Collapse That Field!
June 21, 2010 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Outlook->Access->Word Merge: A client asked me to help merge from Outlook to Word in order to be able to print out the contacts with Notes field.

All contacts have Notes fields of various length. In order to even retrieve the notes field it was necessary to export to Access and, without ever opening it in Access, (the client doesn't have but it still exists as an option), used it as the merge source for a merge document in Word.

Since the Notes field have varying amounts of text for each note I'm looking for a way to allow these to collapse and use the entire page when printing. I set up six to a page but if the Notes field for one is very long it pushes the remaining off resulting in uneven results - some pages have three while other pages have just one.

Additionally, to be able to collapse fields without data might go a long way towards this goal.

The client uses Office 2007 although I am now on Office 2010.
posted by geekyguy to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I dunno, maybe you can output the contacts into a csv, then print from excel?
posted by parallax7d at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2010

Response by poster: Not if you want the Notes field, that is why it was necessary to two-step it to Access.
posted by geekyguy at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2010

From Access you should be able to export to Excel, if you have the program. I know you said he doesn't but I didn't know if you did.
posted by msbutah at 2:04 PM on June 21, 2010

Response by poster: I'm not having any problem getting the information into Word.

The place that we'd like to improve the process is to somehow collapse empty fields so as to clean up wasted white space and get as many records as possible on each page.
posted by geekyguy at 2:28 PM on June 21, 2010

The problem I think you're running into in Word is that you're building a table to hold the data inside the document. Tables in Word are like HTML tables - the largest element will define the height of that entire row when it's in the same table. The only possible thing I think you could do in Word is to create your merged data into it's own single table (see this example file) that would then flow the data as compact as possible.
posted by msbutah at 3:07 PM on June 21, 2010

You can use IF statements that draw on the contents of a field to control whether certain text or fields appear (look for "insert Word field" command; I have an older version so don't know where you might find it), but I'm having trouble imagining this well enough to know whether that would help your case.
posted by yarrow at 3:17 PM on June 21, 2010

Response by poster: msbutah, I like the simple solution that converting the tables to text provided but, where I previously had six tables on a page, it now collapses so they immediately follow each other better but after the sixth table it page breaks. Sometimes this leaves just one or two on a page before the next set of six begins.

yarrow, I'll check out the IF statements, it seems like a solution could be in that, but might that require tables in order to function?
posted by geekyguy at 4:28 PM on June 21, 2010

Best answer: So the setting you need to change to stop it from putting in page breaks after the first element is this: On the Mailings Tab go to Start Mail Merge and from that drop down change the type to Directory. That will flow your records one after another instead of putting page breaks after them. Make sure to go all the way through the Finish and Merge function to see the results - it won't show up in the Preview mode. So if you take that sample document I made and have it be only the very first table (remove all the others) it will wrap them through the document correctly.
posted by msbutah at 10:21 AM on June 22, 2010

Best answer: Oh, yes, definitely do it as a directory and not as letters or something. Didn't realize you weren't doing that. You should only need the fields specified once.
posted by yarrow at 12:41 PM on June 22, 2010

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