Word: Mail Merge with PDF Attachments

Have you ever wished that you could do an email Mail Merge with PDF attachments as the merged results? There are a variety of reasons you may want to do this. Maybe you would like to send individual PDF letters to students via email attachment, or perhaps you want to have a partially completed PDF form that is personalized for each person you are emailing. The possibilities are endless! By the way, big thanks to Julie and Meghan for having an awesome question in last week’s Word session that has inspired this Byte!


  • Today I am going to be referencing an Add In that comes with the installation of Acrobat DC on a computer. To request Acrobat DC, or other Adobe Creative Cloud programs, contact the Help Desk at 4357.
  • Also, for these exercises, I am assuming you have some experience with Mail Merge in Word. If you have never merged before, or are not comfortable with the process, please come attend my Microsoft Word Essentials training! You will be comfortable with it in no time.

Exercise Files

Here are a couple files for experimentation, if you would like to follow along:

  • Sample Letter Word Document: this is your file that you would like to turn into a merged PDF for recipients. This is a fictional letter for potential students.
  • Mail Merge Database Excel File: this is a fictional database for linking to the merge document.
  • Important: you should save these both to your desktop before starting, since you will have to browse to find the Excel file when merging.

Creating the Merge

You will start this merge like any other email merge:

1. Open the Sample Letter Word file.

2. Go to Mailings tab and select Start Mail Merge

3. Select Letters

Start Mail Merge dropdown, Letters selected

4. Select Recipients and browse for the Excel file

Select recipients dropdown, Use an existing list selected

5. Insert Merge Fields as desired. I am going to insert:

  • Address block
  • Greeting line, and
  • Interest field
Insert Merge Field dropdown

Work Offline

In real life, this is an optional step when doing an email merge, but I will ask you to do it this time, since we are working with fake email accounts, and you probably don’t want to receive a bunch of bounce back emails. When you work Offline in Outlook, it allows you the opportunity to review your email merge before going back online and sending them.

  • In Outlook, go to the send/receive tab and select Work Offline.
Outlook Send/Receive tab, Work Offline selected

Finish and Merge

1. Instead of going to Finish and Merge, like we usually do, we are going to select Merge to Adobe PDF.

Mailings tab, Merge to Adobe PDF circled

2. In the popup screen:

  • Specify a name for your PDF
Specify PDF File name completed with "Welcome" title
  • Check the box next to Automatically send Adobe PDF files by Email. Email data will populate by default, but that is something that could be changed if the wrong column is selected.
Automatically send Adobe PDF files by Email box checked. Email selected from dropdown.
  • Type in a special email Message, if desired.
Message inserted in Message box: We can't wait to see you this fall!
  • Press Ok

3. Select a location to save the merged PDF files. This creates separate PDFs for each of the merge results, for your records.

If there you don’t see a location that will work, notice you can also create a new folder in the lower left.

Browse for location screen

Double Check Results

  1. Open your Outlook.
  2. Since you are working Offline, these files are going to be sitting in your Outbox. You should see a number on the left side of your screen next to Outbox. Click on the Outbox to access the folder.
Outbox displayed on list

3. You will see a list of emails. Double click on any of them and take a look at the email that is set to send. You will see your message, subject line, and a PDF attachment.

Email from results, with PDF attachment

4. Double click on the attachment. Here is the letter you wanted to send, as a PDF attachment.

PDF of merged Word file

5. The individual PDFs are also living wherever you chose to store them on the previous section, step 3.

Work Online

Don’t forget that you need to go back online again with your Outlook! When you go back online, all of the emails in your outbox are going to send automatically, and in this case (with our fake emails) is not a good idea.

Red X next to each email to delete from Outbox.
  1. Click on the red X to the right of of each of the emails to delete them.
  2. When you are finished, revisit the Send/Receive tab and toggle off the Work Offline button to go back online again.


Will you use this in your area? I would love to hear how you plan to use this tool!

Congratulations, Power Users!

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2 thoughts on “Word: Mail Merge with PDF Attachments”

  1. What if I want the emails to be personalized (mail merged), but to attach a pdf (or 2) to each individualized email. The pdfs would all be the same.

    1. Hey Tonya, I don’t see a way to customize the email through the Acrobat plug in (though that would be cool, though). With the standard Outlook and Adobe features, it is a choice of either custom emails or custom PDFs… currently there is not a way to attach PDFs with regular email merge (without the Adobe plug in). There is a toolkit that can be purchased called Mail Merge Toolkit that allows you to attach PDFs to merged emails. If you are interested in a quote, send me an email, and I can get one put together for you… it’s not terribly pricey, so if it is a feature you really could use, might be worth looking into.

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