Thank you for your post.
I am unable to replicate the issue. Here is what I have done.
1. I created a table named (aptly) "Committees" with two fields: "Last Name" and "First Name"
2. I entered one record with the contents "TSGal" for both Last Name and First Name.
3. I removed the fields from the layout, and only put the merge contents: <<Last name>>
4. In Browse Mode, "TSGal" appears.
Let me know what I'm doing differently than you. Also, try creating a new layout (do not duplicate) and place a Merge field on the new layout. Does this work?
Try creating a small new layout in a brand new file and put some merge fields on it. Do they display as you expect?
Try creating anew simple layout in your current file and put some merge fields on it. Does that work?
You may find that your file or just a layout is damaged. A damaged layout can be replaced. A damaged file can be recovered, but in both cases, it's better to replace with an undamaged back up if you have one.
Things to keep in mind about Recover:
While Recover almost always detects and fully corrects any problems with your file...
- The recovered copy may behave differently even if recover reports "no problems found".
- Recover does not detect all problems
- Recover doesn't always fix all problems correctly
- Best Practice is to never put a recovered copy back into regular use or development. Instead, replace the damaged file with an undamaged back up copy if this is at all possible. You may have to save a clone of the back up copy and import all data from your recovered copy to get a working copy with the most up to date information possible.
And here's a knowledgebase article that you may find useful: What to do when your file is corrupt (KB5421).
I am doing everything exactly the same as you, which leads me to believe that the file is corrupted, as PhilModJunk suggested. I have tried a new layout to see if the layout is corrupted, but it still happens.
What causes a file to become corrupted? I have a client whose database was also corrupted earlier this year.
Corruption can occur many different ways. Corruption can occur in data, with graphics, with objects (fields, rectangles, other layout objects), etc. The causes can include low memory, memory conflicts when writing to disk, bad sectors on disk, etc.
Make a copy of your last backup, and see if you are able to reproduce the issue. If so, then open a previous backup and try again. If one of the backups work as expected, then find the new data in the corrupt file, then select the backup file and import from the corrupt file so that all the data is up-to-date.
And putting a file in a shared directory so that multiple users try to open the file directly instead of Open Remote can also damage a file.