How to Create Personalized Invitations Using Word and Excel

If you have ever had to hand write a whole bunch of invitations then I am sure you have had the thought “There has to be an easier way”. Well, if you have Microsoft Office then you are in luck!

Here is how you can create and print your own personalized birthday party invitations in Word from a list of your friends compiled in Excel.

First, create your friends list in Microsoft Excel. It does not need to be anything fancy, just a straight list of names, but make sure you split the first and last names so you can address people by their first name if you want to add a personal note.

OK, the characters in Futurama aren’t really my friends, but you get the idea, heh.

Start creating a new file in Word and select the template you wish to use. Word will download any templates you select that you haven’t used before.

The template I selected allows you to print a folding invitation, so part of it is upside down. This feels a bit weird to edit but you can trust that it will come out ok on the printer!

Now go to the “Mailings” ribbon, press “Start Mail Merge”, and choose “Step by step mail merge wizard”

The mail merge side bar will open on step 1 of 6. Choose the type “Letters”, then click the link “Next” at the bottom

Now hit the radio button “Use the current document” and, again, click “Next”.

We want to “Use an existing list”, the list we created earlier in Excel, so browse for the file where you saved it on your machine and select it.

When you have browsed and found your Excel spreadsheet containing the names of your friends, choose the sheet from excel (sheet1), and click OK to load up the names into the Word “Mail Merge Recipients”.

If you look at the screen grab below, this is how Word sees our friends list. We could remove some of them if we don’t want to invite them to our party, by un-checking the box next to their name. Click OK when you are happy with the guest list.

To add a greeting line right before the invitation text, put your cursor above the text, and click “Greeting line” in the panel on the right of the screen.

You can customize the greeting line with various options and you get a preview before you commit yourself.

Before you complete your invites, you need to do some additional text modifications. There is some place holder text you do not want to publish (I don’t know who this “Stephanie” lady is, and it’s not 2004 anymore!). Click Next when you are done.

At this point you will see what the final product will look like. We can browse through the different invitations for each friend. If everything is all right, click “Next” again.

All that is left now is the final step, which is to print all the invitations!

Obviously we used an example that will be applicable to nearly everybody, but the same principle applies to all mail merges, from sales letters to other kinds of invitation.

Do you use Word mail merge? Please share your experiences in the comments …

PDF2XL is 4 Years Old!

Dear Friends,

This month Cogniview is celebrating the 4th Birthday of PDF2XL – our flagship PDF to Excel conversion product.

It’s not that we always had PDF2XL. You see, Cogniview started as an Enterprise software company that aimed to sell its Enterprise-Level software products to IT departments in large organizations.

We spent a lot of money on flamboyant marketing campaigns, well-dressed sales people and a variety of other time/money wasters.

After 4 years of struggles that resulted in a huge hole in our bank account, we woke up and realized we had to survive. So we turned to our customers who said: Make us a decent PDF to Excel converter – and that was how PDF2XL was born.

Since then, PDF2XL licenses were bought by more than 15,000 companies in a variety of industries all over the globe.

We are thankful to our customers, our employees, our partners and our blog readers who have contributed their time, energy and resources to help Cogniview achieve so many successes.

So, let the party begin!

And what’s a party without party gifts?

First a special Excel Productivity Guide that can help you save even more time when working with Excel.

Click here to Download the Excel Productivity Guide


We would be overjoyed if you would consider leaving PDF2XL a birthday greeting as a comment on this Blog post. The best 10 greetings will entitle their authors with a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

The best part is that the best greeting out of the top 10 will also win a Flip Mino camera!

Amazon Gift Card Camera

So, we invite you to share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment on this post.

And once again – thank you!

Yoav Ezer, CEO
Cogniview Systems 2002

Excel Design and Usability Tips

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Excel Design Tips

In the last part of this Excel Design series I offered some basic tips so you could avoid the most common Excel spreadsheet design horrors.

Spreadsheet design is not just about aesthetics, usability is an important aspect to take into account as well. If you are creating spreadsheets for other people to use then you absolutely need to make your spreadsheets easy to use. For a start, you don’t want filling out your sheets to be more of a chore than they need to be, but also to prevent data entry errors.

For this article I turned to an Excel expert, Debra Dalgleish, who is an independent computer consultant who specializes in Microsoft Office programming and development. As well as being awarded the Microsoft Office Excel MVP award each year since 2001, Debra is the author of three brilliant Excel books.

  1. ValidationMany data entry errors can be avoided by reducing the amount of actual typing, or decision making on the part of the of the person doing the inputting. Debra recommends “Create data validation drop down lists so users can select a valid item instead of typing.”
  2. “Use colour only as a guide for users. For example, type data in light blue cells and select from a list in light green cells.”
  3. Consider also the readability of your spreadsheet when printed. “In the Page Setup dialog box, on the Sheet tab, add a check mark to ‘Black and white’. If a user prints the sheet, it will be easier to read, and will use less toner”.
  4. Another printing tip that I snatched from Debra’s site is to selectively turn off cells when printing.
  5. I asked Debra about her use of images in spreadsheets. Many people seem divided on if they add or detract from a layout. “I will sometimes add a client’s logo on a report that will be printed, or on their data entry page but I will rarely use any other pictures.”
  6. You can shade alternating rows to make dense tables figures more readable using conditional formatting.
    1. Click the Select All button, above the Row 1 button, to select all the cells on the worksheet.
    2. Choose Format|Conditional Formatting
    3. From the first dropdown, choose Formula Is
    4. For the formula, enter    =MOD(ROW(),2)
    5. Click the Format button.
    6. On the Patterns tab, select a colour for shading
    7. Click OK, click OK
  7. Debra recommends you use lines and borders sparingly, and to choose appropriate line colours. “In a data entry form I’d use lines as borders around data entry cells, in addition to colour in the cells. If the data entry form is long, lines would separate the sections. In a report I’d use lines to separate the totals from the report body. For separating data in a long list, white space is preferable, but if lines are necessary I’d use grey, instead of black.”
  8. Excel Comment ImagesHere’s a nice trick Debra uses for adding a picture to a comment which keeps the sheet from looking cluttered
    1. Right-click the cell which contains the comment.
    2. Choose Show/Hide Comments, and clear any text from the comment.
    3. Click on the border of the comment, to select it.
    4. Choose Format|Comment
    5. On the Colors and Lines tab, click the drop-down arrow for Color.
    6. Click Fill Effects
    7. On the picture tab, click Select Picture
    8. Locate and select the picture
    9. To keep the picture in proportion, add a check mark to Lock Picture Aspect Ratio
    10. Click Insert, click OK, click OK

I certainly learned a lot from Debra and I hope you did too! Be sure to check out Debra’s blog for more Office tips.

If you have any tips of your own, please share in the comments …