Monday, January 23, 2012

Mail Merge Mania

Mail merge was the bane of my existence this weekend. I know it might seem ridiculous that a computer-savvy(ish) person from the computer generation who has worked in an office-setting for 5+ years (ew, really?) didn’t know how to use mail merge already- but- er… I didn’t?

I knew immediately this would be an annoying freaking task, mostly because many things involving Excel/Word give me a migraine. I somehow ALWAYS miss one teeny little thing in a formula or miss a measly step in a step-by-step guide, therefore screwing myself over, shouting into the computer’s ear-less face, and having to start over.

Let me start by saying we decided not to pay for a calligrapher, and decided to go with making clear labels for the envelopes for a few lame reasons. One, I could not justify the cost of paying someone to write pretty on my envelopes when that envelope is going to end up right in the trash. I wish I could justify it because I love all things pretty paper/stationary/swirly handwriting, but I come from a world where I could never see the value in it. Two, I was going to attempt some form of calligraphy, but when I sent Mr. P a cell-phone photo of my grandest attempt, he responded (and I quote), “it looks like my 6 year old cousin wrote that.” Um, thanks. Negative five points for him! And, lastly, I am the Queen of Procrastination and we are short on time here people!

Anywho, Mr. P and I headed over to my parents after work on Friday night (since our printer has a horrendous tick- literally. It should seek medical attention or get tossed out the window.) I had e-mailed myself my Excel grid of addresses, sat down in front of Word, and brought up the step-by-step directions in the help guide. I can’t give you clearer instruction than what Mr. Microsoft himself provides. The instructions are pretty decent. But, here are a few of my fails to avoid.


  1. My Excel grid had RIDICULOUS spaces that I made for my own brain’s logic. IE: It made no sense to have those spaces there. So, I had to delete EVERY SINGLE space in my Excel grid from hell. So, do not have ANY spaces between any rows or columns.
  2. I was smart enough to make separate columns for every necessary field. For instance “Name,” “Address,” “City,” yada, yada. You get the deal. BUT, do NOT forget to make the ZIP CODE column formatted for ZIP CODES. I left this as “General” like a FOOL, and somehow in the first attempt at merging it turned half the zip codes into numbers like this: 1.34.35093.54093.03490. THAT IS NOT A ZIP CODE!! So, I had to start anew (from the whole deleting of spaces step).
  3. Buy the right labels. Yea, my labels were too god damn small. 20 to a sheet. The font was the size of a baby tadpole. So, back to Staples we went.
  4. When you think it’s too hard, you’re making it too hard. It’s actually quite easy. Don’t read too much into the instructions (like I did at first).
  5. Do it on a Mac if you can. I have a Mac. But somehow in my idiocy I thought it would make more sense to use a Microsoft product on a PC as the computer lords intended. I went home to fiddle with mail merge again (since we couldn’t print that night because of the label sizing issue) and, bam, it worked in 9 seconds thanks to Mail Merge Manager. Why do I ever try to defy Mac? Mac knows all and laughs in the face of PCs.
  6. Check your ink. Because, yes, that’s right folks, with three pages of labels to go we ran out of ink.
In all reality, mail merge is not difficult. For those who already know how to do it for years, you are probably chuckling at my spaztastic problems. The instructions make it pretty simplistic so it’s really nothing to sweat over. Just make sure your guest list is crisp and ready. That is the only place you will falter.

And, yes, the invitations are ALMOST out and ready for their reveal!

Are you a mail merge pro? Did anyone else learn mail merge for the sake of labeling their invitations?

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