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: Can't Place Merge Field in Header Of a Catalog Merge Document.

Can't Place Merge Field in Header of a Catalog Merge Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 29, 2014)

Christy asked why she couldn't get Word to place merged data into the header of a document when creating a catalog. Word would work just fine when creating form letters, but not when doing catalogs.

There are several different types of merge operations you can do in Word. The Mail Merge feature allows you to create labels, envelopes, form letters, and catalogs. Understanding the differences between creating form letters and creating catalogs is essential in understanding why you can't insert merge data in a header or footer.

When you create form letters, Word creates a new letter (document) for each record in your data source. It separates each letter by a section break. When you create a catalog, Word doesn't have this one-to-one equivalence between sections and data records. Catalogs are designed to have multiple records per page—just like product entries in a printed catalog.

Let's say you place the data field "Part Number" in the header of a catalog merge document. Further, Word is able to place fifteen actual records on the final merged page. Exactly which part number is Word supposed to place in the header of the page? It has fifteen to choose from, since it placed fifteen records on the page. Because there is no on-to-one correspondence between records and sections, Word can't place the data in the header or footer.

One way around this, of course, is to utilize Word's fields. Instead of placing a data field in the header, place a field that references the first or last occurrence of a style on a page (the STYLEREF field). For instance, you could format your part numbers so they used a particular heading level. Your header or footer could then reference that style, so the merged document would show the first or last part number on a particular page.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10444) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Can't Place Merge Field in Header Of a Catalog Merge Document.

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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