Mail Merge – without the address block

When you use the Tools –>  Mail Merge Wizard in OpenOffice, it is quite limiting in that you are restricted to ending up with an address block. The way to insert other fields is not as obvious.

I have put together the tutorial below to guide you through my way of tackling a requirement of inserting fields in a document that are merged from a separate data source. These fields do not necessarily fill up an address section, but may be used in other parts of the document.

Assumed software: OpenOffice v.2.0 (minimum)

STEP 1: The Data Source

Have a spreadsheet (either MS Excel or OpenOffice Calc) with the data ready. You can use other data sources, however for the sake of this exercise, we will use a spreadsheet.

Data Source

STEP 2: Set up the merge document

This is the document which you will be using as the basis for the merge. Type it out in Writer with all the spaces provided for the data that you wish to merge. In the example below, I have three spaces – next to ”Dear”, ”Username” and ”Password”.

Merge Document

STEP 3 – Connect the data source

Click on Insert –> Field –> Other…

Then click on the Database Tab, and then click on the ”Browse” button and select the spreadsheet you wish to use as your data source. (Click on the image below for a larger version)

Database data source

[Click on the file above to enlarge screenshot]

This will add the data source to the list.

STEP 4 – Insert the fields from the data source in to your form/letter.

Insert Fields

(1) Select ”Mail Merge Fields” (see picture above)

(2) Then in the right hand pane, click on the ”+” sign next to the spreadsheet name, and the sheet name, until you can see the heading names from your data source.

Insert Fields

[click on the above screen shot to see this enlarged – repeat items 3, 4 & 5 from this step until you have added all the fields to your document]

(3) Click on the name of the field you want to insert into the document

(4) Click on the space in the document where you want the field to appear

(5) Click on insert

When you have inserted all the fields in the document, close the insert fields box (click on ”Close”) and you should be able to see the fields in your document, something like the following.

Fields inserted in document

Now you are ready to merge.

STEP 5 – Perform the Merge

Select Tools –> Mail Merge Wizard

When the wizard window pops up, select ”Use the current document”

Mail merge

Then on the left side of the box, click on ”Save, print or send” (highlighted below).

Mail merge

You will then get a window that states ”creating documents…”

Creating Documents

Step 6: Saving and Printing the merged document(s)

From here you will need to decide if you want one large document, or many small documents… whether you will save the merged document, the original document or just print – it”s entirely up to you. My usual tendency is to save the merged document as one document, that way I can do global replace or fiddle if I need to do anything prior to printing. Once finished I usually delete the merged document.

Save, print

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Comments

  1. Howdy there,Terrific article dude! i’m Fed up with using RSS feeds and do you use twitter?so i can follow you there:D.
    PS:Do you thought about putting video to this blog to keep the visitors more interested?I think it works.Best wishes, Renna Schachsieck

  2. stephanie says:

    Renna – yes I am on Twitter – you can follow me at :
    http://twitter.com/discoveringooo

  3. Thanks. Very helpful. Open source is great but some people sure have some strange ideas about documentation and usage – mail merge wizard to put a db field on a form? What if I don’t want an address block? Gee – never thought of that. No one ever didn’t want an address block before. Then suddenly we have a wizard where you don’t have to do every step in order like every other wizard on earth (but we won’t tell anybody about that). Still, it’s pretty amazing for the price.

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