I've been pointing folks to the instructions in this blog, but I wanted to pare things down so that I have one blog entry, just one, that shows only how to make your spreadsheet into something you can use in mail merge letters, label mail merges, envelope mail merges, etc.
Overview of How Mail Merges Work in OpenOffice
First: To print labels from a list of addresses, you should put them in a spreadsheet. (You don't have to since text files, address books, and regular databases are fine for holding your data for mail merges, too. But spreadsheets are a simple approach.) Put headings across the top like Firstname, Lastname, etc.
Then: To make your spreadsheet into something that your mail merge document (labels, Christmas letter, etc.) can talk to, you need to make a little database file that points to your spreadsheet.
Finally: You make your mail merge document (labels, Christmas letter, etc.) and have it point to your database.
That's the summary. Here are the specifics.
Instructions for the First Step, Putting Together Your Data in a Spreadsheet
Here's what your data should look like. The columns you use are up to you. Put in whatever data you will need. Put City, State, etc. all in different columns. Be sure to put the label at the top for what the field is: Name, etc. This is important.
Here's a sample file. Right-click on the link and choose to save it to your computer.
Instructions for the Next Step, Making Your Spreadsheet Into a Database
You need to make a database file that points to the spreadsheet.
1. Choose File > New > Database.
2. Make the selection shown, with Spreadsheet as the format.
3. Click Next.
4. Specify the spreadsheet file. Each SHEET in that spreadsheet will be a table in your database.
5. Click Next.
6. Umark the option to open the database for editing. You can open it; you just don't have to.
7. Click Next.
8. Save the data source (aka database) under a name that will help you remember what it is. This is the name that you will see in your lists of databases.
You're done with the database.
Instructions for Making Labels or a Letter and Pointing It at a Database
To make labels that point to the database you created, follow these instructions. You've already done the database so
To write a letter that points to the database you created, follow these instructions, steps 3 and 4. You've already done 1 and 2.
To do envelopes that point to the database you created, follow these instructions.
I strongly advise you NOT to use any of the mail merge wizards under the Tools menu. Far too complicated.