Word 2002 Mail merge interface

Word 2002 made quite a number of changes to the mail merge interface. First of all, the menu commands are a level lower, under Tools/Letters and Mailings.

And there are two selections available: Mail Merge Wizard and Show the Mail Merge toolbar.

Experienced users will almost certainly prefer the toolbar, although some buttons should be added to it, in order to achieve the widest range of functionality.

The complete novice may find the Mail Merge Wizard easier to deal with, as these Task Panes do offer instructions - for those who take the time to read them J. There are six Panes, corresponding to the basic steps when setting up a mail merge:

Note that the Wizard and the toolbar can be used together, as well as separately.

Opening Mail merge doc does not display interface

Incomprehensible is Microsoft's decision to open a main merge document without displaying either the Mail Merge Wizard or the Mail merge toolbar. The user is not warned he is dealing with a mail merge document, and must go through the menus every time, in order to bring up the desired interface.

The only recourse is to an AutoOpen macro, that displays the desired interface. Such a macro could be stored in the main merge document, in the template to which it is attached, or to the Normal.dot template. Here's an example that could be in Normal.dot. It first checks whether the document being opened is a main merge document, and if so, displays the Mail merge toolbar.

Sub AutoOpen()

End Sub

Sub ToggleDisplayMergeToolbar()
    If ActiveDocument.MailMerge.MainDocumentType _
  <> wdNotAMergeDocument Then
        CommandBars("Mail merge").Visible = True
        CommandBars("Mail merge").Visible = False
    End If
End Sub

Recipients dialog box

If you use the Mail merge Wizard taskpane to open the data source, this dialog box will be displayed automatically. It provides functionality for managing the data source:

There are a number of problems with the Recipients dialog box:

Filtering data

Something Word Mail merge users have requested for years has finally been introduced: a way to select records at random from a list. The Recipients dialog box was conceived to make data source management more intuitive. Excepting the problems, it succeeds quite well.

Note for VBA Automation: The number of criteria that can be set in the Query Options is limited, because Word can't handle an SQL string longer than 510 characters. There is no way, of course, to know in advance how long the SQL will be for in any particular instance, since it depends on the length of the field names and the length of the criteria. If you want more flexibility, you can set the QueryString property using VBA. This will also allow you to create more complex queries than the user interface can support.

Note for VBA Automation: Query options generates an SQL statement for the QueryString property. The filters set in the Recipients dialog box, however, overlay this and are controlled in VBA over the Included property of the DataSource object, and related methods. These filters are not part of the SQL Statement, and are not encompassed by the 510 character limit.

Data list created in Word 2002

When you make a new list in Word 2002, an Access database is generated, and not a Word table, as in earlier versions. This has advantages

And disadvantages:

It is not difficult, however, to print out a list of records; one can simply set up a Directory type of mail merge using a one-row table, and placing the merge fields in the table cells. Merge to a new document, and there add any opening or closing information (such as a title and a row of column headers).

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