Excel Spreadsheet in a Word document

There are three different behaviors that can result from putting an Excel spreadsheet into a Word document:

See p. 14-17 of Office Integration Chapter of Office 2003 Introductory Concepts and Techniques, in particular table on p. 17

Exporting Text Files (such as Comma Separated Values and XML) as a Data Interchange Format

If you want to send data that is in Excel or Access to someone else, most of the time they will have these programs or have programs that can import Excel or Access files. Another alternative is to export your data into a text file and send this instead and have them import the data into their application. The most common text format for this purpose has been comma-separated-value format (files typically had a csv extension) where each record appears on a new line and field values are separated by commas. Sometimes quotes are used around text values. For example, an Access table with fields first, last, and state and Bill Pegram Virginia as the first record and Bob Pegram Minnesota as the second record would export into csv format as


In the exporting process, Access gives one a choice as to whether field names will appear in the first row, and whether one should use double quotes, single quotes, or nothing around text values. An alternative to using a delimited format such as csv is to use fixed width columns.

A more recent alternative is to export into XML format where the names of fields are used before and after each data item, as shown below. Notice that the csv format is much more compact than XML due to the repetition of field names in XML.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<dataroot xmlns:od="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:officedata" generated="2005-11-30T14:32:55">

Mail Merge

Mail merge can be used for generation of form letters, labels, or emails where each letter, label, or email typically contains some information that is common to all the letters, labels, or emails, and other customized information that varies among the letters, etc., and is taken from a database. To do a mail merge in Word, one creates a document consisting of content and merge fields. In the mail merge, the merge fields are replaced by information from a single record in a database such as Access or Excel. Mail merge can also be used for displaying Access data rather than using Access reports.

One can do a mail merge in Word by using a wizard or through use of the mail merge toolbar. To use the mail merge wizard, select Tools>Letters and Mailings>Mail Merge. To use the toolbar, select Tools>Letters and Mailings>Show Mail Merge Toolbar.

Mail Merge Using Wizard

There are 6 steps in using the wizard:

  1. Select document type - letters, email, envelopes, labels, directory
  2. Select starting document - use current document, a template, or an existing document
  3. Select recipients - existing list (database), Outlook contacts, type a new list - Most of the time you will want to use an existing list, so with the radio button "Use an existing list" selected, click on the Browse link below this radio button to select the existing file containing the recipients. As noted above, this is typically an Excel spreadsheet or an Access database. If one selects an Excel spreadsheet, one will be prompted to select a given sheet. If one selects an Access database, one will be prompted to select an existing table in the database. By default all that are shown on the sheet or table are selected, but one is then prompted to select particular members. [Note: However, rather than having to select certain members at this stage, if this is an operation that will be repeated at a later time, it seems easier to use a Make Table query in Access to produce the table of recipients one wants. In this way, one can use the saved query in Access to generate the table rather than having to learn a new Word features for this purpose and possibly having to respecify this feature every time one does the mail merge.]
  4. Write letter - This typically involves content that is constant across the recipients and content that is unique to each recipient (entered in the document as merge codes)
  5. Preview the output
  6. Complete the merge

Mail Merge Using the Toolbar

The principal icons you will want to use are the following:

The Address Block and Greeting Line icons are shortcuts for creating the address block and greeting line in a letter; you can achieve more customized results using individual merge fields.

Printing from a Mail Merge

If one uses mail merge to print, each record used in put into a different section of the resulting document. Each section will start printing on a new page. Where this is exactly what one wants for letters, in other uses of mail merge (e.g. using mail merge to display the contents of a database as an alternative to using reports), one doesn't want each record to start on a new page. One can do a search and replace for these section breaks and replace them with something else, e.g. a line break. To do this, select Edit>Replace>click on the Special button at the bottom and select "Section Break" with "Manual Line Break".

Revised: November 30, 2005. Comments to William Pegram, wpegram@nvcc.edu