If you are mail merging an Excel spreadsheet into a Microsoft Word document, and you have multiple lines of text displaying on top of one another it means Microsoft Word is not respecting the newline characters provided by Excel.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Open up the original spreadsheet in Excel
  2. Open up the Find & Replace window (Ctrl + F)
  3. Go to the “Replace” tab
  4. Clear whatever is in the “Find” field and type Alt + 0010
  5. Clear whatever is in the “Replace” field and type Alt + 0013
  6. Replace all

What does this do? It replaces the Newline/linefeed characters (ASCII 0010 or \n) with a carriage return character (ASCII 0013 or \r). This is an issue in the first place because different operating systems (and indeed applications themselves) treat newlines differently. Some only need 0010, other only need 0013. The safe way around this is to provide both.

You can now save your Excel spreadsheet and go back into your Microsoft Word document. When you sample the Mail Merge results, you should now see the new lines represented appropriately and looking great on paper.

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a IT Professional, Broadcast Technician, Software Developer, and Solutions Engineer. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008, and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I provide freelance services through Media Realm - in particular, to the media and not-for-profit industries.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden