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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Survive the changes in Microsoft Word 2003 mail merge

With each new release of Microsoft Office, it seems that in Microsoft's wisdom, that they decide how change, we are the modest merge. In earlier versions of Microsoft Word such as such as Microsoft Word 2000, the process for performing a mail merge was simple. The first step was to create the data source, which was a Microsoft Word document with a simple table in it by default. The next step was that create main document that could be a letter or a brochure. Then the third step was your fields add to perform the main document and then finally the merge.
In Microsoft Word 2003 when you start a new mail merge you should be then the data source that you create a Microsoft Access database aware, that you in fact is not to Microsoft Word document as a data source. To some degree, I welcome this step because I am a passionate supporter, who in fact should all raw data stored in a database of some kind, it does not matter, whether of a Microsoft Access database, a MySQL database or SQL Server. The reason for this is that the database allows it is much more stable as a Microsoft Word document users more than once to use this data and a database, especially if you are working with large amounts of data. You will also notice that the Microsoft Access database, created from the mail Merge Wizard is very simple and contains only a single table with the fields you defined.
The cool thing Microsoft has done with this, is that store your raw data in a Microsoft Access database, you change it in the future this data with other applications allows. Actually, it's much easier to move data in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, or even in a system of commercial database such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access. The new merge functionality, you can filter and sort your data also easy. Another important advantage is that the filter can you on what data you actually want to include in the mail merge process.
I have the problem but is to do with the new Microsoft Word 2003 mail merge process the complexity of a merge. Especially the long winded way, you must insert the merge fields in your document. In earlier versions of Microsoft Word application, such as Microsoft Word 2000 you could add your main document at once simply each merge field. In Microsoft Word 2003 you must first open the mail merge field dialog box each time you want to add a field. That of right, need to add each field by selecting the field and then insert the merge field, and then close the dialog, and then repeat this step for each field. I find more annoying than anything else.
We could of course manually enter each field with the key combination CTRL + F9 (used, insert a field), but a lot of work is that I agree. I think, in future, this is something that Microsoft changes, but I think that only time will tell versions.
I think all in all, this new Microsoft Word 2003 mail Merge Wizard is a positive step, but be a little overwhelming and confusing for the user that the merge can process earlier.

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