Mail Merge

A mail merge is the process of taking data from a database or spreadsheet and inserting it into documents such as letters. For example in a form letter, you might include instructions to insert the name of each recipient in a certain place.  The mail merge would combine this letter with a list of recipients to produce one letter for each person in the list.
  • Go to your Gmail account and compose a new message.
  • You will create the message you want to become the mail merge.  Type variables such as $%First Name% , which will be replaced by values under a field with the same variable name in a Google spreadsheet known as your source or data document.  
For example:

Type Dear $%First Name%.  First Name is the name of one of the fields you want to merge. Please note that the field name must be preceded by $% and followed by %

Below is an example of how a spreadsheet would look with the fields Email Address, First Name, and Last Name. Please note that the name of your spreadsheet column (field) name must be exactly the same as your message's variable name.


  • Type your message and insert all variables using the same format. Refer to the diagram below for an example.
  • If you need to send attachments, make sure you attach them before you save the message
  • When you have completed your message, type information in the Subject line and click the Save Now button.  
This action will automatically save your mail merge message to your Drafts folder.  
The template will open in your Google Docs as Copy of Mail Merge Template.
  • Change the name of the template to a more descriptive title (e.g. Career Services Open House). 
  • Make sure that the field names in the spreadsheet's first row correspond exactly with the variables in the body of your e-mail. Casing is ignored but proper spacing is essential. First Name is not the same as FirstName. 
For example in the sample spreadsheet there are three columns:

Column A is Email Address - the message variable is $%Email Address%
Column B is First Name - the message variable is $%First Name%
Column C is Last Name - the message variable is $%Last Name%

Each Column should be exactly as you have it in typed in the message.  If there are no spaces in the message for the merged item, then there should be no spaces in the spreadsheet's column names.  

Example:  $%First Name% is the variable that corresponds to the First Name column.
  • You can either type in your data or copy and paste from another location.  You can add (e.g. Street Address) or remove spreadsheet columns as needed for your mail merge. 
  • Now that your message and Google Spreadsheet are complete you can start your mail merge.
  • From the top options bar choose Mail Merge > Start Mail Merge.  
You will be prompted with an Authorization Required screen

  • Click the OK button.  
  • When prompted click the Grant Access button.
  • Click the Close button to complete access. 
  • Again, from the top options bar choose Mail Merge > Start Mail Merge which will bring up this dialog box:

  • Under Please select your Mail Merge template choose your template, which is the name of your subject. As sender enter your name. 
  • Click the Start Mail Merge button!
If you forgot to name a column Email Address, you will receive an error asking which Column contains the recipient’s email address.

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  • Select which column the email address is in.  For this example it would be A.
The system will automatically send messages out and your spreadsheet will let you know that it has been completed by creating a new Column called Mail Merge Status.



If you go back to your email you will now see a copy of your sent messages in your inbox.



Below is a sample merge based on the first row of data in the source spreadsheet.



You may want to apply a filter to remove these messages from your inbox.