Create a tidy data source, and print perfect mailing labels in Word—everytime


By Kara Hiltz

Application: Microsoft Word2016

Operating System: Microsoft Windows


Writing address after address on envelopes wastes precious time, but many Microsoft Word users don’t feel confident enough to print their own mailing labels. We’ll demystify the Mail Merge process, show you how easy it is to create an address list to work from, and ensure that you print a typo-free sheet of labels in no time.

To create perfectly formatted mailing labels in Word, we’ll:

  • Create a data source for our Mail Merge.
  • Choose the appropriate label size.
  • Select recipients and design the label’s layout.
  • Print a test sheet without wasting any labels.

Writing addresses on your business correspondence risks more than just a hand cramp—your chicken scratch handwriting and potential copying errors could prevent the timely delivery of your mail. Word’s Mail Merge feature intimidates many people, but once you know the process, it’s quite clear-cut. As a bonus, our method includes a failsafe so you don’t need to worry about wasting a sheet of labels. We’ll give you all the tools you need to transform a table of names and addresses into a sheet of labels, as shown in Figure A.



Printed mailing labels surpass handwritten envelopes in both speed and appearance.

Create a data source

Mail Merge labels require a data source (also known as an address list). The data source contains all the names and addresses you wish to print on your mailing labels. You can use many types of data sources, including Excel worksheets, Access databases, and more. Or you can simply create a table in Word, as we did for this example. Open a new Word document and create a table like the one shown in Figure B, or you can use your own address list to create your data source. You can also download our data source, Customers.docx, from the URL given at the beginning of this article.

One table, many uses

Though this data source takes a few minutes to create, you can reuse it every time you print labels. And, as we’ll explain later, you want to err on the side of comprehensiveness—that is, include any and all names and addresses to your data source that you might want to print on labels. Later, when you’re setting up the Mail Merge, you’ll be able to choose which customers you’ll include in that particular printing.

 Best bet: Consider making this data source a master list of all your customers.



An organized data source like this table makes creating address labels a snap.

Start the Mail Merge Wizard

Now that we’ve created a data source, let’s begin the Mail Merge. We’ll select the right labels, set up the address block, and prepare the information on our label sheet for printing.

To select your labels:

  1. Open a new Word document and show the document’s formatting by clicking on the Home tab and selecting Show/Hide in the Paragraph area. Now you can see—and easily navigate—the boundaries of each label on the document.
  2. Click on the Mailings tab. In the Start Mail Merge area, click on Start Mail Merge and then choose Step-By-Step Mail Merge Wizard from the resulting dropdown list.
  3. In the resulting Mail Merge task pane, choose Labels in the Select Document Type section, then click Next: Starting Document.
  4. In the Select Starting Document area, leave the Change Document Layout radio button selected. Click on Label Options to choose your labels.
  5. In the Label Options dialog box, choose the label brand from the Label Vendors dropdown box, then select the correct option from the Product Number list box. We chose Avery A4/A5, product number 3422. Click OK.
  6. In the Mail Merge task pane, click on Next: Select Recipients.

Now we’ll exclude, from the complete list in our data source, those customers that don’t need to receive this particular mailing.

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