Mail Merge Edit Recipient List

I use the mail merge feature a lot. When going in to edit the recipient list, is there a quick way to delete all of the previous information, or do you have to delete each recipient individually?

–Submitted by Karen from State College, PA


If you created the list using Word 2007 and you do not have Access installed, you have to delete the records one at a time.

Deleting records by editing the source file in Access

If you have Access 2007 installed, you can edit the source file table and delete all of the records at one time. But do not change the structure of the table within Access 2007 or it will break the connection with your mail merge file.

To delete records, open Access 2007, then follow these steps:

  1. To open the data file, press Ctrl + O, then browse to the date file record and double click it. (The default location is C:My DocumentsMy Data Sourcesfile-name.mdb.)
  2. If you get a security warning, click Options, select Enable Content, and then click OK.
  3. In the Navigation Pane, double-click the Office_Address_List table icon to open the table for editing.
    Selecting the Office Address List table in Microsoft Access
  4. Highlight all of the records you want to delete. (Left-click and drag the mouse.)
    Note: You can only highlight adjacent records. If you want to skip records, you will have to highlight and delete in sections.
    Highlighting records in the Office Address List
  5. Right-click, then select Delete Record. Click Yes to verify the deletion.
  6. Close Access.

Go back to Word 2007 to add new recipients to the list and complete your mail merge.

Editing the recipient list

If you do not want to permanently delete the recipient list records, there is a quick way to deselect all of the recipients within the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box. All you need to do is uncheck the box at the top of the list.

All recipients selected
All recipients deselected

After deselecting all records, you have to manually select recipients for the mail merge.

If you have a huge list and need to send mailings to specific contacts, it is easier to use the filter than to deselect all then have to select recipients one-by-one.

Instead of deselecting, at the bottom of the Edit Recipient List window, click Filter.

Selecting Filter

You can create very advanced filters in this screen using the And/Or operators, and selecting specific merge fields.

Filter and Sort dialog box

You can get more information about mail merge and other advanced word processing techniques from the book, Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Word 2007, or Microsoft Word 2010 In Depth. (affiliate links)


(These comments were from a previous commenting system. If you want to add to the discussion, use the comment box at the bottom of the page. Thanks!)

by: Joy S Laughter

Hello, I have used Mail Merge a lot in previous versions of Word. I come to Word 7 with a form letter ready, and a list of recipients ready, and I cannot make out how to use Mail Merge. There are no menu options that recognize I might already have a data file and a letter file ready to go. I am completely at the beginning again. And I cannot find any Mail Merge tutorials on this site, Word’s Help feature does nothing, so where do I go for instruction in Word 7’s Mail Merge??

Thank you.

How to Start a Mail Merge
by: Sue

Hi Joy:

To start a mail merge, click the Mailings Tab. In the Start Mail Merge group, click the Start Mail Merge button.If this is the first time you have used it, select Step by Step Mail Merge from the menu (it should be the last menu item). The wizard will walk you through selecting the type of merge, selecting your recipient list (the data file), editing recipients, etc.Once you get the hang of it, you can ditch the wizard and use the buttons on the ribbon to complete your mail merges.

by: Anonymous

I can not get this feature to work on my computer. Is there a setting I need to select? I click on that box, but nothing happens. All my records are still selected.

Deselect All Not Working

by: Sue

Hi Anon:

I don’t know why a deselect wouldn’t work so I need more info from you so I can try to reproduce the problem.

  1. What version of Word are you using?
  2. What operating system?
  3. What type of merge document? (letter, envelope, labels)
  4. What type of date source? (Excel, Outlook, Access…)


Oh, and one last thing. Are you working on files located on a network server? Or local files?

recipient list
by: Anonymous

I am working with Word 2007 on a Microsoft LAN operating system is XP office. My word file is a document with the data on an Excel worksheet with 753 records.

Deselect All Not Working
by: Sue

I have tried unsuccessfully to reproduce the problem, which means it might be caused by working on files located on a server.

Try copying the files to your local machine then try to deselect all of the recipient names using the instructions in this tutorial.

I hope this works for you. Can you do me a favor and report back here with your results? Thanks!

by: Anonymous

Copying the files to my hard drive did not make any difference. It has to be something with the installation of MS office on my machine. I can login to our network on a different workstation and I have no problems.

Repair Microsoft Word
by: Sue

Try doing a repair on your installation:

  1. Click the Office Button, then Word Options.
  2. Select the Resources tab, then click Diagnose.

It takes awhile for the tool to run. Allow it to run all tests and fix any problems it finds.If that doesn’t work, you may need to reinstall Microsoft Office. Or contact your IT dept and tell them exactly what is happening and that it seems to be isolated to your workstation.

Adding Names to Mail Merge Recipient List
by: Elizabeth

I have entered names into a saved mail merge table but I now need to add more names and addresses. I have tried to edit the list and find no where that I can do this. I was able to edit and add names in previous versions of word. What do I need to do.

Editing a Mail Merge Source Document
by: Sue

I think what you are trying to do is add names to the data source that was created by clicking Type New List. (These lists are saved as Microsoft Access tables.)To edit that list, open your merge document, then click Mailings tab > Edit Recipient List.In the lower-left of the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box, in the Data Source section, click to highlight the name of the data source you want to change, then click Edit.Now you can add or delete as many names as you want. Click New Entry to add a new names to the list. To delete an entry, highlight it, then click Delete Entry.

When you are finished editing the list, click OK to go back to the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box where you can edit the recipient list.