Teacher Hack: Mail Merge for a Personal Touch

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How much do you love labeling all the things? I mean, if you’re anything like me you label, cut, laminate, label, plan, and repeat. Well, I teach at a departmentalized elementary school and I love that I can just master teaching math and really focus on being successful at it, however labeling the things personally for three different classes can be daunting! So, being the problem solver that I am, I found a way to label things with all my students names on it, without having to type 60+ names on a template every time.

What is Mail Merge?

I never knew what mail merge was until about two years ago, when I taught middle school and learned of the game changer that it is! Basically, it’s a way that you can take an excel spreadsheet, and put it on a template in Microsoft Word. The possibilities are endless! You can mail merge labels, letters, envelopes, basically anything you create in Microsoft Word, you can input the information from an Excel spreadsheet into it!

1: Where to begin?

The first thing you want to do, is create a spreadsheet in Excel. I used to be scared of Excel, but it really isn’t so bad! I have a master class list saved that I have the students first and last name, separated into two different columns. I have 4 different sheets in my Excel workbook – 3 separated by class, and one with all three classes combined on it. This is the most time consuming part of mail-merging, because you need to have all the information typed on there. It might save you time if you asked your school secretary to email you a spreadsheet with your classes, but I type fast so I just take 20 minutes to type in the information, and then I have it for the rest of the year.

2: Create a Template

After you finish typing in your information that you want on labels, you have to open Microsoft Word. Click on that “Mailings” tab that no one actually knows what to do with to create the template you want to have filled with the data from Excel. For my example, I am going to create labels for my students binders, so I’ll click “Labels.” You can click letters to create a progress report, envelopes, and email messages.

3: Now what?

You go to that Mailings tab that no one actually knows what it is for, click the drop down menu that says, “Start Mail Merge,” and it will ask you to choose a new or existing recipient list for mail merge. Remember that excel file you created earlier? Here is where it comes into play. Click “Select Recipients,” and then, “Use an Existing List.” Search for the list that you just saved in your drive and click the sheet that has the data that you want to merge.

From here, you can create anything. I’m creating labels for my students folders, so I have the template in word, so I am just going to select “First Name.” To do that, you click, “Insert Merge Field,” where you will see a drop down of the titles of the columns of the excel spreadsheet that you created.

4: Formatting the Information

You can format the inserted field the same way you would format any document on Microsoft Word, from the home tab. Something to keep in mind is make sure the next box says, “Next Record,” to ensure that the merge completes all the data on the excel spreadsheet that you created.

5: Preview & Merge

When you are finished inserting the merge fields and formatting the information the way you want it to look, you can click, “Preview” and see what it will look like. If you’re happy with the way it looks, click “Finish & Merge.” I always click “Print Documents..” and then save them as a PDF in the printing window.

I hope that this gives you more time to do fun things and spend less time typing, re-typing & typing again for cute labels! I have a YouTube channel where I will be posting a detailed tutorial complete with the steps for mail-merging , so look out for it coming soon! Happy labeling!

As always, thanks for stopping by!


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