Skip to main content

IncludePicture: How To Mail Merge Graphics and Photos in Microsoft Word Step By Step

Do you need to put different people's pictures and signatures on different letters, create photo directories or face books, print invitations or place cards with logos on them, print photo ID cards? Maybe you regularly produce a report with different photos in it?

If so, Microsoft Word has a feature that may be for you: mail merging images with the IncludePicture field.


Some Examples

I know an engineering company that produces many site inspection reports every day. The reports are all mail merged from the same report template and use IncludePicture to automatically drop in digital photos of the inspection site.

Other folks use IncludePicture in sales letter mailings to insert the appropriate salesperson's photo and signature.

I spoke to a lady who's in charge of producing the annual student photo directory for a small college. By using IncludePicture, she was able to do what used to be a five-week job in less than one week!


How To Use IncludePicture

This step-by-step explanation has been excerpted from an online article on using IncludePicture and is included here by kind permission of its author.

Try to follow the instructions very, very precisely. IncludePicture finicky and won't work if you so much as breathe on it the wrong way.

  1. The key to variable images is to have a collection of photo or image files in a folder on your computer or network, and to name the images files the same as the contents of a field in the database. For example, if you have a database which includes a "FirstName" field, you might name personnel photos "John.jpg," "Mary.jpg," and so forth.
  2. If you're using Word 2007 or later, Save As the document in the Word 97 - 2003 (.doc) format -- NOT the Word 2007 (.docx) format. IncludePicture does not work in .docx documents due to a bug in Word. Don't bother reporting the bug to Microsoft: they've known about it for a long time.
  3. If it's not already selected, select the data source (database) into the master document you'll be working with. Only if you're using Word 2003 or before, also make sure that the Mail Merge toolbar is visible in Word's menu bar; if not: Tools + Customize, check off the Mail Merge box.
  4. Locate where you want to position your image, and insert an image from the image collection (any of them will do for now) onto the page in the usual manner using Insert + Picture + From File. However, do not press the Insert button as usual after selecting the file. Instead, press the little triangle on the right edge of that button to get a three-line menu, and click "Link to File." Do not format or resize the picture.
  5. You're now ready to make the image into a variable image. Press the Alt + F9 key combination. The picture you just inserted will become something like this on a gray background: { INCLUDEPICTURE "c:\\staff\\pictures\\John.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d } Note that copying and pasting the above text from this article into Word will not work; you must carry out this procedure as written. Notice that the backslash ("\") characters in the filename are doubled-up. This doesn't refer to the \* and \d at the end -- just the \\'s in the filename. Word requires all backslashes in file names to be doubled. If you ever need to edit the folder names, you must double up any backslashes that you add.
  6. Select and delete the filename portion ("John: in this example), but leave the folder name(s) with doubled-up backslashes, and leave the file's "extension" (.jpg in this case, might be .gif, .bmp, .tif or other). Be sure that you do not delete the blanks after the { and before the }. In this example we'll only remove "John" and the line will now look something like: { INCLUDEPICTURE "c:\\staff\\pictures\\.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }
  7. Leaving the cursor where "John" used to be, select the [for Word 2007+: Mailings, Insert Merge Field] or [for Word 2003 and before: Insert Merge Fields button from the Mail Merge toolbar (typically the fifth button from the left)], and select the database field you need. In this example, you'd get: { INCLUDEPICTURE "c:\\staff\\pictures\\{ MERGEFIELD "FirstName" }.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }
  8. Press Alt + F9 again to go back to Picture View so that you can view your handiwork.
  9. Run the [for Word 2007+: Mailings, Finish & Merge, Edit Individual Documents] or [for Word 2003 and before: Merge to New Document] (not to a printer, fax or e-mail).
  10. Don't miss this step, it's very important: Select the new document; Press Ctrl + A; Press F9.
  11. Go through the merged document and "manually" do any necessary fix-ups to image size or rotation.

Are Those Barcodes You're Mail Merging?

If you're merging barcodes, check out my Hub about Word's DISPLAYBARCODE.

Is IncludePicture for You?

First, a reality check: as you can see from the huge pile of questions and comments below, using IncludePicture is a "project." In other words, plan to put some time into learning this and getting it dialed in. If you just need to get something done quickly and move on, or if you're the impatient type, IncludePicture may not be for you; see under the Alternatives... heading below.

For all of its usefulness, IncludePicture does have some gotchas that may limit its usefulness to you. Here, I'll discuss those traps and suggest some ways of working around some of them.

  • As you can see from the directions above, you must first Merge To New Document, select the new merged document, press Ctrl + A, and press F9 before saving or printing your new document. That means large merges will take longer because you cannot merge directly to the printer. Also, the additional steps may require you to specially train anybody who may need to run the mail merge operation, including temporary and replacement staff.
  • You cannot mail merge to e-mail or fax since you must Merge To New Document. The last point can be critical because merging directly to e-mail or fax is the only way to make Microsoft Word use e-mail addresses and phone numbers from the database to send your message.
  • You'll need to do some manual coding of mail merge fields. Not a problem for some people — but a major issue for others — depending on skill level. ‘Nuf said.
  • All of the images that will show up in a given position on the page must be the same size, and you must not adjust (shrink or stretch) those images' size in Word. That is because Word will reset all the merged images' size back to their default (i.e. the size they show up in when you initially Insert an image into the document) when they are merged. If you're not working with too many images, you can either resize all of the images before merging them using Photoshop or other photo editor, or you can resize each image in the new document after the merge.
  • Portrait-orientation photos will often be merged into the document in landscape orientation, or vice-versa. That's the usual deal for any images inserted into a Word document since Word ignores the tags in JPEG photos that describe which way the camera was turned when the picture was snapped. You must either pre-rotate and save the photos using an image editor, or manually rotate them in the merged Word document.
  • You must have an image (or images) for each data record you merge. Otherwise Word will merge in an ugly X icon whenever no image is available to match the data. Unfortunately it's difficult or impossible to tell word to simply blank out missing images.
  • IncludePicture only stores the images' file names (not the images themselves) in the new document. That means that computer you send the merged document to must have access to a copy of the same image files.
  • You can't merge pictures straight from a PDF. There is a sneaky way to do to just that explained below, but the usual way is to open the PDF using Word and then individually copy and paste them into image files using a program such as the Paint program that comes with Windows.

Alternatives If these Limitations Are a Deal-Breaker

Don't give up on mail merging images into your project if one of more of these limitations is a problem. Rather, look into a little one-of-a-kind Microsoft Word add-in called OnMerge Images. The add-in works around all of the IncludePicture limitations I've listed above (including fixing image size and rotation), and makes the entire picture merging process downright easy. It is the only way I know of to mail merge variable photos and images to e-mail or fax with Word. Ditto for mail-merging images directly from PDFs. Recommended by me.


Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on January 25, 2018:

@Elizabeth I don't know for sure what you mean "combines all my document pages into one page."

But, let me hazard a guess: when you merge in the new images, Word will reset each image's size size to its "natural" size regardless of its size in your Merge Template file. This is usually some HUGE size and not the size you want, but it's a feature of Word -- not a bug.

What is a given image's natural size? Right click on it in Windows (not Word) File Manager, then Properties, select the Details tab. Scroll down a bit and you'll see Width & Height, and Horizontal & Vertical Resolution. Divide the width & height by the corresponding resolution to get the size in inches. For example, 600x800 @ 96 dpi = 6.25 x 8.33, basically a whole page.

What to do? In the article, see the 4th bullet point under "Is IncludePicture for You?" If that doesn't work for you, see "Alternatives If these Limitations Are a Deal-Breaker."

Scroll to Continue

Elizabeth Chape on January 25, 2018:

Thanks this was so amazingly helpful -- best resource out there. I have it working perfectly except that I am unable to print. After I select All and F9, all the images come in and look perfect. However, when I try to print it combines all of my document pages into 1 page -- the images and text all overlap. Very strange. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 23, 2016:

@Kevin I just can't offer individual support to the 128,000 people who've visited this page to date. You may find other people's comments above useful.

The instructions do work when followed to the letter, and countless people posting here seem to agree. In particular, refer to poster Karen (15 - 20 items above this one) who said "This took me an hour or so to complete as I was not following instructions as they were specifically given."

As the article says, IncludePicture is a demanding and delicate thing. If you're having trouble with this do-it-yourself method, you may be happier checking out the commercial resources mentioned at the end of the original article.

Kevin E Pyle on March 23, 2016:

Just tried using your instructions on a .doc file in Word 10. Pressing ALT-F9 shows the {MAIL MERGE} codes but the jpg. picture does nothing. Am I missing something?

Albert on May 08, 2015:

Good Work .... Nice Article

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on May 23, 2014:

@Mike: You're doing Ctrl-A, F9, right? Otherwise looks reasonable. Even very simple UNC paths have sometimes been known to cause now-you-see-it-now-you-don't-type issues when merging variable Word fields.

Mike on May 23, 2014:

Hi Wordnut,

My images are on our network in the 5th sub directory level as below.

“\\\\Sidmags\\images-ro\\product\\37\\5552\\37555206.jpg” (this is the path I get when I link to an image from that directory.

The first 3 levels will never change (\\\\Sidmags\\images-ro\\product)

The rest is the department (37), sub-departement (5552) and SKU (37555206.jpg), these values will always change.

Here is my link:

{ INCLUDEPICTURE "\\\\Sidmags\\images-ro\\product\\37\\5552\\37555206.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }

If I just change the last digit before .jpg manually, say change the 6 for a 7, it works and updates my image to that item. So that works fine.

In my database, I created a field I called “Fichier_image2” that concatenates the part that changes (37\\5552\\37555206).

My problem is when I try to link dynamically like this : { INCLUDEPICTURE "\\\\Sidmags\\images-ro\\product\\{mergefield “fichier_image2”}.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }

The result of that dynamic value is the exact same as:

“\\\\Sidmags\\images-ro\\product\\37\\5552\\37555206.jpg” used above.

That’s when it no longer works, all I see is an empty frame with the infamous red X. What am I missing ? I feel I respected all the points noted in this thread however. Would there be a problem going through so many sub-directories ?.

This being a corporate network, there is no way I can copy my document in those directories to be in the same folder.

Thanks for any hints you might provide.

akak2 on March 24, 2014:

@rAjA I often get the same thing when I first merge the doc (no photos initially) and it is only after I save the doc to the same folder where the photos reside, then wait patiently (oftentimes I have perhaps 50 individuals pages with both merged data AND a photo on each page) for everything to sync. The last time I did a merge, I actually had to run it a few times before it took -- I'm not sure why; it was almost like it needed a little kick, but it did work. As I have stated before, however, saving the document into the folder where the photos reside seems to be key for me. Printing the final to pdf will secure the photos in case you want to email these to someone else or just make sure the photos stay within the pages.

PS Have a said "thank you" ever @wordnut for this contribution? We employ this process for our Police Academy facesheets (this is a perm record of each recruit's performance, including their photo, while in the Academy) -- each of these used to be hand-typed with a photo glued to the sheet. Now -- all digital! Very nice...

akak2 on March 24, 2014:

@BOBBY'S PHOTOGRAPHY: Did you try Option + F9?

Junior Jr on March 21, 2014:

Congratulations! It´s a great article.

As you said: "Don't bother reporting the bug to Microsoft; they've known about it for a long time."

So, I am using the Publisher to mail merge graphics and photos.

Thank you very much!

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on January 21, 2014:

@BOBBY I take it you don't run Parallels. Can a Mac person jump in here? I'm just a PC.

BOBBY'S PHOTOGRAPHY on January 21, 2014:

Thanks for your Instruction but I use a Mac computer and when I hit alt +9 nothing happens. PLEASE CAN YOU LET ME what to do

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on December 22, 2013:

@rAjA I just can't offer individual support to the 85,000 people who visit this page. The instructions do work when followed to the letter, and countless people posting here seem to agree. In particular, refer to poster Karen (6 or 7 items above this one) who said "This took me an hour or so to complete as I was not following instructions as they were specifically given."

As the article says, IncludePicture is a demanding and delicate thing. If you're having trouble with this do-it-yourself method, you may be happier checking out the commercial resources mentioned at the end of the original article.

rAjA on December 22, 2013:

My Sweet bro. really thnks for your cooperation but sir your sending

{ INCLUDEPICTURE "d:\\pics\\{ MERGEFIELD "pics" }.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }

command i write same as is tis but finally result zero. no any pic displayed. if you sending me you Email ID is sended you the mail plz you check you self ......

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on December 06, 2013:

@MADAN As many of the people posting on here have mentioned, the instructions do work as long as you follow them TO THE LETTER. Failing that, check out some of the commercial resources mentioned at the end of the article.

MADAN KUMAR on December 06, 2013:


Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on December 05, 2013:

@rAjA try { INCLUDEPICTURE "d:\\pics\\{ MERGEFIELD "pics" }.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }

rAjA Aftab on December 05, 2013:

PLZ HELP SIR I save MS-word in 2003 but i am tried to merge pictures using that code plz help me

my computer path for pictures


{ INCLUDEPICTURE "d:\\pics\\1.jpg{ MERGEFIELD "pics" }.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on November 20, 2013:

@YY See step #2.

YY on November 20, 2013:

Your post has been a wonderful solution for a task in my office. I have built a template using this technique for a few months and colleagues have adopted well. Unfortunately, after a forced Windows Vista update required by the IT department, it no longer works and a blank rectangle is shown instead of the digital signature image (in *.tif) despite there is no change in any coding or file path. Do you happen to have any idea how to fix this? Thanks a millions!

Karen Pardue on September 18, 2013:

This process worked perfectly for me. Please hang in there folks and follow the steps and hints to the letter. The key is here, if you are 2010, save backwards to 2007. After I hit the step of merge to new document, I saw all the same pictures too. Until I followed the step to Control +A. and Then hit F9. Once I saved the file with a new name and saved it as a 2007 file, all the pictures showed up as they should have.

This took me an hour or so to complete as I was not following instructions as they were specifically given.

akak2 on July 19, 2013:

Ah-ha! Save As INTO THE FOLDER WHERE THE PHOTOS ARE STORED! Thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever was the first to suggest that as a way of getting the photos to display. I'm using Windows 7/Word 2010 and drove myself bonkers following all of the steps to a "T" only to come up with many of above-mentioned scenarios (same photo on each page; the includepicture merge string with proper data but no photo; red x in box/no photo, etc.). That last step helped (in my case anyway) the saved file know where to look. Kinda makes sense now when I look at the abbreviated network path string...

jm3 on July 10, 2013:

Thank you for this, others I found did not work. I am making name tags, using labels and am working to include a photo of the person next to their name. The first label is perfect. It includes photo and name. All others only include the name. How do I get the photo to appear on all the other labels? Do I have to repeat the steps or copy paste? I am also having the problem of the photo disappearing after I "finish and merge" to new document, the photo no longer shows. I tried saving as but it didn't work. Lastly, on the tool bar is an option to "update labels" but it is shaded, indicating that it is not usable. How can I use this button? I tried selecting all but that didn't change anything. Thanks!

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 14, 2013:

@crawga this seems like a Mac issue. I'm a Windows guy. Can anybody else jump in?

crawga on March 14, 2013:

I got it...but I see only a picture, the first I use in step 4 when I insert the file, even if going under edit-links, all the other images seem to be linked. What's wrong?

crawga on March 14, 2013:

Hi, i'm trying to create labels with the includepicture procedure. I'm using word 2004 for mac. I can't understand where is the mistake. I followed all the steps, controlled the writing. but when I merge to a new document, it appears only the first image I insert. I know that cntrl+a is comm+9 in Mac system, but what about F9. is F9 the same on Mac? when I click it, the image disappears and turn into a sign of a picture. can you help me?

the code appears like this { INCLUDEPICTURE "Macintosh HD:\\...\\...\\images\\{ MERGEFIELD Title }.jpg"\*MERGEFORMAT \d} in the first label but in the other one is written only {NEXT}. is it correct?

Toby on March 12, 2013:

Thanks for publishing this article! Really useful information. We are going to use this method to print ID cards for 200+ staff. Also well done for providing ongoing technical support to the whole world! Microsoft should put you on their payroll.

Jarrell on February 19, 2013:

Okay, i figured it out already. I cannot save the document right at the beginning. I can only save the document after i have inserted the images at step 4. Only then will i able to have abolsute path which make everything work well. I do not know why but it will only just work this way. anyway thanks for the great tutorial =D

Jarrell on February 19, 2013:

Hi thanks for your reply. I managed to figure it out yesterday and now my coding look like this. I used the IF TRUE to help me with it.

{ INCLUDEPICTURE “{ IF TRUE “D:\\Users\\s42701\\Desktop\\Test\\Images\\ { MERGEFIELD SName }.jpg”}”\*MERGEFORMAT\D }

i did followed all your steps and my code just appeared as relative paths previously and with single forward slashes. I have no idea why too.

Anyway now that it is working, i am really great. But I am still gonna figure out why my code was as such previously when I follow your step by step tutorial.

Thanks ;)

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on February 19, 2013:

@Jarrell Yes, Word 2010 & 2013 work fine, but make absolutely sure you did Step 2. Looking at the code you show, I don't know if it's a transcription error, but 1) did you do step 10?, 2) there should be no space between \ and *, 3) use double backslashes to separate folder names, not single forward slashes, and 4) I don't recommend using relative paths since they create lots of confusion; stick with absolute paths, e.g. c:\\folder\\images\\cupcakes.jpg

Jarrell on February 18, 2013:

{ INCLUDEPICTURE "Images/cupcakes1.jpg" \ * MERGEFORMAT \D }

I realised mine code appear this way after i insert picture and click link to file. Could this be the reason why i am getting the same images instead of different images? Can anyone help me? What should i do to make it work? My images are save in a test folder on my desktop.

Thanks in advance.

Jarrell on February 18, 2013:

Hi, does this work on word 2010? I tried the steps mentioned above and didn't managed to get different image for each person. My database is in excel 2010 and so i link it to there. Am i doing it right?

BR on February 18, 2013:

Hi... it worked on labels too :-) Thank you very much.... GBU

BR on February 18, 2013:

Hi, does this work for Labels too please? I could do it for letters but not for labels

Larry M on January 22, 2013:

Super! I'm very comfortable with both Merge and VBA. I was about to spend a couple of hours writing a VBA macro to do this. Now I can do it without the design effort. Thanks!!

Preethi Soundararajan on December 18, 2012:

This was very useful. Thanks a ton for posting this! I followed the instructions to the minute detail, and 'it worked'!! Wish I could have resized the images through mail merge, though. I went in and resized it in the 'new document' after the mail merge. Worked only after I saved the doc in Word 97-2003 format.

Rudy on October 19, 2012:

Thx alot very very ..... helpful ...... GBU

Astrid on September 28, 2012:

I had the problem that after merging the document there was still the same picture in every record. No matter how often I did the CTRL+A and F9-thing.

Then I saved the merged document. Closed it. Reopened it. CTRL+A nd F9. Big fat grin on my face. There are all my beautyful pictures.

I wouldn't have made it without this article. Thanks.

paleolith on July 04, 2012:

Jo, see my comment just above yours -- try Save As on the document, either into the same folder or into the signatures folder (if different). I don't know whether you have the same problem I did, but it's worth a try.

Jo on July 04, 2012:

I can get the signatures into my mail merge, but when I re-open the document the signatures have disappeared, any ideas why this happens?

paleolith on April 23, 2012:

I just did it again, and again Word did not find the photos -- and again, Save As into the same folder revived it. So I'm continuing to go with my hypothesis that Word forgets the path to the images folder, and that Save As resets it. This might be related to the images folder being in the same folder as the Word file, but I haven't tried any variations on that.

paleolith on April 06, 2012:

So frustrating. Just spent another 45 minutes with the same document I posted about a couple of months ago. It worked then, I re-opened it, it didn't work (no images after merge). Played around with re-inserting, using full path, etc. Finally did Save As to the same folder and it works. Then re-opened the original doc and it works. My tentative conclusion is that Word forgets where it's supposed to be looking for the images and needs to be prodded. I just wish I could figure out exactly how and where I'm prodding it.


TomRedox on March 27, 2012:

Incredibly useful, thank you very much for posting it.

A note to fellow developers: This works fine for from code to. Use the instructions to create the merge field and then just merge the picture name, or you can also merge in the whole file path (remembering to double slash the paths as per the instructions and delete the root path that was previously left in).

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 19, 2012:

@Lightning007 I don't have any joy for you. Fancy VB programming is way beyond the scope of this humble 101-level Hub. I'm trying to keep it G rated! In any event, Word's events are oriented toward major things like loading/saving, and are not really designed for advising you of "mere" changes to a document's contents or formatting.

Lightning007 on March 18, 2012:

Thanks Wordnut I appreciate your guidance on the issue of using insertpicture with a URL from a bookmark. Sounds like I need the add-in but I am worried about the logistics of installing it on every PC in the place (about 500). Its too bad that MS does not put the functionality into Word. I could use VB but the bookmarks load after the auto-open event. Do you know of a way that a bookmark being loaded/populated could trigger an event to start a VB macro. I am sure I could load the image from a url stored in a bookmark using some VB if I tried hard. ??

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 16, 2012:

@jt Say, jt, could you pls share your solution? Seems that hr could benefit from your experience.

hr on March 16, 2012:

I keep getting the same issue as JT. the merged document shows different jpg files as listed in my excel source, but alt F9 (or as on my laptop Fn alt F9) doesn't do anything and i still get the same first image showing each time. Please help!!

jt on March 15, 2012:

Nevermind, I got it to work! Thanks for all your help!!

jt on March 15, 2012:

You were right-I selecting one of the incorrect images and hit F9. It changed to the correct image. Any thoughts on why the Ctrl-A isn't selecting all images??

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 14, 2012:

@jt I'm assuming you've merged to a new document (Edit Invividual Documents) and are doing Ctrl-A, F9 in the new document. The behavior you're experiencing tells me either the Ctrl-A or the F9 aren't working. Try individually selecting an incorrect image by clicking on it, then hitting F9. Any change? If so, you'll need to figure out why Ctrl-A isn't selecting all images for you. Otherwise, if F9 isn't working, the only possible cause I know of is fancy keyboards that assign another meaning to the F-keys unless you put them in F-Lock mode.

jt on March 14, 2012:

I can't get the picture to change. All the letters have the same picture on them. { INCLUDEPICTURE "T:\\Logo\\{ MERGEFIELD "Image" }.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d } Logo is the name of the folder in the T drive where the different jpeg images are located. Image is the merge field in my excel data source containing the name of the logo I want to use for each entry. Even after doing Step 10, it still remains the same jpg I chose at the beginning. However, the name of the jpg changes to what it's supposed to be, it just doesn't update the picture. This is a .doc What am I doing wrong??

jt on March 14, 2012:

I have very carefully followed all the steps listed above. I tried putting the entire path in the excel column, and just the logo name. When I Insert picture, it doesn't pull in the entire path C:\\... it just shows that last folder it is in. I can't get this to work. I am using a .doc instead of .docx as advised. No matter what I try, I cannot get the logo at the top to change. It stays the same as the one I chose originally. When I click one of the pages that should have a different logo, and do ALT+F9, it shows that the name.jpeg is changing, but the actual logo doesn't change...and I didn't forget to do step 10! Help!!

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 12, 2012:

@Lightning007 Yup, referencing bookmarks inside an IncludePicture can be pretty hit & miss. I've had uneven success trying to do that, so I avoid it. Doesn't sound like you have the option to avoid the task, so all I can say is that the addin I mentioned in the last paragraph of the original article (wow, 85 comments, you really have to scroll!) under "Alternatives If..." works reliably with bookmarks.

Lightning007 on March 12, 2012:

Have you any idea how to include a picture into a document that has the file path in a bookmark. We have a CRM system that passes information into bookmarks in a document, so then I want the document to use the file path specidied in the bookmark to load the picture. I have tried using {Ref F157} in the includepicture fieldcode in many different ways but it doesn't seem to work. Any ideas. Thankyou

Morgan on February 12, 2012:

What about if you want to paste an image from a website into WORD 2010 edition?

Richard on February 06, 2012:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. This walk through had the 'missing piece' that was the key from he to get this feature to work.

paleolith on January 29, 2012:

Just a comment which might help someone.

Sometimes MS Word 2002 insists on storing a relative path with slashes, rather than an absolute path with double backslashes. I haven't figured out why, but it did this to me.

The first time I followed this procedure, it worked. I went back to change some formatting, and it didn't work, didn't update the images, I even tried several times, created new documents, etc. I started investigating and noticed the relative path being stored. I spent a couple of hours trying to make it store the absolute path. I tried the suggestions from some comments here about changing web options. I tried saving the merged document to see if an unsaved document with the relative paths was the problem. Finally I tried yet again with a new document, for the umpteenth time, let it store the relative path, and now it's working fine.

I'm not sure exactly what happened when it failed, but probably I got one of the steps wrong. I've been using Mail Merge for at least 15 years, so I understand the procedure -- and I understand how easy it is to get one little thing wrong and have nothing work. So probably it failed due to something I did, and then I noticed the relative path and got sidetracked on that rather than just trying again the straightforward way.

So what I take from this is: if you do insert/picture/from file/link to file, and MS Word inserts a relative path with plain slashes, let it be. I don't know why or when it does that, but that's not the problem.

Thanks for posting this and maintaining it!


Tina Hilton on October 19, 2011:

I've been trying to do this for a couple of years with no luck. This finally worked, with a caveat. I could only make it work if the pictures were saved to another drive. I even tried putting them right on the C drive and it still didn't work. I would only get the little red X box after the ctrl-A and F9. But I'm happy enough with this workaround. Thanks for putting this information out there.

unuwot on October 14, 2011:

this is great and will be so usefull when it works. I am trying to include three signatures all saved in the same folder. When I run the merge the same signature is used in each document. Then when I select all and F9, all the images go to the red X. Any ideas?

Many thanks

Hong on July 21, 2011:

That is awesome!! you my friend are a genius!

Arrhg on July 18, 2011:

No joke, this worked last week and now doesn't work. I've restarted, closed, danced a ditty. I'm only getting the red box instead of the image. Oh Microsoft, why?

carolinemoon on July 17, 2011:

Well written wordnut. Very useful hub!

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on July 14, 2011:

@Peter See the last 2 paragraphs of the article.

Peter on July 14, 2011:


it doesn't work with svg-Files. Have you got a solution for this issue?

Thanks in advance :)

Nguyễn Nam on June 29, 2011:

Many thanks for great tutorial, I had struggle with this problem before, but now it is done. Many thanks for WordNut. I hope you will have more useful tutorial for us.

Best regards

Michael on June 28, 2011:

No, I'm merging the same document.

In trying things out again, I've discovered that if I open the .doc file, do a Save As in Word 97-2003 Document format, then do the merge, it updates okay. This means that the Microsoft Word 2007 bug mentioned in step 2 above is complicated. The extra Save As is more work but it gets around my problem.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on June 27, 2011:

@Micheal Wait a minute... you mean you're merging to a new document, then expecting the new document to update later? That's not the way it works. If you need to update later, just rerun the original merge.

Let's say your template is { IncludePicture "{ MergeField LAST }.jpg" \d }. After you do the merge, the merged-to document will contain a page with something like { IncludePicture "Jones.jpg" }. Notice that Word's merge process replaced the MergeField with the database's contents in the merged-to document. Doing Ctrl-A, F9 will update that example to load the image Jones.jpg, but any further updates will simply reload Jones.jpg with no change. No matter what changes you make to your database, the new merged-to document had its MergeField replaced with the hard-coded "Jones," so you'll see no further change.

Michael on June 26, 2011:

The fields are all okay after Alt-F9 and back. They just don't update. Maybe it's a Word security problem. I can't find any Word option that controls includepicture, though. I saw another site mentioning a registry fix somewhat related to this problem but it only went up through Office 10 and I'm using Office 12.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on June 26, 2011:

@Micheal Do Alt-F9 to make sure the fields are still there, intact.

Michael on June 26, 2011:

No, I saved the file when I first created it as a .doc.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on June 25, 2011:

@Michael Sounds like you saved as a .docx. See Step 2.

Michael on June 25, 2011:

I'm using Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 (Word) in Windows 7. Following the instructions in, I set up an includepicture command: {INCLUDEPICTURE {MERGEFIELD Maiden_name_actual}_{MERGEFIELD First_name_actual}.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d} which updates the picture later when I use ctrl-A, F9. However, when I save the Word document, reboot, and reopen the document, ctrl-A, F9 doesn't update the picture anymore.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on May 31, 2011:

@J It's OK to use an Excel spreadsheet as your merge database. Adding a spreadsheet column containing the image filename to merge should work fine.

J on May 30, 2011:

May I clear my doubts that the database to be mail merge should be in excel format? And I should have a column for the pictures to be merged?

I am new to this. Thanks

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on May 23, 2011:

@Chris Newman Please see original article, under the subhead Is IncludePicture For You? There's no way to merge images straight to the printer. The only way I know of to merge straight to the printer or email is to use an addin.

I don't use Citrix, have no advice to offer there.

Chris Newman on May 23, 2011:

Hi all,

I have the merge filed working, however this will not automatically update when I send the document to a printer. I can alt-f9 on each image to pull it in. But I am merging hundreds of documents, is there a word setting that can tell the printer to essentially perform the alt-f9 command?

Secondly do I need to do anything with Citrix settings to perform this alt-f9 task when printing over Citrix?

Thanks in advance

chrisn7 on May 20, 2011:

I solved this at last! I originally postioned the signatures inside a fixed size text box, in separate documents, formatted to show no lines, so that different sized signature images would not move text further down the page-just forgot all about the hidden text box...just got to get all the images the same size now....Thank you for your patience.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on May 19, 2011:

@chrisn7 I'm at a loss, don't know what else could be wrong. Oh no, my super powers have failed me! Anybody want to jump in here?

To debug this, I'd just use the free tryout version of the addin referenced near the end of the article. If it doesn't work either, then your copy of Word is messed up and you should use the Repair option of Word's setup program. If it does work, then IncludePicture works fine and it's back to the 'ol drawing board...

chrisn7 on May 19, 2011:

Hi Wordnut

I posted about 2 months ago, and now have time to come back to this. We are now using Word 2007, but the document was created as a .doc and is still saved as that. I feel I have followed all the steps, with correct spaces, double backslashes, use of Ctrl+A,F9 on the merged document-in fact everything goes well-except that like others above, the signature/image doesn't change. Using Alt+F9 shows a diffent image being requested-I'm still in the same position!

Officer on May 13, 2011:

My problem is solved now with using the absolute path for the pictures. Thanks a lot.

How to ensure that word uses the absolute path instead of the relative path:

Use a different drive for editing the document, edit and save it. Then copy it back to the original drive without editing again.

WT on May 12, 2011:

I realise my mistake was step 10. So i click ctrl + A then F9. But, this time round all my pictures all gone and replace by the red cross. How should i go about from there?

Many thanks.

WT on May 12, 2011:

Hey wordnut, I had manage to merge. However, after i click finish and merge - edit individual documents, my picture for each of the different badge is the same. May i ask what has gone wrong?

WT on May 10, 2011:

@wordnut Thank you so much! I will try till i finally get it! Thank you!!

Officer on May 10, 2011:

great article, I'll try it tomorrow

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on May 10, 2011:

@WT 1) You need to manually double-up backslashes yourself. 2) Blanks/spaces as shown in examples are not optional -- every single one must be there. I'll be the first to admit that IncludePicture can be a real bear (notice all the comments/questions above), but don't give up!

WT on May 09, 2011:

Hi can anyone tell me why my code doesn't have 2 backlash automatically? I cant continue after being stuck here.

Code - {INCLUDEPICTURE "Profile/Pehin.jpg"\*MERGEFORMAT\d}

Will really appreciate if anyone could help :)

Jamie on May 04, 2011:

If you have problems saving your linked image like I did above, do this:

Select Tools > Options > General > Web Options and uncheck 'Update links on save'

Jamie on May 04, 2011:

I'm using a .doc file and getting the data from an Access database. I have my signature field set up as { INCLUDEPICTURE "{ MERGEFIELD "S_Signature" }.JPG" \* MERGEFORMAT \d } The S_signature field has the path and file name without the extension. I can view my document, send it to the new document and update it and all works great. When I save my original document, my field changes to: { INCLUDEPICTURE "Signatures/Wendy.JPG" \* MERGEFORMAT \d } and it no longer uses the mail merge field. I'm trying to create a letter that my team of 5 uses. All the other mailmerge fields work great except the signature. My company is too cheep to buy software. :( Any ideas as to what is going on here?

BSP on April 29, 2011:

thanks dude..this is what I want...

LB on April 27, 2011:

@wordnut Thank you for the help, it finally worked!

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on April 27, 2011:

@LB Use F9, then Alt-F9 on the new document to see what the fields look like with the database merged in. You'll probably find that the name in the field is messed up, the database field name isn't valid, or the database doesn't contain what you expect. Any names or parts of names you manually code in the field must have backslants doubled-up. If you're using network file names, I recommend using ones on the local disk instead since Word gets confused by the \\ in \\SERVER\... File names *from the database* don't need the backslants doubled-up.

LB on April 27, 2011:

When I hit F9 after I have merged to a new document the pictures don't show up at all, just a little x in the top left corner.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on April 27, 2011:

@LB Sounds like you eigher skipped step 10, or were using the .docx format during some step of of creating your master document (see step 2).

LB on April 27, 2011:

No matter what I do, whenever I merge to a new document the picture that I originally inserted shows up in all of the fields. I have used every combination of slashes I can think of and have made sure all of the spaces are correct. Why won't this work? Someone please help.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 30, 2011:

@dawrana: I gather that the field coding that doesn't change with Alt-F9 just stays as text, right? I'm guessing that you just pasted in ordinary {}'s instead of inserting them with Crtl-F9. Different thing entirely. Please follow steps 4 & 5 to the letter to avoid these problems.

@NS: Don't forget to do Step 10.

NS on March 30, 2011:

Hi Wordnut,

Thank you for noticing that. However, once I did the next step which is edit all individual to a new document, its giving me the same picture as the first one although the name of the mail merge changes. But not the picture.

Please help.



dawrana on March 29, 2011:

In Windows 7 and Word 2010, my IncludePicture file won't toggle using Alt + F9.

At Step 4, I Insert the required picture using "Link to File" as before. However, when I try to toggle, using "Alt + F9" (Step 5), nothing happens. Any ideas, please, about what's happening? I don't want to have to Insert a string of code - I'm hoping to be able to follow the old technique. The database is .doc, not .docx and I think I'm following all the same steps as before. The inserted data fields all toggle correctly - but not the inserted picture. Do I need to change my "View"? Help, please. Thank you.

Mister Word (author) from Californiaaah on March 29, 2011:

@NS you need to double-up the \ after "Mail Merge Test"

NS on March 29, 2011:

Hi there,

I need help please, I been trying this for a few hours and still can't get it to work.

{ INCLUDEPICTURE "C:\\Documents and Settings\\a56000\\My Documents\\Mail Merge Test\{ MERGEFIELD First_Name } { MERGEFIELD Last_Name }.jpg" \* MERGEFORMAT \d }

I have also tried by creating another column in the data base that have both first name and last name together to avoid the two mergefield, it doesn't work either.

Please help.

Thank you in advance.


Andre on March 24, 2011:


I am a photographer involved in graduation ceremonies at Universities. During such a graduation day I have a database with student names and detail and we might photograph 2000-3000 students per day. I am in search of software that can assist in linking the database entry to the photo (or photos ) of the individual. What I can gather from what similar company elsewhere in the world are doing, is that they issue each student with a unique barcode (linked to their database entry). As the student gets to the photographer the barcode gets scanned and the software link the images to follow with the database entry.

Do you have software or ideas that can help with this process?



Related Articles