Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Solving Word mail merge ZIP code problems

A reader wrote to me yesterday explaining a frustrating issue she is experiencing with Word mail merge. When she runs labels with data she imported from an Excel worksheet, everything works fine as long as the label data includes a five-digit ZIP code. But when the ZIP includes the "plus four" designation (for example, 12345-6789), the ZIP shows up as 0 on her labels.

I tried replicating the issue, and as long as I used Word's merge fields (for example, the Address Block) everything worked fine. I could also manually insert a ZIP merge field and use Match Fields to point the right data to the field on the label. I noticed that in some cases, however, the labels with the four-digit extension would drop from the merge. Odd!

So I went on a web hunt to see what other people were experiencing. It seems this strange "plus four" problem has been around through several versions of Word. I found this site with a number of workarounds for various label problems--one of which is the ZIP plus four solution. You do have to add some info to the merge field command, but the author tells you how to do it in a step-by-step fashion: http://www.gmayor.com/formatting_word_fields.htm

I hope that's helpful. Happy merging! :)

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