Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Grouping Records in a Mail Merge.

Grouping Records in a Mail Merge

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 17, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Erin wants to do a mail merge using source data that is in an Excel worksheet where it is possible for a given individual to have multiple rows of data. She notes that if she was using SQL she could use "GROUP BY" to make sure that all the records of a given individual were grouped together. She wants to "group" records so she can put all the records for a given individual into a single merge document.

This is not something that can be easily done with Word's mail merge capabilities, with one exception: You can do it if you are doing a directory-type merge. If you are doing that type of merge, you can find full information on how to group records at this Microsoft Office Support article. (Scroll down on the page and click the link for creating a directory.)

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/use-mail-merge-for-bulk-email-letters-labels-and-envelopes-f488ed5b-b849-4c11-9cff-932c49474705?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

If you are doing any other type of merge (such as merging to letters or to labels), then you are pretty much out of luck. The merge feature generally takes information as it is fed from the source document. This means that it may be best to examine the source and do any sorting, condensing, and selecting in the workbook before you do the merge. There are numerous ways that you can work with your data, including the removal of duplicate records or using macros to condense duplicate records into a single record. (Full information on some of these methods can be found on the ExcelTips site: https://excelribbon.tips.net.)

The other option is to forego Excel and place your data in a real database program, such as Access. There you can do many types of processing—just as you can with an SQL database—in order to create views of information (queries) that can be used as the source data for a Word mail merge. This would allow you to easily use the GROUP BY capabilities that you seek.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13158) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Grouping Records in a Mail Merge.

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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