Using Query Options in a Word Mail Merge
As your database grows it is increasingly likely that you will want to
send mailings to selected people rather than to everyone on the list. Word
provides a tool to help you specify which members of your mailing list are
included in a mail merge… Query Options.
About Query Options
Query Options makes use of information contained in the database
itself, combined with rules that you set up, to select particular records
to include in the mail merge. This means that, in order to make use of
Query Options, your criteria for including or excluding people from your
mailing must depend upon something that is referred to in the data.
For example, you may wish to mail only to people in a certain town
(using the Town field to get the information), or perhaps companies
whose names fall in a certain part of the alphabet (using the Company
field to get the information).
Preparing the Merge Document
Start by creating your mail merge document in the normal way. When you
are ready to run the merge choose Query Options to open the Query Options
You will find a button for Query Options in the mail merge helper window,
and another in the merge window. They both do the same thing.
The Query Options dialog box is in two parts. One lets you specify how
you want your records filtered, the other lets you specify how (if at all)
you want your records sorted. You can use either or both.
Defining a Filter
We'll start with the Filter Records tab. This presents you with a grid
into which the filter criteria can be entered.
row of the grid represents a single criterion or condition.
The grid section is divided into three columns, Field:, Comparison:
and Compare to:.
Field: provides a drop-down list of all the fields in your
database. You don't need to have used all these fields in the body of your
letter - certain fields might exist solely for the purpose of selecting
records. Choose the appropriate field from the list. In this example I am
choosing to mail to clients in a particular town. That information is to
be found in the Town field.
Comparison: provides another drop-down list with a number of
expressions (known as "operators") which instruct word how to
make its decision about each particular record. I want Word to match
records to a particular town so I have chosen Equal to.
Compare to: is a text box in which you type what is essentially
the answer to the question "Compare to what?" I have
typed the name of my chosen town.
The Filter Records section is also divided into several rows. This
allows you to add further criteria to your filter and create a multiple
selection rule. Supposing I wanted to further confine my mailing to
clients whose names begin with letters from the first half of the
Note that And has been chosen to link the two criteria (as
opposed to Or). This means that Word will only include those
records that can specify both criteria. In other words, to be
included in the mailing the company must have a London address and
its company name must fall within the range A - M.
When creating multiple selection criteria it is important to make the
correct decision about whether to choose And or Or to link
them. If I wanted to mail to clients in either of two towns I must choose "Or".
If I chose "And" Word would look for addresses that
contained both towns - and wouldn't find any!
Things get a bit more complicated when you need to specify multiple
criteria relating to different fields. The best way to check if you've got
it right is to read it out loud and see if it makes sense!
Look at the example above. Suppose I wanted to further refine this
filter to choose only those companies with names in the range A - M. You
might think it sufficient to add a third row specifying "And…
Company… Less than… N". Wrong!
What you would get would be "Town equal to London" or "Town
equal to Manchester and Company less than N". The And on
the third line would only link it to the line above.
The correct way to define the filter is shown below. It means "Town
equal to London and Company less than N" or "Town equal
to Manchester and Company less than N".
Your filter can contain up to six rows of instructions.
If you find it difficult to construct a suitable filter, you may find
it useful to add one or more fields to your database that can be used to
classify the various members of your mailing list. These fields would not
necessarily be utilised in the merge document itself, but would be a great
help when designing the filter.
Defining a Sort
Although you don't have to make use of the Sort Records option,
it can be a very useful tool. Mailing lists tend to grow and change, and
end up arranged in no particular order. The Sort Records option allows you
to request that documents be printed in a particular order regardless of
the arrangement of the original data.
If you don't ask for a particular sort order, the documents will be
printed in the order that the records occur in the database.
can choose to sort by up to three different fields, and each can be sorted
in ascending (A - Z) or descending (Z - A) order. Simply choose the
appropriate field(s) from the drop-down list.
Remember, if you want to print your whole mailing list in a particular
order, you can use Sort Records without using Filter Records. When you
have finished specifying the query options, click <OK> to
return to the mail merge helper or the merge window. You are now ready to
run the merge.
TIP: If you use mail merge to create letters, then again to print
labels or envelopes for the same mailing, remember to use the same sort
order for both! You don't want to waste time trying to match letters with
Choosing How Many Records to Merge
The Merge window contains a further option to let you specify how many
records are merged.
If you have a large mailing list and would rather perform the merge in
stages, you can ask for a particular batch of records to be merged now and
merge the rest at another time.
For example, if you have 200 names on your mailing list, you could ask
for records 1 - 50 today, 51 - 100 tomorrow, 101 - 150 the next day and so
on. This also avoids tying up the printer with one very long job.