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: Proper Comparisons for Dates in Merge Fields.

Proper Comparisons for Dates in Merge Fields

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 14, 2017)

Volker is having a problem comparing dates in a merge field. His database contains a Birthdate field, which (obviously) contains a birth date for each person in the database. As he merges each record, he wants to compare the Birthdate field to a reference date, and then take some action based on the result. The logic he is attempting to use looks like this:

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate} > "02/26/1981" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

The problem is that the comparison doesn't work properly; it doesn't return consistent results. One possible solution is to use a format switch in the merge field, in the following manner:

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate\@"MM/DD/YYYY"} > "02/26/1981" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

This puts the incoming information into a comparable format. The results you get from this approach may depend, however, on characteristics of the data source, independent of Word. You could also try putting the dates into a year-first format, such as the following:

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate\@"YYYY/MM/DD"} > "2011/02/26" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

If the comparison still yields inconsistent results, then the only solution may be to do a mathematical conversion on the date (actually, on both Birthdate and the reference date) so that you have an actual numeric comparison. You can do this by converting the date into a Julian value, which requires a very complex merge field, like the one shown here:

{IF {QUOTE {SET a{=INT((14-{MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ M})/12)}}
{SET b{={MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ yyyy}+4800-a}}
{SET c{={MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ M}+12*a-3}}
{SET d{MERGEFIELD BIRTHDATE \@ d}}
{SET jd{=d+INT((153*c+2)/5)+365*b+INT(b/4)-INT(b/100)+INT(b/400)-32045}}
{jd \#,0}} > 2,443,056 "over 30" "under30"}

Such an approach may look intimidating, but is just the brute-force method necessary for some instances.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9995) 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: Proper Comparisons for Dates in Merge Fields.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using the MROUND Worksheet Function

If you want to round a value to some multiple of a whole number, you'll want to become familiar with the MROUND function. ...

Discover More

Evaluating Formulas

Need a bit of help in figuring out how Excel is evaluating a particular formula? It's easy to figure out if you use the ...

Discover More

Getting Input from a Text File

You can use a macro to read information from a text file. The steps are easy, and then you can use that information in any ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Using Mail Merge to Complete Documents

Mail merge can be used to put together groups of documents that rely on common information. This tip shows how mail merge ...

Discover More

Selecting Different Trays in a Mail Merge

When you create a mail-merged document, you might want some pages of the document printed on paper from one printer tray and ...

Discover More

Beginning a Mail Merge

Performing a mail merge can be intimidating to some people. It needn't be; Word provides a handy step-by-step wizard that ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 2 + 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.