Using Mail Merge to automatically fill paperwork

Congratulations, you’ve just won a huge account! Unfortunately, a huge sale typically mean huge amounts of paperwork. Does 27 locations mean 27 packets of sales documents? Luckily, we can use the Mail Merge function in Word to make filling out repetitive paperwork suck just a bit less.

For the example below, I am making multiple copies of the tax form 8655, each with the contact information for a different fake client. You can download my sample files from the screenshots below via this link.

Step 1: Create your list

Just like we did in my previous post on Mail Merge, you will need to create an Excel file with the data that you plan to use to populate your forms. The first row should be a description of each column. The subsequent rows will contain the actual data. Each row represents another form that you would like to have populated. In my example, I’m creating 4 unique tax forms.

2015-07-22 23_36_58-Sample Fields To Merge.xlsx - Excel

Step 2: Convert the form into a Word Document

The 8655 form I have is in a PDF format. You can use a tool like SmallPDF.com’s PDF to Word converter tool to instantly create a word document.
2015-07-22 23_31_26-smallpdf.com_pdf-to-word

Alternatively, you can use their PDF to JPG converter to create an image of your form. This can be inserted into Word as a background image, which you can then type over.

Step 3: Create a text box

In your new Word Document, first click the “Insert” tab. Select the “Text Box” drop down menu. Now choose the top left option, labeled “Simple Text Box.”

Add Fields to Word

Step 4: Make your text box “float” over your form

Click on the edge of your new text box to make this the active selection. The icon for your mouse will change to look like this when you are over the edge of the box:

Mouse selecting edge of invisible box

This will make the “Text Box Tools” options appear on the Ribbon in Word, as shown below. Navigate to the “Format” tab that appears. Under the “Wrap Text” menu, select the option that says “In Front of Text.”

Float text on top

Step 5: Make your text box transparent

Right click on the end of the text box, and select the option that says “Format Text Box.”

Format Text box

We’ll want to change the “Fill” and the “Line” color to “No Color,” as shown below.

Format Text box2

Step 6: Link your Word document to your list of data in Excel

Navigate to the “Mailings” tab in word. Click “Select Recipients,” and choose “Use an Existing List.”
Load List into Word

You can now select the excel file that we made earlier. If your excel file is formated the same as the sample file above, simply click “Ok” to continue.

2015-07-22 23_50_23-Select Table

Step 7: Insert your data into the form

Move your floating text box to the location where you would like to insert data on your form. You will likely need to click inside this text box to prepare typing. You may also need to delete the sample text from the box.

Under the “Mailings” tab, you should now be able to click on “Insert Merge Field.” You will see the titles from each of the columns in your excel file.

Select Legal Name

I recommend using a separate text box for each Merge Field that you wish to insert. You can right click on the edge of your invisible text box, select “Copy” (as shown below), and use the Paste command (Ctrl+V) to create an identical text box in your document.

Copy Formated Box

Step 8: Preview and Save your finalized forms

Under the “Mailings” tab, you can select the “Preview Results” icon to see what your final forms will look like. I suggest using the blue arrows to the right of this button to preview each of your forms.

Preview Results

If everything looks correct, select “Finish and Merge” on the right. Under the drop-down menu that appears, click “Print Documents.” Don’t worry about paper and toner, as we will be “printing” to a PDF file in this example.

Finish Merge

In most cases, you will just want to print “All” forms, as shown below.

Merge To Printer

The next window will allow you to specify more advanced print options. This is where I suggest switching to a PDF printer to export your forms as local files. I am using the free CutePDF writer tool in the example below, but any option will work.

Save As PDF

All done!

If you’d like a separate PDF for each client, you can use the free PDFSplit website to make each page its own PDF file. Now you have unique, filled forms that can be emailed to each of your new clients to be signed. Easy as pie!

Do you have tips/suggestions for dealing with large loads of client paperwork? Are you getting stuck at any point in my tutorial above? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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