Word: Mail merge loses merged data from page 2 header

October 10, 2011

Here’s a strange one. My client had done a mail merge, but when he printed the letters, the merged fields in the header on page 2 of the 2-page letter were printed as field names, not as the field data. He said that the letters looked fine in the preview in Word 2007, but they didn’t print fine.

I though maybe it was a printer driver issue, so I asked him to print them to PDF to see if that made any difference. Nope. The page 2 headers still ‘printed’ the field names not the data.

Maybe it was a Word issue?

I ran the mail merge on the copies of the letter and the data (in an Excel spreadsheet) I had on my computer. They looked fine in preview mode… and they printed fine with the headers on page 2 correctly printing the field data, not the field names. Hmmm.

I called him and found out he was printing the letters from a network drive. I didn’t think that should be an issue, but to eliminate it I asked him to copy the letters to his local drive and print from there. Guess what? They printed fine! The data in the headers on page 2 printed as it was meant to.

The lesson we learned from this:

  • Mail merged letters may not print correctly from a network drive. Save them to your local machine and print from there. If you need an archive copy, save them to the network drive too but copy them back to your local machine if you ever need to print them again.

I can’t believe that printing them from a network location would cause this issue. Surely mail merge is a function used by larger companies, not your average ‘Jane Bloggs’ user who just wants to print a one-off letter to one person. Larger companies have networks and network drives, and many force you to save your documents to these drives. So not being able to print a mail merge letter correctly from one of these drives would seem odd, especially as the data was stored in the same (network) folder as the letters. Very weird.

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