Update May 2013: For up-to-date instructions on printing membership cards
using mail merge, please visit our Wild Apricot help document.
Spend just a half-hour in a nonprofit office, and you're likely to be all too familiar with MS Word's mail merge feature -- or at least, with the sheets of peel-and-stick mailing labels that can quickly be generated with it! And where would a nonprofit be, without mail merge to help quickly create those direct mail pieces and personalized
newsletters? But those routine tasks are
just the start of many ways that mail-merge
can save time and effort in the office.
Take membership cards, for example.
With just the Excel file that holds
your membership data, the mail-merge feature of MS Word,
and a few sheets of business card stock,
creating a custom membership card becomes easy and efficient.
business card sheets offer a convenient and economical option for creating
your membership cards, and that's the method we'll use in the following tutorial.
Set up a membership card in MS Word, using a Labels format.
Select the data source file (your Excel file).
Place the required mail-merge fields in the card template.
Merge, preview, check, and print.
We'll show the steps for creating membership cards with mail merge using MS Word 2007 as the example in this tutorial. Previous versions of
Word and other full-featured word processing programs have similar
functions that can do the same operations. The interface may look a bit
different from that of Word 2007, but the basic steps for mail merging a list and a document are very much the same:
1. Set Up a Membership Card Document
Start up MS Word and open a new blank document.
Start 'Mail Merge' and select 'Labels...'
There are many built-in choices for label printing, and you can also make up your own custom layouts.
Avery 8871, selected here, is an 8½ x 11 inch page of business cards
that snap apart after printing, with a clean smooth edge. Clean edge
sheets of business cards, plain or with a preprinted background, are
widely available at office supply stores.
Select the label product, and click on 'OK.'
The blank document now holds a table, set up to match the printing
requirements for the Clean Edge Business Cards that we've specified.
It is helpful at this point to turn on the gridlines or guidelines for
the table, so you can see where to place the text within the card, but
do not set a border. If your default table properties put a border
line around each card, look for the 'None' option under Borders and
Shading to remove those unnecessary borders.
this example, the only variables will be the first name and last name
of the members -- but of course you can expand this idea to customize
your membership cards for different levels of membership, locations,
expiry dates, or any other variables that are included as fields in
your membership database.
In laying out the card, I find it useful to type in a real name as placemarker text,
just to get a better sense of the finished layout. When the layout is
done, just delete any placemarker text and replace it with the
proper merge fields.
This would be a good time to save the document as a Word template, in
the same folder as your other Word templates. The next time you need to
print membership cards, you'll be able to open a new document based on
this template and pick up from this point on. If you wait until the
database has been selected and connected to the file, changing to
another list in furutre can be needlessly complicated. Save a template,
and use that every time you want to print cards with a updated database
2. Attach the DataBase Source File
'Select Recipients' menu, choose the 'Existing List' option.
your computer to find and select the Excel file that holds your membership database.
At this point, you may choose to edit your database list, sort it by
any field, remove duplicates, and decide which entries to use or
Insert the merge fields into your membership card document. 'Update Labels' to create your membership cards.
In this case, we're choosing 'First Name' and 'Last Name' fields from
the available options, remembering to add a space between the two
fields as we'll want a space between the two parts of each name, or
they'll run together into one word when the cards are generated.
This will replicate the one card you've made, filling out
the page of cards -- and as many other pages as you'll need to print
cards for all the members.
Take a moment at this point to look at the cards you've designed, and decide if you need to make any last-minute changes to the layout. If so, hit the 'Undo' button to go back to the previous step, make your changes to that single original card, and then continue once more.
Preview the results of the mail merge, and suddenly all those merge fields are filled out with your members' names.
3. Complete the Mail Merge
Now all you have to do is check the completed cards for errors, make
any changes that may be required, and click to finish the mail merge
operation. Save the membership card pages to your hard drive as a Word
document -- and that's it. You're ready to print!