Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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 August 2, 2016)

2

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 and 2010. 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. ...

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What is 0 + 7?

2017-08-08 09:55:58

Sarah

This was an issue I having and tried all your suggestions except the last one but I didn't get consistent results. However, if you format both dates as "YYYYMMDD" it seems to work. So, your example would look like...

{IF {MERGEFIELD Birthdate\@"YYYYMMDD"} > "20110226" "Under 30" "Over 30"}

This doesn't help Mike's issue in trying to calculate the number of days between two dates, but it seems to work as a straight comparison of dates.


2014-07-30 23:34:07

Mike

I am trying to do something very similar to the above example inside a word document that is part of a management/accounting system. I need to evaluate the days between two date merge fields and compare that difference to a value using the {if xxx "yyy"} word switch. The system does a good job comparing straight values, but the dates don't compute. I tried turning each date to values using your formula but it did not work.

Do you provide help services in such matters?

Thank you


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