How to Use Mail Merge in LibreOffice Writer

The mail-merge feature of LibreOffice Writer helps you create a batch of personalized documents at once with a few quick and simple steps. You can easily create and print out a bunch of customized letters, address labels, or envelops for each recipient, customer, or subscriber.

Tips: For those unfamiliar with the concept of mail-merge, a brief overview and common use cases are provided below. (If you are already familiar with the term, and its concept, please don’t hesitate to skip this introduction to the actual steps.)

What Does “Mail-Merge” Mean?

Mail merge is a feature that allows you to send the same letter or document to multiple recipients, each personalized with their name or other details.

For example, suppose you have a list of hundred people who have filled out an online form with their name and other contact details in order to attend a social event.

Now, if you were to write a letter to each of these hundred people informing them of their member ID and other stuff, it could have taken you hours of manual work. Thus, the main purpose of the mail-merge feature is to eliminate the manual process and automate the document creation task as simple as possible.

Mail-Merge Requires External Data Source To Work

Every program that supports the mail-merge feature requires a database (or data source) where all the information about the recipients is stored.

That external database or data source (whatever you may call it) could contain any number of information, and be of any type. Such as an excel spreadsheet, a CVS, or database file. As long as the stored data is laid out in a nicely formatted structure and tables, it will do the work.

As you can see from the above screenshot, we have used LibreOffice Calc to make a spreadsheet containing the details of each fictional employee. And when we work on the mail merge in LibreOffice Writer, this spreadsheet acts as an external database to produce personalized letters for each of these employees.

Quick Notes:

(1) LibreOffice only accepts a few types of data source, but the most preferred way of storing data for mail merge-specific work is a simple spreadsheet.

(2) If your data is stored in an Excel sheet made in Microsoft Excel, you should always check if the file is readable through LibreOffice Calc.

(3) Any Microsoft Office Excel file that contains formulas or macros of any kind should never be used as an external data source in LibreOffice Writer.

The Mail-Merge Feature In LibreOffice Writer

Step 1. Open a new or existing text document

To use the mail merge in LibreOffice Writer, either open a new or an existing document that you might have written as a template to produce the personalized document. (Since I don’t have an existing document, I am going with a new one.)

Step 2. Activate the mail-merge toolbar

Go to View > Toolbars > Mail Merge ( If you are using a different user interface like Tabbed or Groupedbar Compact; select the upper-right hamburger menu > Toolbars > Mail Merge.)

Select the mail merge option.
The mail merge toolbar options.

Step 3. Connect an external data source with the document

For that, go to Edit > Exchange Database

Once you click on the Exchange Database, a new dialog window will pop up. Here you need to browse and select the spreadsheet database containing the recipient’s information. I have already prepared a sample spreadsheet file for this tutorial, and that’s what I’m going to select.

Once you import the spreadsheet file, select the sheet that contains the required information about the recipients, and hit Define.

Watch the video below to learn how to choose a spreadsheet file as the data source.

Step 4. View the imported data source

You have now successfully connected the external data source (or the spreadsheet) to the current working document. Click the button labeled “Data Sources” from the mail-merge toolbar options.

Once you open the data source, you will see the spreadsheet data tables right above the document page. Now, all you have to do is just drag and drop the required column headings to the appropriate location on the document page.

At this point, it’s up to you to decide whether to make printouts of the generated documents or send the file to its respective email addresses.

Wrapping Up

I hope this step by step tutorials have helped you understand the concept behind the mail-merge feature of LibreOffice Writer. If you still find any difficulty in understanding the steps, please leave a comment below, I’ll try to help you out.

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Shiba Prasad
Shiba Prasad

I’m the creator behind, and Professionally, I’m a freelance technical writer who shares a passion for open source technologies. Learn more, or follow me here → Instagram, Linkedin, Medium

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