Make sure your data has headers and that data is organized in the way you'll want it to appear when you're pulling data into your form.
- [Instructor] In step one, we identified where we wanted our recipient list, also known as the data source, to come from and that was a contact list in Excel. Now, we need to make sure it's in good condition to do a mail merge. In other words, tidying it up. The mail merge document is going to be looking for placeholders. This means this Excel file has to have this header row of field names. If it doesn't have one, and I'm going to go ahead and delete this. For example, if you ended up with a list like this, you can just create your own. You can do that by selecting the first row and in Excel, clicking insert. This is going to insert a brand new row and from here you can give them common names. For example, I could write first name or I could also write first and last. This is an email address so I'll call it email. Phone and address. And I'll make them a little bit bigger and bold face just so that you can see them a little more clearly. It's also okay if your Excel file has way more fields than this, as in extra columns of things that you don't necessarily need for your mail merge. You don't have to delete them, the process will just ignore those fields. For example, we aren't going to use the phone number in our merge, but it's okay to keep it here. Your Excel file may also look a little bit different in the way the data is presented. For example, here I have a first name field and a last name field. That's just the way the data exported. You may only have one single name field that contains both the first and the last name. That's fine. You may also have one address line field instead of it all being split up and that's okay too. If for any reason you do need these split up or the first and last name split up or joined together, you can absolutely do that using Excel functions and we do have courses on that so all is not lost if this is too simple for your needs. Excel is so powerful, you could almost always get the data how you need it, but I did want to keep it on the simple side for this exercise. There is one very common Excel gotcha that I want to tell you about so that you can watch out for it. It's here in the zip code column. Now notice that this cell only has four characters. It's missing that leading zero. And that's a common issue when data gets exported from an app into Excel. We can fix this. I'm going to start by clicking and dragging to select all those zip codes. From here, on the home ribbon tab, I'll click the dropdown next to general. I'll select more number formats. And in the dialog box that pops up, under category, I'm going to select special and you'll notice the first option is a zip code field. I'll select that and click okay and now you'll notice that it's added that leading zero back in. So we've changed the data type and now it's ready to go. This looks good so I'm ready to save it. I'll click the save button and I've gone into depth like this about these headers in Excel, because it's such a good skill that you can take with you to other apps. For example, exporting data from another source and you might need that to get your list of contact information so that you can do a mail merge. For example, you might want to export contacts from Gmail or Quickbooks or even Outlook itself. The process is the same. You need those headers, they need to have identifiable labels on them, and they need to be formatted in a way that's going to be clear to you and to get the data that you need on those merged documents.