PSFS Family Directory - Mail Merge: How to create a mail merge template

How to create a mail merge template

A mail merge template is a document that you can use as a basis for creating other documents that you want to use for mass mailings, such as form letters and announcements. You can create a new template from scratch or you can open an existing document that is stored on your computer and use that document as the basis for creating a mail merge template. This article explains the merge fields and shows you how to use them to create a template.

Sections in this article 


How to create a Mail Merge template from scratch

  1. If necessary, select the desired organization from the Organization list.
  2. On the toolbar, click (Mail Merge). From the menu, select Merge Selected Records (0)The number in parentheses represents the number of records you selected from the grid. In this case, no records are selected because you are just making a template.

    The Mail Merge window opens:

  1. Select the create a new one link. 

  1. Type your text in the document text area.

  1. If desired, change the look of your document by doing the following:

    For formatting tips, go to Formatting Merge Fields.

    • Use the features on the Home tab's toolbar (see the previous illustration) to change the format and fonts used in your document. For example, use the controls to change the font and font size and to bold and italicize text. Quickly create numbered and bulleted lists, indent, center text, add headings to divide your content into sections, and change the color behind paragraphs of text.

    • Use the options on the Page Layout tab to change the design of your document. For example, change the page margins, add a background color, and create multiple columns of text. Use the Breaks option to add page breaks to the document.

  1. If desired, insert a graphic into the document.

  1. Add merge fields to the document. To do this, complete the following:
    • Click your mouse on the location where you want to insert the first merge field. The cursor marks the location, as shown in this illustration:
      Select the Mail Merge tab.
    • Click (Insert Merge Field) to open the Insert Merge Field window: 

      The Fields menu lists the merge fields you can select to insert into the document. For descriptions of the fields, go to Available Merge Fields.

      The Insert Merge Field window remains open until you click X (in the top right corner) or click Close. If the window is blocking your view, you can move it out of the way by placing your cursor at the top of the window near the title. The cursor changes to this drag icon: . Click and drag the window to the desired location. Release the mouse button to "park" the window in that location.

    •  Select the desired merge field from the Fields menu, and click Insert. The merge field is inserted in the document at the cursor location. In the following example, we inserted this merge field between the word "Dear" and the comma: <>:

      If you make a mistake, select the inserted field to highlight it, and then press Delete on your keyboard.

    • Click your mouse in the document where you want to place the next merge field. Then, go back to the Fields menu and select the desired field. Click Insert to insert it into the document.

      For example, suppose that you want to add an address block at the top of your document. Click inside the document on the line where you want to insert the address. You may need to press the Tab key to move the cursor to the far-right side of the document. Then, go back to the Fields menu and select the <
      field to insert it. Click in the document text area again and repeat the previous steps until your address block looks like something like this:
    • Repeat this process until all of the merge fields are placed in the correct positions in your template. Then, click Close to close the Insert Merge Field window.
  1. When done inserting merge fields, save the template. Choose one of the following methods:

    • Save the template to the My Templates or Global Templates folder. To do this:

      1. Select the File tab.

      2. Click (Save) or (Save As) to open the Save New Template window.

      3. In the Template Name field, type the name of the template.

      4. If you want other users to be able to view your template, select the Global checkbox to save the template in the Global Templates folder. Alternatively, leave the Global box unchecked to save the template in the My Templates folder where only you can see and use it.

      5. Select the Read Only check box if you want to lock the template. Locking a template prevents future changes from being made.

      6. Click Save.

        The template is now available for use in a mail merge. For instructions on performing a Mail Merge, go to How to perform a Mail Merge.


  • Save the template to your local computer. To do this:

    1. Select the File tab.

    2. Click (Save Local).

    3. In the Save As window, select the file type from the dropdown list.

    4. Click Download to download the file to your computer. Make note of where you saved the file.

    5. Go to the location where you saved the file. Open it, and then save it with a new name.

      The template is now available for use in a mail merge. For instructions on performing a mail merge, go to How to perform a Mail Merge.


Understanding the Merge Fields

When you create a mail merge template, you put the content together by combining your custom text with merge fields you select from Insert Merge Field menu, available in the Mail Merge program:

When you select a field from the menu, the software inserts it into your document at the cursor location and places the name of the field between angled brackets << >>. The fields function as placeholders for information extracted from fields in database records. When you run the merge process, the system replaces the merge fields with actual data, resulting in a document that appears personalized for each recipient.

With just a few clicks, you can generate a document or form letter for hundreds of members and families in your organization.


Formatting Merge Fields

You format the merge fields the same way you do the regular text in your document. Following are a few examples of ways to format the appearance of information brought into your document by a merge field.

Inserting a Comma

If you want to put a comma after a merge field, simply insert the merge field and then type the comma, as shown in this example:

Dear <>,

Inserting a Space

If you want to add a space between merge fields, insert the first field, press the spacebar on your keyboard to insert the space, and then insert the next field. For example:

<> <>

Moving the Insertion Point to the Next Tab Stop

If you want to move your cursor to a tab spot to enter a merge field, keep pressing the >Tab key until the cursor is in the right location. Then, insert the merge field. You can use this method to create an address block in a form letter. For example:

Press the Tab key to move the insertion point to the right side of your letter. Then, insert the desired address fields: <

>, <
>, <>, <>, and <>. Use the Enter key and the Tab key to line up the fields correctly and be sure to insert the correct punctuation between merge fields:


<>, <> <>

Applying Font and Styling Options to a Merge Field

To italicize or bold a merge field, insert the merge field. Select the merge field, and then go to the Home tab and click (Italicize) or (Bold). If you want to apply both styles simultaneously, select the merge field, and then click both buttons to create the desired effect, as shown in this example:

Dear <>,

To change the capitalization style of the text brought in by a merge field, select the merge field. Then, go to the Home tab and click . From the displayed menu, select the style you want to use.


Available Merge Fields

Before creating a mail merge template, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the merge fields available. The table below lists the merge fields you can insert into your documents. These fields pull actual data values from the Family Directory database. Examples of actual data are listed in the last column.

Merge Field


Examples of Merged Data


Formal mailing name (name used on correspondence with the member). This name typically includes the individual's title.

Mr. Jack Feinstein

Ms. Elizabeth Hanson


Member's first and last name only.

William Aabbey

Melinda Acosta


Formal name including the title. For example, Mr., Dr., or Professor.

Dr. Shaquille O'Neal

Professor Garfield

Mr. and Mrs. Kukulka


Family's last name.




First names of members.





Main address including the street number and name.

825 Victor's Way



Extra address line that shows an apartment, suite, or building number.

Apt. 143

Suite 2000


Name of the city for the family's home residence.

Ann Arbor

Traverse City


State or region for the family's home residence.


New Jersey

<< Postal Code>>

Postal or ZIP code.




Expanded zip code consisting four extra digits at the end of the zip code that determines a specific location within that zip code.



Unique nine-digit code that represents the carrier route used by the US Postal Service mail delivery system.



Family's email address.


Family's principal telephone number.



Family's envelope number.




Registration status.

True (registered)

False (not registered)


Date the member's registration took effect.



A unique value assigned at the parish level to identify a family within the parish organization only.



A unique value assigned at the diocesan level to identify a family.



A unique value used to identify the family. This field appears in the family record if the organization the family belongs to is set up to use the Diocesan ID instead of the Family DUID to identify families. (This setup is done in the Administration module.)



Group to which the family belongs.





A shortcode that represents a specific location on the earth. A location's map code consists of two groups of letters and digits separated by a dot.




The ID of the organization in which the family is registered.



Name of the organization in which the family is registered.

Little Flower

Church of the Transfiguration


Related Articles

How to create a Mail Merge template from an existing document

How to perform a Mail Merge

How to manage Mail Merge templates

How to edit the contents of a Mail Merge template


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