Merge Document Templates

PensionPro's Merge Documents feature is a useful tool for quickly inserting stored data into a Microsoft Word template. However, before this feature can be utilized, a Merge Document Template must be created; this Template contains the Word document to be used, along with the settings that will be applied when the Merge Document is created.


Tier Availability: Business

Security Rights Required: Access Merge Documents


Article Contents






Using Merge Documents in PensionPro follows three basic steps:


  1. Create a Merge Document Template in PensionPro. This will define the settings for the document and determine which information can be merged.
  2. Attach a Template File to the Merge Document Template. The Template File is the Microsoft Word document that PensionPro data will be pulled into.
  3. Access the Merge Document Creation tool from a relevant PensionPro record. During this process, the record's data will be added to the Template File, and the settings from the Merge Document Template will be applied.


The information that can be pulled into a Merge Document is dependent on the record type that the Merge Document Creation tool is launched from. Merge Documents can be used with the following record types:


  • Contacts
  • Plans
  • Projects
  • Distributions
  • SalesPitch Proposals



Merge Document Templates


The Merge Document Template contains the settings that will be applied each time it is used to create a Merge Document. The Template determines the record type it can be used with, which Template File the information is pulled into, and what PensionPro does with the Merge Document after creation.


To access Merge Document Templates, navigate to Communications > Merge Documents. The Merge Document Templates grid opens, displaying any Templates that already exist.


Hovering over a Template in the grid displays the Copycopy.png and Deletedelete.png options on the right-hand side. Double-click on a Template to open it for editing; the Summary, Fields, and Filters views will be available.



Adding a Template


To create a new Merge Document Template, select Addadd.png at the top-right of the grid; the Add New Template window will display. When all fields are set as desired, select Save to finish adding the Template.


The Add New Template window contains the following fields:


Name & Description

Identifies the Template and its use.



References the record type that this Template can be used with. This will be determined by the type of data that should be present in the finished Merge Document. For example, Contact is a good fit for personalized mailings that include a name, company, or date of birth; Project might be used to insert a Period End date or Project Field information. Some data is available in multiple Sources; for instance, Plan data is also available when using Project as the Source.


The available Sources are:


  • Contacts
  • Plans
  • Projects
  • Distributions
  • SalesPitch (for Proposals)



Determines the default file format of the Merge Document after creation. This may be changed later when using the Merge Document Creation tool. Available options are DOCX or PDF.


Warning: Some formatting may not carry over correctly during document conversion when PDF is used. This is more common with highly stylized documents; be sure to thoroughly test the Merge Document if a PDF output is desired.



Determines what PensionPro does with the Merge Document after creation. This may be changed later when using the Merge Document Creation tool. 


The following list denotes the various Actions that may be set. Note that some Actions may not be available depending on the Source selected.


Download File

The created document is saved to the user's device.

Send using Email
After creation, an email draft will open in the user's default email application with the document attached.
Send using Secure File Exchange
After creation, the Add Secure File Exchange window will open with the document attached.
Upload to Plan Administrative Forms / Fiduciary Files / Legal Files
After creation, the document is added directly to the chosen view within the relevant Plan tab.
Upload to Project / Distribution / Proposal Files
After creation, the document is added directly to the Project's, Distribution's, or Proposal's Files view.


Note: When any Action other than Download File is chosen, additional fields will appear in the Add New Template window. These will define the default settings for this Action. More information on these settings can be found in the articles Secure File Exchange and Files & Documents.


File Upload

The File Selection box can be used to navigate to and select the Microsoft Word document that will be used as the Template File—in other words, the document that will be populated with PensionPro data. Only the .docx file type is supported. If PensionPro doesn't recognize a Merge Field in use by the Template File, or if the Merge Field is not relevant to the Source, the Template File cannot be imported.


The name of the selected file at the time of upload will be the default File Name for Merge Documents created using this template. This default File Name can be changed if desired; refer to the section Template Fields for more details.


Uploading a Template File is optional when creating a new Merge Document Template; in fact, PensionPro recommends adding the Merge Document Template prior to creating and uploading a corresponding Template File.


If an incorrect file was chosen, select Removeremove.png to clear the current file and re-display the File Selection box.


Allow Missing Data

When set to Yes, a Merge Document can be created even in cases where there is no data to be added to the document. If set to No, the Merge Document cannot be created until the data is available.


Use Custom Formatting

When set to Yes, alternate formatting can be applied to inserted data, overriding the format that is used by PensionPro. If set to No, the inserted data will use PensionPro's formatting. For more information on utilizing this functionality in a Template File, refer to the section Custom Formatting.



Template Summary


Many of a Merge Document Template's settings can be edited after creation. This is performed from the Summary view of the Template.


To edit a Template's settings, select Editedit.png at the top-right of the grid; the Edit Template window will display. The settings found in the Edit Template window match those that are available when creating the Template; refer to the section Adding a Template for details.


If a Word Template File has been uploaded to the Merge Document Template, it can be re-downloaded for editing by selecting the filename in the Template File field on this view.



Template Fields


The Fields view of the Template contains the Merge Fields that can be used within the Merge Document. A Merge Field acts as a placeholder; it will be replaced with appropriate data when the Merge Document is created. For example, the Merge Field PL_Plan_Name will be replaced with the name of the Plan.


Merge Fields in this view can be added to the File Name field, resulting in a customized File Name for each created Merge Document. This cannot be performed until a Template File has been uploaded.


To add a Merge Field to the File Name:


  1. Expand the Merge Field categories until the desired Field is located.
  2. Click once to select the Merge Field.
  3. Select the purple arrow at the right of the File Name field to insert the Merge Field at the end of the File Name.
    • Multiple Fields may be added to the File Name.
    • A Merge Field may be moved elsewhere in the File Name, so long as the structure (Field code in brackets) is preserved.
    • The File Name can be edited without using any Merge Fields.
  4. When finished, select Savesave.png at the top-right.


Additionally, any of the available Merge Fields can be quickly copied for use in creating the Template File in Microsoft Word. To copy a Merge Field:


  1. Expand the Merge Field categories until the desired Field is located.
  2. Double-click the Merge Field to copy it to the clipboard.



Template Filters


The Filters view of the Template provides a selection of filters which can be used to simplify Merge Document creation. For example, when Clients have multiple addresses on file, setting the Client Address Type filter to Mailing Address will automatically select a Client's Mailing Address when using the Merge Document Creation tool.


Setting a filter does not lock out other options; continuing with the above example, a Billing Address could be manually chosen instead when the document is created.


To apply a filter:


  1. Select Editedit.png at the top-right of the grid. The Edit Filters window displays.
  2. Use the dropdowns to set the desired filter(s).
    • The available filters are determined by the Template's Source.
  3. When finished, select Save.



Word Template Files


A Template File is the file that contains the notice, letter, or document that will be populated with PensionPro data. This file is typically a generic document with Merge Field coding occupying the spaces where individualized information will be inserted.


Once a Template File is created, it is uploaded and attached to a Merge Document Template in PensionPro. A user familiar with Merge Field coding may prepare a Template File prior to creating the Merge Document Template; however, this article will assume that the Merge Document Template has already been added.


The instructions in this article are specific to Template File created in Microsoft Word and saved in .docx format, which is the only supported file type. Note that PensionPro is only able to provide limited assistance in the use of Word for creating Template Files.



Inserting a Merge Field


The instructions in this section pertain to inserting a Merge Field code into a Word Template File.


First, perform these steps in PensionPro:


  1. If a Merge Document Template is not yet available for this document, follow the steps in the section Adding a Template to create one.
  2. Open the Merge Document Template, then select the Fields view from the list on the left. The corresponding screen will display.
  3. Expand the Merge Field categories until the desired Field is located.
  4. Double-click the Merge Field to copy it to the clipboard.


Next, perform these steps in Microsoft Word:


  1. Click within the document to place the text cursor at the location the Merge Field should be inserted.
  2. Navigate to the the Insert menu found below the title bar.
  3. Within the Text section of the Insert menu, select Quick Parts > Field. The Field window will display.
  4. In the Please choose a field section on the left, find the Field names box and select MergeField.
  5. In the Field properties section in the center, paste the contents of the clipboard into the Field name field. This will insert the Merge Field reference that was copied from PensionPro.
  6. Select OK.


If successful, the Merge Field reference will be shown in double angle brackets, such as «PL_Plan_Name». Any styling applied to this tag (such as font or text size) will be applied to the replacement text when the Merge Document is created.


Warning: Typing or pasting the Merge Field reference with angle brackets into the document is not sufficient to instruct PensionPro that a merge should be performed in that location. Inserting the Merge Field via the process above is required.


Once all the desired Merge Fields have been added, remember to save the file and upload it to the Merge Document Template.



Custom Formatting


For certain fields, the format PensionPro uses for data may not be ideal for a client communication. For example, a timestamp may be included with a date, or a monetary value may be cut off at a single decimal place. In these cases, it can be useful to add custom formatting to the Template File, which can automatically alter the inserted data to a preferred format.


To learn more about custom formatting options, refer to the Microsoft Support article Format field results↗.


Formatting a Date

These instructions are intended to be used as a starting point to demonstrate how custom formatting may be applied. In this example, the format of a Project Period End date will be changed from 12/31/2020 to December 31, 2020 after the Merge Document is created.


The following steps should be performed within the Word Template File:


  1. Add the PR_Period_End Merge Field to the Template File using the steps in the section Inserting a Merge Field.
  2. Right-click on the inserted Merge Field tag and select Toggle Field Codes from the context menu.
    • The text will change from «PR_Period_End» to the following:
      This is the code that defines the Merge Field formatting.
    • Alternately, use Alt+F9 to toggle all field codes within the document.
  3. Add the following to the text after PR_Period_End: \@ "MMMM d, yyyy"
    • The text will now read:
      { MERGEFIELD PR_Period_End \@ "MMMM d, yyyy" \* MERGEFORMAT }
    • \@ specifies that the next instruction formats a date.
    • "MMMM d, yyyy" defines the month, day, and year formatting of the date.
  4. If desired, select Toggle Field Codes from the context menu again to revert the Merge Field to its simplified view.
  5. Save the file and upload it to the Merge Document Template.



Frequently Asked Questions


  • Is it possible to add multiple Merge Fields for Plan Roles and the names of Employees or Contacts that fill those Roles?
    At this time, any time a Merge Field might reference one of a number of potential values—such as in the case of Plan Roles—only one of those values can be inserted when the document is created.

  • Can I use conditional logic in my Word Template File?
    Yes, conditional logic that evaluates a Merge Field will function correctly after the Merge Document is created. PensionPro can only provide limited support for the use of conditional logic.

  • I need to make changes to a Template File, but I can't find the original. Can I download a copy?
    Yes; open the Merge Document Template and navigate to the Summary view. Select the file name in the Template File field; the template will be downloaded to the device.