. It just takes a few seconds.

Why do I have to import my Excel document to Google Sheets?

Because when it comes to mail merges, Google Sheets is far more powerful. With its automatic cloud-syncing feature, your work is auto-saved with each edit you make.

Google Sheets is free and available to anyone. All you need is a Google account!

While Excel also supports sharing and file back-ups, you don’t get the same level of collaboration and syncing that Sheets offers. Additionally, as you’re sending emails, it’s smarter to have your data file available online, right?

Note – If your contact data is in a CSV file, you can also import it into Google Sheets. Here’s a LinkedIn learning tutorial on how to import a CSV file into Google Sheets.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to import your Excel sheet into Google Sheets:

Step 1
Open Google Sheets.

shows the Google Sheets webpage

Step 2
Click on the folder icon in the bottom-right to open the file picker.

shows how to open the file picker

Step 3
A new window showing the Google Sheets File Picker appears.
Click on the Upload tab to upload your Excel file.

shows how to upload a file to GSheets

Step 4
You can now select the file you want to upload from your computer.
To select your file, click on the Select a file from your device button.

shows the drag or select file window

Step 5
Select the Excel spreadsheet you want to upload from your computer and click on the Open button.

shows how to open an excel file into GSheets

Step 6
Your file will be automatically uploaded and converted into a new Google spreadsheet.

Voila!

shows a GSheet

B. Formatting Your New Google Sheet

Notice how my Google Sheet has the text — Ted’s Tadpole Tanks – Customer List For 2019 — in the first row?

Such text and blank rows must be removed from your spreadsheet before you can use it with GMass. You can quickly delete them by holding down the Ctrl button and clicking on the row numbers to be removed.

Here, I’m deleting rows 1 and 2 from my sheet:

shows the rows to be deleted from a GSheet

Once you’ve selected the rows to be removed, click on the Edit menu and click Delete selected rows.

shows the Edit menu in GSheets

After deletion, the sheet looks like this:

shows the GSheets after deleting rows

Your spreadsheet must also be in plain text with proper formatting of rows and columns. Here’s what you need to do to ensure that:

  • The first row of your Google Sheet should contain column names such as FirstName, LastName, Email, etc. However, column names shouldn’t contain spaces, special characters, or codes. Instead, stick with alphanumeric characters for each name. GMass will automatically use these field names as the mail merge labels that will be placed in your email placeholders.
  • The actual data should start in the second row.
  • At least one column should contain your recipients’ email IDs. GMass will auto-detect this column during the data merge.
C. Connecting GMass to Your Google Spreadsheet

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to connect GMass to your Google Spreadsheet:

Step 1
Log in to your Gmail account.

Step 2
Click the GMass spreadsheet button beside your Gmail search bar.

shows how to connect GMass to GSheets

Step 3
A pop-up window appears:

shows the GMass-GSheets connection window

Step 4
You can now select the spreadsheet you want to use for the mail merge from the Google Sheets drop-down list.

shows how a GSheet is connected to GMass

Note – If there’s only one sheet (Sheet1) in your Google spreadsheet, it’s selected by default. However, if your spreadsheet has multiple sheets, you can select the required sheet from the worksheet drop-down menu. 

Once you’ve selected a spreadsheet, click on the CONNECT TO SPREADSHEET button.

Step 5
After clicking the connect button, GMass will automatically read each recipient’s address and other data from your spreadsheet. It will also insert their email IDs into the To field of a new email.

shows a new compose window in Gmail with email ids from the GSheets inserted

Step 6
Now you can compose your email using the advanced personalization features of GMass. To access these personalization settings, click on the settings arrow in the GMass button.

shows the GMass settings window

Click the Personalize drop-down list, and all the column names you added in your Google Sheets file will show up.

To personalize your email message, select the column names in your spreadsheet from the drop-down menu. You can insert these placeholders anywhere in your email subject and body.

shows the GMass personalization settings

Here’s how my personalized email looks:

shows the final personalized email

Notice the {FirstName} label?
That’s a personalization tag corresponding to the FirstName column in my Google Sheet.

Step 7
Once you’ve finished composing your mail, hit the GMass button to send the email.

Note – GMass will automatically personalize the email for each recipient based on the mail merge labels you’ve used in your email messages.

For example, the second recipient of Ted’s Tadpole email – Brandon Walsh, will receive an email that starts with “Dear Brandon,” since the {FirstName} label was used in the email message.

How to Use Mail Merge Excel for Sending Letters

You can use mail merge in Microsoft Office to create a form letter with unique personalization elements like greetings or salutations for each recipient.

Here’s a walk-through for how to create a mail merge in Word and Excel to create personalized mass letters:

A.  Formatting Your Excel Workbook

Before you start mail merge in Word and Excel, you need to ensure that your Excel file is well-formatted.

However, unlike the GMass method, it can be a little more confusing.

Here are six things to keep in mind when formatting your Excel workbook for a data merge with your Word document:

    • The column header of your Excel table must contain the field names you want to use in your mail merge template. For example, if the Excel column name for your contacts’ first names is “FirstName,” the Word mail merge function will use this as the corresponding placeholder in your template.shows an excel sheet
    • Organize your Excel data to have one record per row.
    • Your data must start in cell A1 in the Excel worksheet.
    • All edits to your Excel document must be done before initiating the mail merge with your main document.
    • Your Excel workbook must be stored on your computer.
    • Data entries with numerical values such as currencies, postal codes, percentages, dates, etc. must be in the right number format. To do this, you need to:
      • Select the column that contains the numerical value.
      • Click on Home and go to the Number section.
        shows the excel menubar
      • Click on the Number Format box and choose the required format from the drop-down menu that appears.
        shows the various number formats in excel

Note – If your contact data is a TXT or CSV file, you can import it to Excel by clicking on From Text/CSV in the Data section in the menu bar.

B.  Preparing the Document Template for Your Word Mail Merge

The next step is to prepare a mail merge template for your form letter in Microsoft Word. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this:

Step 1
Open a new document in MS Word.

Step 2
Select the Mailings tab and click on Start Mail Merge group. A drop-down list showing every different document type pops-up.

You can choose between an email, envelope, letter, directory, or label template. For example, to create mailing labels, you need to select the Label template as your document type.

As we are sending a letter, choose Letters as your main document from the drop-down list.

shows different mail merge documents in word

Note – You can also use the Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard to streamline the mail merge in Word process. For example, the wizard lets you instantly select the starting document for your mail merge as shown here:

shows the word mail merge wizard

Step 3
Type in the letter you want to send to your mail merge recipients.

C. Selecting Your Recipient List

After composing your letter, you need to choose the list of mail merge recipients for it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to select your recipients in MS Word:

Step 1
Click on the Select Recipients button.

shows the Select Recipients tab in word

Step 2
From the drop-down menu that appears, click on Use an Existing List.

shows the select recipients menu in word

Step 3
A dialog box pops-up. Select the Excel file you want to use as the contact list for your letter and click Open.

shows the word file picker window

Step 4
Choose the Excel worksheet you want to merge with the Word document and click OK. If your Excel document has only one sheet, you’ll see only Sheet1.

shows the window to select the excel sheet you want to merge with word

Step 5
If you want to edit your mailing list, choose Edit Recipient List.

A Mail Merge Recipients pop-up window will be displayed. In the pop-up window, clear the checkbox next to the name of the person you don’t want to include as a recipient.

shows the Edit Recipient window in word

D. Adding Personalized Content to Your Letter

Now you can add personalized content such as recipient names and addresses to your letter.

MS Word lets you add three personalization variables to your current document:

  • Insert Address Block – you can insert a person’s address to your document.
  • Insert Greetings/Salutations – add a personalized greeting to your letter.
  • Insert Mail Merge Fields – add other mail merge labels from your Excel worksheet.

Step 1 – Insert Address Block

Go to the Mailings tab and click on Address Block.

shows the Insert Address Block window in word

From the dialog box that appears, select the format for the recipient’s address block and click OK.

An address tag will be automatically added to your Word document, as shown in the picture below:

shows the address block tag inserted into word

Step 2 – Insert Greeting Line
Click on Greeting Line from the menu bar, choose the format you want to use, and click OK.

shows the Insert Greeting Line window in word

A greeting tag («GreetingLine») will be automatically inserted into your letter.

Step 3 – Insert Merge Field
You can also insert other mail merge labels in Word like the recipient’s first name, contact number, company name, etc. by clicking on the Insert Merge Field from the menu bar.

These fields are the column labels in your Excel sheet.

shows the insert other fields menu in word

Quick Tip – You can also use the Match Fields dialog box to manually map your Excel column names with your template field names. While it’s more time-consuming, it gives you more control over the personalization process.

shows the Match Fields window in word

E. Previewing and Finishing the Mail Merge Function

Once you’re done creating the letter, you can preview what it looks like with the data added from your Excel sheet.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to preview your letters with Word’s mail merge function:

Step 1
Go to Mailings > Preview Results to preview your letter for each recipient.

shows the Preview Results menu in word

Step 2
You can enter the recipient number (the corresponding row number in your Excel file) in the text box or click on the Next and Previous buttons to scroll through your recipients.

shows the settings to used to preview the document for each contact

Step 3
After verifying the data, select Finish & Merge to complete the mail merge process between Word and Excel.

shows the Finish & Merge drop-down list in word

A drop-down menu appears. You can choose to:

  • Edit Individual Documents – further edit individual letters.
  • Print Documents – print labels, letters, or any other merged document type.
  • Send Them as Email Messages – send the merged document as an email.

Note – Sending letters as email messages requires you to set up Outlook or Gmail with Word manually. Using the GMass method for email mail merges is a much simpler process.

F. Saving the Letter

When you’re done working with your merged document, you can save it by going to File > Save or by pressing the Ctrl + S keys.

To reuse your mail merge document, open it and click Yes when Word prompts you to keep the connection from Excel to Word.

shows the window asking you if you want to keep the connection between your word and excel files or to stop it.

Conclusion

Creating a mail merge in Excel doesn’t have to be complicated.

While you can use MS Word to create mail merges for letters, it can be tricky to use when sending mass emails.

Instead, use a mail merge tool like GMass.

Its powerful mail merge features let you draft, merge, and send an email instantly. So why not download the Chrome extension and try it out today?

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