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  1. #1
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    Word XP (Mail Merge)

    I absolutely hate the Mail Merge Task PaneI and can't believe Microsoft thought this was a better way than previous verions. I thought I read somewhere that it's possible to configure Word so that you don't have to use the Task Pane for a Mail Merge, in essene I way to use the previous Mail Merge functions but in XP. Can anyone help?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    You can create a macro in your Normal.dot

    Public Sub StartMailMerge()
    Dialogs(wdDialogMailMergeHelper).Show
    End Sub

    and assign it to a custom toolbar button and/or menu option. It'll display the old merge dialog.

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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    I could not agree more. Another option - If you open the mail merge toolbar and select the toolbar options - (far right down pointing arrow head). and then select add or remove buttons, mail merge, you will note at the bottom that the 'insert merge field' is not selected. This is the one which was always available previously and is different to 'insert merge fields' which is on the toolbar.

    Select this one (which means you can click and select fields as you want them and put punctuation easily in between). I also deselect
    'insert an address box', 'insert a greeting line', 'insert Merge fields'

    I then arrange the toolbar so that the buttons are available as follows: 'Main document set up', 'Open data source', 'Mail Merge receiptients' (if I want to create a query), 'insert merge field', 'insert word field'. This then pretty much puts the toolbar back to how it was originally, I then work from, left to right.

    Quickest way to rearrange toolbar is to hold down your Alt Key and then click and drag to new positions, or indeed drag off to remove.

    If you want to return it to how is was before rightclick toolbar area (or select tools menu), select customise, select toolbar tab, click mail merge toolbar and then selet reset (top right).

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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    I couldn't agree with you more. I had the same feeling when I tried to use it for the first time. I just wanted to add that I also added the Mail Merge Helper button to my toolbar.
    I did this by going into ToolsCustomize, then clicking the command tab and choosing the ALL COMMANDS category
    and then scrolling through to find the MAILMERGE HELPER button
    (A lot of users don't realize the button is still available because it's not listed in the MailMerge cateogry where it should be)
    Drag this button to the Mail Merge toolbar
    This button along with the Insert Merge Field that was mentioned earlier turns the mailmerge toolbar back to the way it was in previous versions.
    It works great. I use it all the time.

  5. #5
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    Thank goodness I'm not the only one who finds this such a ridiculous way of doing things!! With all the good advice here and from Hans I've edited the Mailmerge toolbar (and reintroduced the Mail Merge Helper to the merge menu, too) in my users' normal.dots, so there's only one thing left - how do I stop the mail merge task pane from coming up whenever someone starts a merge?!

    An answer to that question will be the icing on the cake!

    Many thanks!
    Beryl M


  6. #6
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    You could replace the Mail Merge Wizard menu item (in Tools | Letters and Mailings) with a custom menu item that invokes the mail merge helper. In my experience the task pane doesn't appear spontaneously - does it in yours?

    (I actually like the mail merge task pane)

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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    Hi Hans, yes, you mentioned in another post that you've got used to the task pane - but also admitted that you hated it to start with! We're still at the hating it stage so far ...!

    I've actually just reintroduced the Mail Merge Helper to the menu so I didn't need to do any custom stuff, and yes, it d**m well does appear spontaneously in ours!

    However, I've discovered that if you turn it off when you have a merge document open, it doesn't come back - so at some point you must have got fed up with it and switched it off, too, if it doesn't come up for you!
    <img src=/S/rofl.gif border=0 alt=rofl width=15 height=15>
    Beryl M


  8. #8
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    Hi Beryl,

    There was a thread some months ago (4-6?) where someone else had the same reaction as people on this thread (maybe it can be dug up). I responded there saying there were plusses and minuses to the new MM wizard. Although I don't recall all I said there, below are some thoughts. On that other thread, the person originating it, if I recall, did say some of the hatred had something to do with just trying new things. By the way, I ran 2 sessions in my computer club on the old and new MM approaches - most people felt there were more plusses for the new MM approach than minuses (issue of being forced to adopt new things aside).

    The new MM Task Pane makes it infinitely easier to switch data sources. For example, I have an Excel spreadsheet set up for each of the algebra classes I teach. Within each file is a sheet with a DB of info that pulls info from other sheets (student name, test grades, lab average, days absent, etc). I have one main Word document. that is used to create a status report to hand out to my students by merging the Excel DB for the class into the Word document. With the new MM Task Pane, it is trivial to change the data source. With the old MM Wizard, as I recall (I'm off it entirely), you had to change the name of the data source file in Windows to get Word to complain about it not being available, thus querying you to provide a new data source. This is probably one of the biggest plusses in the new MM Task Pane.

    The new approach changed what used to be called a catalog to now be called a Directory. I'm usually not one for changing names for change's sake. In this case, I don't see much benefit in terms of changing the name of what the thing is called. So I consider this a minus.

    In the new approach, you have to click thru each step to get to the next. With the wizard, you could pick the steps in any order you wanted (even though it may not always make sense to do anything other than go in sequence). The MM Wizard also went thru an evolution - going from 4 steps to 3 steps (or was it vice versa?) and people complained then too. I also don't view this as a big minus, although it's a nuisance.

    The ability to Edit the Recipient list by filtering records to be merged in Step 3 of the MM Task Pane is very cool (lots of people in my club liked this one). It almost like a mini Excel Spreadsheet. Although I'm not a 100% sure, I think the old Wizard's approach to filtering records was not anywhere as robust and flexible.

    If you want to type a new list, you can do so. The list is saved as an Access DB with the new MM Task Pane rather than a Word Table with the old MM Wizard. One of the things I don't recall is whether you could still create a Word table outside of the Task Pane and use that as your source, as you could with the old Wizard. I think you can but it would be a crime if you could not. I don't usually story my data sources in a Word table anyway.

    I think one area where the new MM Task Pane is not as good as the old wizard is when it comes to adding your MM fields. With the old approach, the list of fields was one click a way in a drop-down on the MM toolbar; so it was relatively easy to add a field (the drop-down then closed) and reposition your cursor for the next field. With the new approach, you have to go thru several clicks to get to the list of MM fields, so I've resorted to choosing whatever I need while the menu is open and then moving them around when I'm back in the document. This is a place where a bi-modal dialog box (if I have my terminology straight) would have been VERY useful.

    The MM Task Pane gives you some canned formats or field combinations, like greeting lines, etc. While that's nice, it doesn't do anything for me since I rarely used canned formats. But what is nice is that if you named your field something like FNAME and the canned format is looking for First-Name, you can do a match of the two rather than renaming your field or foregoing the use of the canned format. So even this is an improvement over what existed previously but of little value to me.

    Previewing your document and completing the merge are pretty much unchanged. As I recall, it was at the time of completing the merge with the Wizard that you edited the recipient list. It's more logical here.

    My bottom line: the Task Pane is more logically organized and certainly gives you capabilities that you didn't have before. I too was resistant to the change when I first saw it. A friend told me that it was the same information but just laid out differently. He thought the new approach better than the old too. As you can see, I don't even remember the old approach that well anymore.

    HTH

    Fred

  9. #9
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    > One of the things I don't recall is whether you could still create a Word table outside of the Task Pane and use that as your source

    You can create a Word table, or an Excel worksheet, or a text file, or any other kind of data source in advance, then specify it as data source in Step 3 of the Mail Merge task pane - click Browse... to select the data source.

    > I think one area where the new MM Task Pane is not as good as the old wizard is when it comes to adding your MM fields.

    As described elsewhere in this forum, you can add the old Insert Merge Field dropdown to the Mail Merge toolbar, it's much more convenient than the new modal dialog.

  10. #10
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    Hans,

    I saw both of the items after my post in the various other threads.

    Fred

  11. #11
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    Re: Word XP (Mail Merge)

    Hi Beryl,

    See my <post#=499808>post 499808</post#> from July 15 for my other post that I referenced in my first response to you.

    Also in the newer versions of MM (starting with XP?), there is a button on the MM Toolbar called Propogate Labels. This allows you to set up a label from a selection of the usual label formats and then click the Propogate button to get a whole page of labels with the same text you typed in just the first label. This has nothing really to do with the debate on MM Task Pane vs MM Helper, but thought I'd mention it.

    Fred

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