Send Personalized E-Mails Using Word's Mail Merge Tool

I frequently send e-mails to clients reminding them of deadlines or special services. To protect the recipients’ identities I use the Bcc (blind copy) in the address box. While that approach is OK, the message still appears somewhat like a cheesy broadside advertisement because the e-mails aren’t personalized with a Dear George Smith, for example. However, to personalize each one would take too much time. There’s got to be a better way. Can you help?

There is a better way. As you know, Outlook can use Word for word processing, and that gives you access to Word’s Mail Merge tool, which fortunately adapts itself easily to producing personalized e-mails as well as letters, envelopes and labels. And the good news is that the tool works the same as a standard Mail Merge and equally well in both Office 2007 and 2003. In other words, it lets you generate personalized e-mails, addressing them from a choice of contact lists—such as Outlook or an Excel spreadsheet, among others.

To launch Outlook’s Mail Merge, start by typing your message in Word and then, if you’re using Office 2007, click on the Mailings tab in the ribbon; if you’re using Word 2003, click on Tools, Letters and Mailings. The Mail Merge wizard screens look different in the 2003 and 2007 versions, but they contain practically the same instructions (see screenshots below).

Word 2007 Mail Merge

Word 2003 Mail Merge

Then just follow the wizard as it takes you through all the setup steps. When the wizard asks you to select the recipients of the e-mail, you have several choices: You can select them from your Outlook contacts list, an Excel spreadsheet, or you could type them in.

The next step is to add the appropriate fields that personalize the greeting (see screenshot below).

The Word 2007 screen

The Word 2003 screen

Once you click on OK, the fields for the greeting lines and any other information you added can be reviewed. When you’re satisfied, click on Finish and Send E-mail Messages. Outlook automatically takes it from there, adding the names and addresses for each message and sending them along.


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.