Mail merge and Office 2011

A reader who wishes to remain anonymous seeks a way to create form letters with Office 2011. Said reader writes:

I am looking for a way to do an e-mail merge using Outlook 2011 (or even Entourage 2008) on the Mac. It is extremely easy to do this through the Windows version of Outlook, but I can’t seem to make heads or tails of how to do it (easily) through Outlook 2011 on the Mac. Any ideas?

The first step to creating a successful form-letter is understanding that Outlook has nothing to do with designing the thing. Rather, you create mail merge documents within Microsoft Word. And you do it this way in Word 2011.

Choose Tools -> Mail Merge Manager. A small Mail Merge Manager window will appear. This window contains six steps, all of which you march through in order to create your document.

To begin, create a new blank document. Click Create New in the first step and you’ll see that you have the option to create a form letter, label, envelope, or catalog. For our purposes we’ll choose Form Letters.

In the second step click on Get List and choose the source for the data that will be inserted into your form letter—names, addresses, and phone numbers, for example. Your options include New Data Source, Open Data Source, Office Address Book (the one found in Outlook), Apple Address Book (Apple’s Address Book application), and FileMaker Pro. For our purposes, choose Apple Address Book.

Word's Mail Merge Manager

Now start constructing your form letter, leaving spaces where you want to merge your data. Return to the Mail Merge Manager window and click the third step. Here you’ll find common data types including first name, last name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Drag the appropriate data types to their proper place in your form letter.

In step four you determine which of your recipients are merged into the letter. Click Options and a Query Options window appears. In this specific case you choose groups of Address Book recipients. Once you’ve selected the groups you want to include, click OK.

If you like, you can preview your form letter to make sure it’s constructed properly. You do this in step five by clicking on the View Merged Data icon and clicking the right or left arrow buttons to move through the forms. As you click, new records are injected into your document.

Finally, in step six you produce your merged e-mail messages. You have three options: Merge to Printer, Merge to New Document, and Generate E-mail Message. That last option is the one you want. Click it and in the Mail Recipient window that appears enter a subject for your message in the Subject field and click Mail Merge to Outbox. Word should now generate customized versions of your message and place them in Outlook’s Outbox. If it doesn’t, open Apple’s Mail, choose Preferences, click the General tab, and ensure that Microsoft Outlook is configured as the default e-mail reader.

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