I recently went through the process of creating address labels for mailing about 300 letters requesting donations to a school fund raiser. This could also come in handy for that Christmas card list which is coming soon. The assumption in the following steps is that you have a list of addresses in a spreadsheet, but they could be from almost any data source.
Starting with your spreadsheet, Excel or OpenOffice, containing address columns such as: Name, Street, State, Zip, … The general steps are:
- Create Database from spreadsheet or other source – this will be the source of address data for the mail merge
- Create Labels – empty document template based on the brand and size labels that has placeholders for the address data linked to the database in step 1
- Mail Merge – puts the address data from step 1 into in the template from step 2 and outputs the document for printing/saving
Create the Database
Creating a database in OpenOffice.org can be done from the File menu in any product Writer, Calc, Base, etc.. From the File menu select New, Database. The Database Wizard will open. The first step in the wizard is to select your database (i.e. spreadsheet or other). Choose the last option “Connect to an existing database” and select “Spreadsheet” from the dropdown list.
Click Next and browse to your spreadsheet file which can be an OpenOffice.org spreadsheet or Microsoft Excel.
Click Next and and Finish. The option presented on this last screen may not be obvious at first. Make sure ‘to select ‘Yes, register the database for me’. All this does is make the database available in OpenOffice.org on your computer. You will need this in the next step.
Name your database file. Use something more descriptive than NewDatabase.odb. The filename will be the name of the registered database you will be selecting in the next steps. You now have an OpenOffice.org database.
The following steps create a new document template based on the physical size and layout of the labels that you plan to use. Make sure you have your labels in hand and know what Avery template you will be using. From any OpenOffice.org screen select File, New, Labels. The Labels dialog will open. There are three tabs in this dialog.
On the first tab “Labels” select the Database you created in the first step. The Table is the name of the worksheet from the spreadsheet. The database fields are the column names. The idea is to select each field you want in the label and click the arrow in the middle to move them into the box on the left. After inserting each field press Enter to insert a carriage return is a field is on a new line in the label. If you are entering multiple fields on one line with a comma e.g. <City> <State>,<Zip> then insert the fields then type a comma then the next field.
Then at the bottom of the first tab select the Format, Brand and Type of your labels.
The second tab “Format” contains the details from the Brand and type you selected. You should not have to adjust unless you have some custom labels or a template did not exist for you labels.
On the last tab “Options” select “Entire Page” as you will be creating full page of labels and not a single label per page. The “Synchronize contents” checkbox, if checked, will create a button that will be available in your document. From the help,
The Synchronize labels button only appears in your document if you selected the Synchronize contents on the Options tab when you created the labels or business cards.
Copies the contents of the top left label or business card to the remaining labels or business cards on the page.
So if you plan to make changes later to the layout of all labels document you can select this box, otherwise you can uncheck it. It’s not really needed if you get the label item layout right in the first step.
Select “New Document” and a new OpenOffice.org document will be opened in Writer. You now have your template ready to accept the data in the last step Mail Merge.
You are almost done. With the Label template opened in Writer, select Tools, Mail Merge Wizard.
Just click Next to step through the wizard. The default options should be OK. When you click Next at step 6 ‘Edit document’, the labels will be generated.
At the last step, choose ‘Save merged document’ and then option save as ‘Save as a single document’
You now have a document containing all of your address data which you can print as needed.