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: Getting Rid of Mail Merge Section Breaks.

Getting Rid of Mail Merge Section Breaks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 21, 2017)

Jane complained about not being able to get rid of the section breaks between mail-merge documents. Apparently Jane uses Word to create mail-merge documents, and then needs to get rid of the section breaks. There are two ways that this can be handled. The first is to change how the mail-merge document is created, and the second is after merging to a new document.

When you create a mail-merge document, Word 2007 and Word 2010 allow you to create any of the following that are designed for printed output:

  • Form Letters. Using this format, it is assumed that each iteration of the mail-merge process creates a separate letter. A section break is placed between each created letter, and each data record is used to create a complete letter.
  • Mailing Labels. Using this format, it is assumed that each iteration of the mail-merge process creates a mailing label. The labels are placed in a table, with each data record creating one of the labels.
  • Envelopes. Using this format, it is assumed that each iteration of the mail-merge process creates a separate envelope. A section break is placed between each enveloped, and each data record is used to create an envelope.
  • Catalog. Using this format, it is assumed that each iteration of the mail-merge process creates a separate output record. The layout of the source document is relied upon very heavily, and there is no additional formatting added by the output process.

These same types of output are available in Word 2013 and Word 2016, but (of course) Microsoft changed the names by which they are known. In those versions, "Form Letters" was changed to "Letters," "Mailing Labels" was changed to "Labels," and "Catalog" was changed to "Directory." (The "Envelopes" option was the only one that retained its name unscathed.)

If you don't want additional formatting added to the output of the mail-merge process, simply choose the Catalog or Directory document type, depending on your version of Word. This is the most bare-bones type of merge, and you can still use it to create virtually any type of finished document you want.

The other way to get rid of the section breaks is to create Form Letters (by choosing that option), and then use Find and Replace to remove the section breaks in the final document. You search for a ^b (which is the code for a section break) and replace it with a ^m (which is the code for a manual page break) or some other character. If you replace the section break with "nothing" (by leaving the Replace With field blank), then the resulting document is the same as if you had chosen to create a Catalog type document in the first place.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9743) 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: Getting Rid of Mail Merge Section Breaks.

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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