One of the most basic functions in Microsoft Word is printing envelopes and labels. You’d think that such a basic function would be pretty intuitive. It’s not. One of the most frequent questions I get from longtime WordPerfect users is, “Where on earth are the envelopes (or labels) in Word?”
But even for those who worked in Microsoft Word for years, this feature can be a little hard to find. Some of the problem stems from Microsoft’s habit of moving this feature around between versions of Word. (I think I even remember it being under the Format menu in one long-ago version. It’s moved twice since then!) So we’re going to look at the process in both the Ribbon-based version and the “classic” menu-based versions.
Along the way, I’m going to show you not only the “textbook” way of doing envelopes, but my own preferred method, which I think makes creating an on-the-fly envelope (on pre-printed letterhead) a lot easier (but that’s for you to judge).
Let’s start with the Ribbon versions, 2007/2010, and then deal with the differences in the menu-based versions 2003 and earlier.
Fortunately, in the two most recent, Ribbon-based versions of Microsoft Word, the envelopes and labels feature can be found in the same place: the Mailings tab.
Over on the far left are Envelopes and Labels. Let’s start by clicking Envelopes:
You’ll notice immediately that the dialog box you get is actually for both Envelopes and Labels. Depending on whether you clicked on Envelopes or Labels on the Mailings tab, the correct tab on this dialog box will be selected by default. However, you can always click on the other tab if you’ve changed your mind.
But what you want to know right now is how address an envelope. By default, you could simply type something in the Delivery address field, put your return address in the indicated field (if it’s not there already, which it would be if you’d saved it there, in which case, you may not even need this tutorial), and hit the Print button. And most of the time, that’ll work just fine.
Note: As Todd notes below in the comments (and as I’ve verified on my own computer), Word will actually insert the address for you if you have your cursor right before the address:
(Click the button in the lower right-hand corner to view it full screen. If you’re viewing from an iPhone/iPad, click here: Word-auto-address-envelope.mp4
Before we move on to Labels, however, let’s explore this Envelopes tab a bit further so you’ll know how to tweak the settings on your own. Let’s click the Options button.
Since I’m in the U.S., this is defaulting to a standard No. 10 envelope, but the drop-down provides a whole list of choices. Microsoft Word also has some embedded default settings for the placement of both the delivery and return addresses, but you can adjust those too, as well as the font used.
Let’s switch over to the Printing Options tab:
Again, Microsoft Word (based on your printer driver) will set a default feed method for your envelope. Most of the time, you can just leave this setting alone. However, if you find that your envelope needs to be fed into the manual feed or envelope tray in a different way or position, you can reset that here.
Going back to the Envelopes and Labels dialog box, we see that we have two options for producing the envelope: Print and Add to Document. Clicking on Print, obviously, sends the envelope straight to the printer. Clicking on Add to Document inserts a page at the top of your document formatted as an envelope.
One of the advantages of doing Add to Document is that you can go back and change the envelope if you need to. A disadvantage, however, is that you have to be careful how you print the document, particularly if the envelope has to be manually fed and the remainder of the document does not. Experiment and figure out which works best for you and your particular setup.
The Guru’s Favorite Method
Speaking of “what works best for you,” this brings me, as an aside, to my own preferred method for creating envelopes. Every morning, when Microsoft Word opens a blank document upon start-up, I go ahead and format that document as an envelope, with the margins set up to place the delivery address 2.5 inches from the top and 4.0 inches from the left (standard for a no. 10 envelope).
To do this, I go to the Page Layout tab and perform several actions:
First, I set the Paper Size/Type to a No. 10 envelope:
Next, I set to the page orientation to Landscape:
Finally, I set the margins to 2.5 inches top, 4.0 inches left, and 0.5 inches bottom and right.
And yes, it’s possible to do all these steps within the Margins and Paper tabs of the Page Setup dialog box itself by clicking on that tiny grey launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Page Setup section of the Page Layout tab (or double-clicking on the horizontal or vertical rulers):
To make this even easier for myself, I’ve created a macro for these settings and placed a shortcut button on my Quick Access Toolbar. That way, every time Microsoft Word starts up, I just click that button to run the macro on the blank document and, voilà, I have an envelope form I can start using immediately.
This enables me to print multiple letterhead envelopes throughout the day (since the margin settings above prevent my putting in a return address). All I have to do is copy and paste addresses from letters in progress and print from the envelope form. Once I have the envelope(s) I need, I can simply delete the address(es) and reuse the form.
This method may not be for you. That’s okay. But this just illustrates that there’s always more than one way to accomplish something in Microsoft Word.
Word 2003 and earlier
There are just enough differences between the menu-based version of the process and the Ribbon-based one to confuse users who are switching between the two versions. Fortunately, the differences are on the front end. Once you get past the initial menu, you’ll find the various dialog boxes are virtually identical to the ones shown above.
To get the process started, go to Tools | Letters and Mailings | Envelopes and Labels:
Once you do that, you’ll see the Envelope Options dialog box with its two tabs, so the instructions are the same as above.
And if you want to use my “keep a form open all day” method, getting to the Page Setup dialog box involves going to the File menu (completely counter-intuitive), then clicking Page Setup:
… which takes you to a dialog box that changed very little from 2002/2003 to 2007/2010:
Next time: Labels
Part 2 of this series (click here) will deal with formatting labels. Yes, we’ll be using many of the same steps and dialog boxes, but there are some special considerations here, particularly if you’re used to the way WordPerfect does these things.
What envelope printing challenges do you encounter? What do you want to know about labels? Tell me in the comments below!