Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Can't Merge Alphanumeric Data Correctly.

Can't Merge Alphanumeric Data Correctly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 6, 2016)


Dave is having a problem getting data in an Excel worksheet to merge successfully into a Word document. The original Excel file had fields like Job Number and Truck Number. In the merge file, he wanted the value of these fields to display unless the field was blank, in which case he wanted some underscore characters displayed. Dave used the following as his merge field:

{IF{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}="" "________" "{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}"}

When both the Job Number or Truck Number fields used the General format and contained only digits, this worked fine. Then his data changed and he had job and truck numbers with alphanumeric characters. When doing the merge, if the job or truck number contained alphanumerics, then the number 0 displayed in the merge instead of the correct digits or underscores. Thus, the merges now produced 0 in place of alphanumeric fields and Dave never got underlines; only numeric fields (or numeric fields formatted as Text) merge properly.

There are a couple of things Dave can try in this situation. The first is to slightly modify the merge field. If the merge is grabbing zero values instead of blanks, then you can change the test so it checks for zeroes, as shown here:

{IF{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}="0" "________" "{MERGEFIELD Job_Number}"}

Now, if Excel is really transferring zeroes in place of blank fields (or Word is interpreting blanks as zeroes), the test will be positive and you will get the underlines you want.

Another thing to check out is the formatting on the data that is being imported. A great resource on how to handle formatting in merge fields is found at this Web page:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9722) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Can't Merge Alphanumeric Data Correctly.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is six more than 8?

2016-02-07 15:41:51


I find dates and times to be a merge problem form Excel to Word or Outlook. I've used a field in Excel that generates the text I want - rather than the Excel formatted dates and times.

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