Microsoft also included some new tools to aid in the setting up of merge documents. Unfortunately, they missed a couple of things that have long been on the Wishlist, such as a more intuitive way to include merge fields in the result of If fields. Here's a short rundown of what's new.
Why thein the toolbar was replaced with a dialog box that's modal (you can't click in the document while the dialog box is open) is a mystery. The dialog box is frustrating and next to useless. But with a bit of VBA, you can easily create your own dialog box, that WILL let you switch back and forth between it and the main merge document.
Using the Organizer (Tools/Macros/Organizer), you can copy the UserForm and the macro module in theto your Normal.dot template.
Up until now, the only way to specify conditional content in mail merge was to use an If field. Word 2002 introduces new switches for merge fields that enable you to include conditional text in the merge fields, as well as two completely new fields.
Using the \b and \f switches, you can define "Before" and "Following" text as part of the merge field. If the field contains data for a record, the text is displayed; otherwise, it is suppressed. This is very handy for things like spaces and paragraphs in addresses and salutations, especially considering that Word 2002 does not suppress an "empty line" if it contains an If field (as Word 97 and Word 2000 did).
Example. In the first line, no second space will appear between the first and last names if there is no middle initial. And no blank line will follow the first line, if there is no entry in the Streetaddress field.
The new AddressBlock field is a quick way to insert a block of fields that make up an address. If a merge field is empty, its display (plus "Before" and "After" text) is suppressed.
The Address Block does have some limitations. The first problem is that the interface only recognizes specific field names. If your merge fields are named differently, you first have to map them, so that Word knows which ones to use for which part of the address. You reach the mapping interface over the Insert Merge Field dialog box, by clicking the "Match fields" button.
Another problem, especially for non-U.S. addresses, is the order in which the different parts of the address are presented. There's no way to affect this in the Insert Address Block dialog box. But you can edit the AddressBlock field code, then save it as an AutoText entry so that you can re-use it.
The default construction of the field looks like this:
And here's how it can be rebuilt to display a continental European address:
Everything contained in the <<double brackets>> - such as spaces, commas and paragraph marks - is conditional, depending on whether the data field contains information. More on the field code's switches can be found in the Word 2002 Help files.
The GreetingBlock field works on the same principles as the AddressBlock, but is not suitable for non-English salutations that depend on gender unless you nest an If field in it:
When setting up a label mail merge, it was always frustrating when one found there was a mistake in the basic set up, and either had to start all over again, or to copy the label information to all the cells, being careful not to overwrite the Next field. Word 2002 changes all that, for the better, in my opinion. And if you want to add graphics to labels (even outside of mail merge), it's also gotten much easier.
Setting up the labels is confusing, at first, because unless you read the fine print in the Mail merge Wizard task pane, there's nothing to tell you where to enter the label information. It's quite simply, really:
With this button, Word takes on the task of copying all the information in that first label to all the other labels on the page.
Note: this tool can be used for setting up labels not destined to be merged. Again, set up the first label, temporarily connect any data source, and click the button. In order to remove the data source, select that option from the "Main document setup" button on the Mail merge toolbar.
Click in the middle of the page, in order to insert the recipient address information.
New users, or those accustomed to merging envelopes from the dialog box interface in an older version of Word (rather than editing it as a main merge document) are thrown off when creating envelopes in Word 2002's mail merge interface. Here, again, they're looking at a sheet on the screen with the cursor blinking in the top, left corner. They obediently enter information for the Return address, if one is desired, but are stumped as to how the Recipient address should be positioned.
What most people don't realize is, that there's a Word Frame (not to be confused with a Web Page frame!) sitting in the middle of the envelope. If they happen to have the display of non-printing characters activated, they should see a paragraph mark in the middle of the page, and may think to click there.
Note: if you don't like the position of this frame, in general, you can change it for all your envelopes.