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How To Format Mail Merge Zip Codes

When using Microsoft Word to mail merge name and address data into a series of form letters or even labels, the zip code field will merge great if it contains 5 digits. However, there are areas of the country that have five digits that begin with a zero. Mail Merge drops the leading zero and this can be a serious problem for the USPS. Your letter going to 02920, a Rhode Island zip code, will print as 2920. The letter could end up floating around for a while until someone realizes it is meant for Rhode Island.

There is a way to tell mail merge to not drop the leading zero.

Keep The Leading Zero

I am assuming you are aware of how to use the mail merge function of Microsoft Word. If not, see this Easy Mail Merge Using Microsoft Office article I wrote that details how to use mail merge. 

The document being merged with your address list will read something like this:

merge-fields

Press ALT+F9, and you’ll see the code behind the fields:

code-revealed

The zip code merge field looks like this { MERGEFIELD “ZIP_Code” }.

To stop the suppression of the leading zero, use this: 

{ MERGEFIELD “ZIP_Code” \# 0#### }

This instructs Word to stop zero suppression at the first of the five numbers, meaning do not suppress the leading zero. 

Here is what the code means:

  • The backslash starts the formatting switch
  • The # tells it to format numbers
  • Include five numbers with zero suppression to stop at the first number

Now all your mail will get to the correct post office.

Dick


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2 thoughts on “How To Format Mail Merge Zip Codes”

  1. If the first number is set to 0 then will it not override any non zero number in that place during the merge? Generally that happens in a string set up like this. Just curious without having to set up a mail merge. Fortunately all my lists do not include any leading “0”s.

    1. Yes, that first 0 tells it to zero suppress only up to that point, but not that place… 001234 would show as 01234

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