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: Mail Merge and Data Source Documents become Unattached.

Mail Merge and Data Source Documents become Unattached

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 19, 2016)

2

Don creates quite a few mail merge documents in Word. The data source is invariably a Word document with the merge data in a table. Don can set up the mail merge document and the data source document very nicely, and everything works fine until he e-mails both documents to his clients. If the client opens the mail merge document, the data source document is no longer "attached," and the client has to go through the process of again letting Word know what to use as a data source. It doesn't matter how many times the client opens the main document; he must hunt for and "re-attach" the data source's file every single time. When Don opens the same mail merge document on my system, the data source is still associated, just as it should be.

This problem is probably related to the location of the data source document relative to the mail merge document. Word apparently saves, in the merge document, the full path name to the data source document. This means that when you send the two documents to a client, the mail merge document won't be able to find the data source document unless it is in the same path structure that it was on your original system.

One place this becomes obvious is if, for instance, you store the data source document and the mail merge document in the My Documents folder on your system. When the files are sent to the client, if they are then stored in the client's My Documents folder, then there will be a problem. Why? Because the path to the client's My Documents folder is different than the path to the My Documents folder on the original machine.

To get around the problem, try storing both the mail merge document and the data source document in either the root directory of the C: drive or in a folder within the C: drive. The client can then store the two files in the exact same location, and the connection between the two should remain intact when the mail merge document is opened.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10310) 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: Mail Merge and Data Source Documents become Unattached.

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 7 - 0?

2016-03-22 16:00:20

Julia

There must be something more than the address going on here. I opened a merge document I've used every month for 3 1/2 years with no problem. The source spreadsheet is in the same folder. Neither has ever been moved.
The Word document had lost its source. when I reconnected it, it showed the field name instead of the person name like it always has.
To answer the other poster's question, it's because Microsoft doesn't actually care about its users and doesn't check the quality before deploying its product. :(


2016-03-20 23:52:40

Supin R.

Most of the time, users keep data source documents in the same folder as the mail merge documents or in a sub-folder below it. Why doesn't they make Word try to also find the data source in the same folder as the mail merge document? Or why can't we use relative path name instead of Word always using the full path name?


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