Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Checking Your Data File.

Checking Your Data File

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 4, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Word includes a powerful feature called Mail Merge that allows you to combine a document with data from a data source to create individualized documents. Once you have created your main document and your data file is attached, it is a good idea to run a final check by comparing your data file with your document. To do this, start by opening your main document. Make sure the Mailings tab of the ribbon is displayed.

In the Preview Results group click the tool called Check for Errors or, in earlier versions of Word, called Auto Check for Errors. Word displays the Checking and Reporting Errors dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Checking and Reporting Errors dialog box.

Select the radio button that indicates how you want Word to check your data file. The selection you make depends on how confident you are in the quality of your data file. If you are fairly confident in its quality, accept the default and allow Word to show you the few errors your file may contain. If you aren't sure about the quality of your data file, then select the first option to simulate a merge and report the errors in a new document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9739) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Checking Your Data File.

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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