Avoid Making the Top 5 Mail Merge Errors

Wax sealed envelopes, close-up
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One drawback to using mail merge to create documents is that you run a higher risk of making more mistakes than if you created the each of your documents individually. If you are not very familiar with mail merge, the risk of making catastrophic mistakes that could screw up all your printed documents is a lot higher. That is not to say that experience mail mergers will not need to proofread their documents as well.

The following items are the top 5 mail merge mistakes that you should check your documents for before finalizing them and sending them off to print. 

1) Comprehensiveness

It is important for you to double check whether you inserted all the necessary information required for a successful mail merge. It is quite easy to overlook a field when you are creating your document. Pay particular attention to addresses and more importantly, ZIP codes.  You should also ensure that the greeting lines or other areas where you have inserted several fields in succession are all filled out correctly.

2) Accuracy

While this may seem like common sense, you would be surprised at how many people mess up their mail merges because they didn't check for accuracy.  To ensure the accuracy of your mail merge, you will need to ensure that you inserted the correct fields in the correct locations.  If you have fields with similar names, it is all too easy to insert the wrong one.

If you find you’re making this error frequently, it is a good idea to re-evaluate the names you’re giving your fields to avoid any future confusion.

3) Spacing

Spacing may not seem like the most important thing when working with mail merges, but spacing does play a significant factor.  Sometimes it is difficult to tell how many spaces you have entered in a document.

The use of mail merge fields makes it even more difficult to tell, particularly when they are close together. You may even find that you have omitted spaces altogether.  It is important to check your document to ensure that you have spaces between all the fields otherwise, the final product will just be several massive illegible run-on words.

4) Punctuation

Similarly to spacing, many people overlook the value and importance of punctuation when working with mail merges.  It is easy to overlook your punctuation when working with mail merge fields because of spacing.  You will notice that you often misplace punctuation, omit it completely, or add double punctuation when you have multiple mail merge fields in a row.

5) Formatting

The formatting of your text is one of the key mistakes that leads to a "mail merge not working" Google search.  It is important for you to check whether the formatting applied to your mail merge fields is correct.  Whether you are a newbie mail merger or you have completed hundreds of mail merges, it is important to check your mail merge fields for italicization, underlining, and bold formatting and correct them before you finalize the  Mail Merge.

Wrapping Up

This is by no means an exhaustive list of errors you can introduce in a mail merge process, but it is a good place to start.

And it goes without saying that you should proof for other errors, such as typos and misspellings, that can occur in any document. Nobody’s perfect; some people are just better at pretending they are!

Edited by: Martin Hendrikx