Change the Format of a Date Field in a Word Mail Merge Using Switches

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated December 28, 2020

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

You can change the format of a date field in a Microsoft Word mail merge document using switches in field codes. Typically, date formatting problems occur when the source document for the mail merge is an Excel workbook or Access database. Mail merge date fields can only be changed using switches. A date switch is a field code that changes the format of a date field (such as mm/dd/yy).

A date field in a Word mail merge is typically inserted in the main document using Insert Merge Field on the Mailings tab in the Ribbon.

Related article: How to Use Mail Merge in Microsoft Word to Generate Form Letters

Using codes in a date field switch

The common codes used in a date switch are d for day, M for month (this must be entered as a capital M as m is used for minutes) and y for year as follows:

d = one or two-digit day

dd = two-digit day

ddd = abbreviated day name

dddd = full day name

M = one or two-digit month

MM = two-digit month

MMM = abbreviated month name

MMMM = full month name

yy = two-digit year

yyyy = four-digit year

Date switches start with \@ and the codes that follow must be entered in quotes or double quotes. Field codes are enclosed in curly brackets.

The syntax of the full mail merge date field code with the switch is:

{MERGEFIELD FieldName \@ “datecodes”}

Changing the format of Word mail merge date field using a switch

To use a switch to change the format of a mail merge date field in Word, you will first need to display the field code and then type the switch starting with \@:

  1. In the main Word mail merge document, select the date field.
  2. Right-click the field and choose Toggle Field Codes from the drop-down menu to display the field code. You can also press Shift + F9 to display the field code.
  3. If necessary, delete \*MERGEFORMAT from the field code.
  4. Enter the switch after the field name (such as \@ “MMMM d/yy”). Be sure to type a space after \@.
  5. Right-click the field and choose Toggle Field Codes from the drop-down menu to hide the field code. You can also press Shift + F9 to hide the field code.
  6. Right-click in the field and select Update Field from the drop-down menu. You can also press F9 to update the field.
  7. Run the merge by selecting Edit Individual documents from the Mailings tab in the Ribbon and then click OK in the dialog box. In the merged document, the date should appear in the switch format.

Date field formatting examples

The following are examples of mail merge date fields formatted using switches.

To change the date field formatting to a format to display the year, month and day (such as 2020-12-28), we used the following switch:

{MERGEFIELD RegistrationDate \@ “yyyy-MM-dd”}

To change the date field formatting to display the full  month name and 4-digit year (such as December 2020), we used the following switch:

{MERGEFIELD RegistrationDate \@ “MMMM yyyy”}

To change the date field formatting to display the full month name, one or two-digit day and four-digit year (such as December 28, 2020), we used the following switch:

{MERGEFIELD RegistrationDate \@ “MMMM d, yyyy”}

The name of the date merge field in the above examples comes from the Excel source file. The curly brackets cannot be typed.

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How to Change Date Formats in Word Mail Merge Fields
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How to Change Date Formats in Word Mail Merge Fields
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You can change the format of a date field in a Microsoft Word mail merge document using switches in field codes. Typically, date formatting problems occur when the source document for the mail merge is an Excel workbook or Access database. Mail merge date fields can only be changed using switches. A date switch is a field code that changes the format of a date field (such as mm/dd/yy).
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Avantix Learning

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