How to Mail merge in Excel (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Mail merge in Excel (A Step-by-Step Guide)

- Published: - 9 minutes read

Mail merge is a built-in Excel feature that lets you send customized emails to hundreds or even thousands of recipients. In this quick guide, we’ll show you how to mail merge in Excel. So that you can get more replies. And save time.

Imagine. You want to send out an email to invite multiple recipients to an upcoming event. And you know that a generic email won’t cut it.

So you decide to personalize your message. Making sure to address each of your recipients by their first name.

If you want to invite 5 people, this shouldn’t be a problem. You can simply write each email. And send them manually.

But what if you want to invite 50, 500 or even 5,000 people? This is going to take an absurd amount of time. Unless you learn how to mail merge in Excel.

What is Mail Merge in Excel?

Mail merge is a powerful Microsoft Excel feature that lets you send personalized emails. To multiple recipients. In a matter of minutes.

Instead of writing a different email for each recipient (which would be way too long), you can create a template email in Word. And link it with an Excel Spreadsheet.

Microsoft will then fetch your data in Excel (first names, email addresses, company names…). And use it to personalize your template email in Word.

This changes everything. Because you can use Excel’s mail merge feature to send customized messages. Effortlessly. And at scale.

Your recipients will feel like your email was written specifically for them. Which will in turn lead to higher response rates.

Sounds good? Then let’s see how you can use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to set up your mail merge data.

How to mail merge in Excel?

To create a mail merge, you need 2 things. A template email. And a source of data. So we’ll use 2 apps. Microsoft Word. And Excel.

1. Compose your template email in Word

Let’s start with your email template. The easiest way to create one is to open a new Microsoft Word document on your computer.

Create your template email in Microsoft Word

Navigate to the Mailings menu. Click on Start Mail Merge. And then select Email messages.

Start your mail merge in Word

Compose your email in your Microsoft Word document. Use placeholders such as [first name] whenever you want to personalize your email.

Here’s how it looks ⤵️

Mail merge example

2. Set up your mail merge data in Excel

The next step is to prepare your mail merge data. To do that, go to Microsoft Excel. And open a new spreadsheet.

Open a new Excel spreadsheet

Create a new row for each recipient in your mail merge. And a new column for each field you want to personalize.

Make sure that the column names in your spreadsheet match the field names you want to insert in your mail merge.

In this example, we’ll create 5 columns, since we have 5 different placeholders in our template email:

  • First name
  • Guest
  • Topic
  • Conference
  • City

And we’ll add one more column with all of your recipients’ email addresses. You’ll need it later.

We’ll now fill each column with the relevant data. Once this is over, your Excel spreadsheet should look something like this ⤵️

Prepare your mail merge in Excel

Before moving on to the next step, make sure that all the data you want for your mail merge is located on the first sheet of your Excel spreadsheet.

And that data entries with postal codes, percentages or currencies are correctly formatted in your spreadsheet. Otherwise Microsoft Word won’t be able to read them.

Which brings us to the third step. Once you’re happy with your Excel spreadsheet, you can save it on your device. And go back to your Word document.

From there, click on Select Recipients. Pick Use an Existing List. Navigate to your Excel spreadsheet. And click on Open.

Mail merge from Excel to Word

You’ve now linked your mail merge data (i.e. your Excel spreadsheet) with your template email (i.e. your Word document).

Which means you’re ready to mail merge. To do that, click on Insert Merge field. And replace all your placeholders with the corresponding merge fields.

For example, on the screenshot below, we selected the placeholder. And we replaced it with the «Guest» merge field.

Insert merge fields

4. Send your Excel mail merge

When you’re done inserting your merge fields, you can preview the results of your mail merge. This will help you avoid mistakes like this one ⤵️

Mail merge Excel mistake

To get a sneak peek of what your Excel mail merge will look like, go to your Microsoft Word document and click on Preview Results.

You can then use the Previous and Next arrows to preview each email individually and check for errors.

Preview your Excel mail merge in Word

Once you’re happy with the results of your mail merge in Excel, you can click on Finish & Merge. And select Merge to email.

Finish your Excel mail merge

In the pop-up window, click on the To field. And select the name of the column that contains your recipients’ email addresses in your Excel spreadsheet.

Send your Excel mail merge

You can then type the subject line of your Excel mail merge. And click on Email Merge to Outbox.

Excel mail merge subject line

Congratulations, you’ve just mail merged in Excel 🎉 Your emails will now automatically be sent from your Outlook account.

Excel mail merge limitations

However, keep in mind that Excel’s mail merge feature is not perfect. Here are some of the limitations you may encounter ⤵️

  • You can’t send that many emails – Like most email service providers, Outlook limits the number of email you can send. You can’t email more than 1,000 new contacts per day.
  • You can’t track your emails – Microsoft doesn’t provide you with any tools to monitor the results of your email campaigns. So you won’t know who opened or clicked your emails.
  • You can’t attach files to your mail merge – Want to attach a video, a PDF or a slideshow to your mail merge? We’ve got bad news for you. You can’t add attachments when you mail merge in Excel.
  • You can’t manage unsubscribes – When you send a mail merge from an Excel spreadsheet, you have no way of managing unsubscribe requests. So people can’t opt out of your emails. And they’re more likely to flag you as spam.

Fortunately, there are other alternatives out there. For example, did you know that you can mail merge using Excel’s fiercest rival? It’s safer, faster, and easier.

How to mail merge in Google Sheets

In this last section, we’ll show you how to send mass personalized emails with Google Sheets. And why it’s a (much) better mail merge alternative than Excel.

For starters, you’ll need to install the (free) Mailmeteor add-on. You can find it on the Google Workspace Marketplace.

Mailmeteor add-on

You can then go to Google Sheets. Open a new spreadsheet. And prepare your mail merge data.

Just like before, you’ll need to create a new row for each recipient. And a new column for each field you want to customize.

Mail merge in Google Sheets

Once your mail merge data is ready, go to Extensions. Select Mailmeteor. And click on Open Mailmeteor.

Open the Mailmeteor add-on

A new window will appear. From there, select an existing template. Or click on Create a new template.

Create a new template email

Write your email as you normally would. Insert variables wherever you want to personalize your message. Add a great subject line. And click on Save template.

Save your template email

You can now preview your emails. And click on Send emails to finish your mail merge in Google Sheets.

Send your mail merge from Google Sheets

See? That was easy. Our free plan lets you send up to 50 emails per day. Why not give it a try?

And if you need to send more emails, check out our premium plans. You’ll be able to send up to 2,000 emails per day.

You’ll also unlock exclusive new features, such as email tracking, auto follow-ups, html templates… And more.

Happy emailing :)

This guide was written by Paul Anthonioz, content editor at Mailmeteor. Mailmeteor is a simple & privacy-focused emailing software. Trusted by millions of users worldwide, it is often considered as the best tool to send newsletters with Gmail. Give us a try and let us know what you think!

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