technology is your holiday card friend: mail merge envelopes!

[here is the previous post about gathering addresses for your holiday cards]

OK… now you’ve got the mailing addresses of all your lovely friends, family members, and random people you like to send greeting cards to… but how are you going to make them save you more time in your holiday routine??

By creating a mail merge of course!

Part 2) Using Mail Merge to Print your Envelopes – a step-by-step guide to making mail merge do all of your heavy envelope writing for you… even using pretty fonts and color!

Open up a new document in Microsoft Word (I’m using Office ‘07 in this example), and browse to the “Mailings” tab.


Look for the button labeled “Start Mail Merge.” Click and select “Envelopes” from the list of choices. (Notice that you can also do this with Labels, if you’re so inclined! Just follow the same steps, and you can populate a whole list of labels from your database of names!)


The window below will pop up and ask you for specific information about your envelopes. Choose the correct size of envelope, and make sure that the feed settings match those of your printer. [hint: look on your printer paper holder – it usually has an envelope icon that will point you in the right direction] Don’t worry about the font settings, as we can change those when we are editing the envelope itself.


And what you’ll end up with is something that looks like this below! I’ve hit CNTL-A (Select All) to show you where the text boxes are that you can edit in blue…. notice that they give you an area for the return address and the main addressee.



Now we’ll need to go back to our holiday database and export all of our address information so that we can import it into Word.

We will export the data by logging into your Google Documents folder, selecting the file, then navigating to FILE –> Download As –> CSV (current sheet).

Save the file in a handy location for the next step.



Now we are going to import the file into Word. From the Mailings tab, Click on “Select Recipients” and then “Use Existing List…”



Find the file that you just exported (hint: it ends in *.csv) and select it.

The following window will pop up on the screen. Leave the settings alone and click, “Ok.”


Congratulations! You’ve just imported your contact list into Microsoft Word!  Now… to actually use it as a mail merge data file we have to do a few more steps.

Go ahead and fill in your return address information by clicking in the upper left text box. This information will stay the same on all of your envelopes.

Then… Click in the middle area to find the center text box. This is where we’re going to enter the merged data!

Click on “Insert Merge Field.” All of the labels from your database will be available to you! Select one at a time to insert them into your envelope text box.


For my envelope, I chose the fields below.


Notice that they’re also formatted as I’d like them on the envelope. You can now use all of the options you want from the Home tab to customize your address. You can change the fonts and sizes, center the text, and make it any color you want!


Once you’ve made all of the adjustments to the text that you’d like, you can see what it will look like with the REAL information filled in!

Select the “Mailings” tab, and click on “Preview Results.”


You can flip through all of the records using the arrows in the “Next/Previous Record” box. Go ahead and scroll through all of them to make sure that there aren’t any issues with the formatting you’ve selected and your database records (i.e. sometimes certain names look funny).



If everything looks good, then you’re ready to print out your envelopes!

From the “Mailings” tab, click on the far right button labeled, “Finish and Merge.” Select “Print Documents.”


When the following window pops up, you’ll have the option of printing all of your envelopes at once, or selecting a certain range (hint: I like to print 4-5 envelopes at a time, so that my printer doesn’t accidentally jam, or if one of them gets messed up).


And there you have it!

Now think of all the fun things you can add to your holiday cards because you won’t be spending time writing addresses on all of them! I’ll admit that one of my pet peeves of the new photo card is simply that people plop it in an envelope and don’t even sign it or say anything…. maybe this will let you at least have the wrist dexterity to write a small note!

And think of all the amazing fonts that you can use to dress up any plain envelope!!!

Happy card holidays everyone!

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