Word 2011 for Mac: Filling in Data for a Mail Merge - dummies

Word 2011 for Mac: Filling in Data for a Mail Merge

By Geetesh Bajaj, James Gordon

In Office 2011 for Mac, mail merge works by bringing data stored in a data table into Word 2011. A good data table’s first row (and only the first row) has the headers, also called fields or column names. All subsequent rows contain data. There are no merged cells in a data table, and there are no completely empty rows or columns, although empty cells are allowed.

Word can use many different data sources to perform a mail merge:

  • A table in Word.

  • An Excel worksheet or data range.

  • A FileMaker Pro database file.

  • Advanced users can use ODBC and VBA to connect to practically any data source, including Microsoft Access, SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL.


If you don’t have a data table, the New Data Source option lets you make a data table from scratch in a new Word document using a series of dialogs. This option is fine for small databases up to a few thousand records.

Choosing fields for a mail merge data source

When you choose New Data Source, you’re presented with the Create Data Source dialog. First, you define fields for your new data. By default, you’re presented with some commonly used fields. In the Placeholder List field, you can type new header names and add them to the list by clicking the Add Placeholder button.


When you’re done choosing field names, click the OK button and you will be prompted to save the new Word document. Give your new data source a name and then save the file.

Filling in the data for your mail merge in Word 2011 for Mac

As soon as your file is saved, you’ll be presented with an easy-to-use database input form called Data Form.


The left side of Data Form shows your field names. Drag the scroll bar if all the fields don’t fit in the dialog. In the center column, you type the data entries for the current record. The current record’s number is shown in the Record navigation at the bottom of the Data Form.

In the Data Form dialog, press Tab or the down-arrow key to advance to the next field within a record. Press Shift-Tab or the up-arrow key to select the previous field.

When working with your data table in Word, you can edit directly in the table. Turn on the database toolbar by choosing View→Toolbars→Database from the menu bar.


Don’t let bullies try to say you shouldn’t do these things in Word. If you like Word and are comfortable with these tools, it’s perfectly fine to use Word for a basic database. You can use the Tables tab of the Ribbon with the Database toolbar to manage your table’s style, options, and borders.