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In Word 2010: Mail Merge in Depth, author Gini Courter demonstrates how to take advantage of Word's Mail Merge feature to save a tremendous amount of time creating customized documents. The course offers tutorials on creating letters, emails, envelopes, and labels. It also shows how to use Mail Merge with Outlook and Excel, creating data sources, inserting fields, using IF and other rules for customized merges, and troubleshooting Mail Merge issues. Exercise files are included with the course.
Most organizations have letters that are sent out periodically, with very little change from one letter to the next. For example, you might send out a monthly meeting reminder, where the only changes are the dates, the locations, and the roles of the various people attending the meeting. Words Fill-in fields allow you to enter information and merge letters at the time of the merge, eliminating the need to create a different letter reach month. Here's another version of our simple letter, inviting team members to our monthly meeting.
The meeting moves between locations and changes dates, and people's roles change. So we'll be using Fill-in and Ask in the next three videos to see how to address these different needs for this particular merge letter. The date that the letter is sent is different each month, and the same for each user. The date of the meeting is different each month, and the same for each user. So we're going to use Fill- in as a global replacement. Let's begin by selecting the state, and deleting it, and now on the Mailings tab, in Write and Insert Fields, we'll choose Rules > Fill-in.
The Insert Word Field: Fill-in dialog box opens, and we can enter a Prompt. Now, we could enter next to nothing here if we were the only people using this merge letter, but we want to create this in a way that other people could use it as well. So, I'm going to enter, "Fill in the mailing date for this meeting reminder." If there was a default date, like if we only had the meeting twice a year, and we could put August 24, but we don't. We use it all the time. So there's no point in a default fill-in date.
And I'm going to say ask once, because it's the same for everyone, and I'll click OK. As soon as I do, I'll be prompted the first time. There's the prompt that I entered, and the meeting date is August 24, 2010, and I am going to click OK. If I press Enter here, by the way, there'll be an extra Enter in my letter, so I want to be careful not to do that. Now I want to replace the text for the meeting date. So I'm going to select this magenta text that I highlighted earlier and delete it.
I'll need to put a space, and then we're going to use Rules > Fill-in and say Enter the meeting date. There is no generic meeting date to use as a default, and I only want to be asked once because it's the same in every letter. Now I am going to click OK, and it says, Enter the meeting date, and I'm going to say September 22, 2010. I don't need to put a period here. It's already out here in the letter, and I'm going to click OK. That looks good. Now, I could save this letter now, if I wish, and then I can do Finish and Merge.
So, let's just go ahead and run the merge first, to make sure that we're comfortable with everything we have and how it's working. I'm going to choose Finish & Merge > Edit Individual Documents so that it merges to another document we can look at. I am going to merge all of the records and click OK, and it says, What's the meeting date for this meeting reminder? It holds the last date that I entered, so I don't even need to enter a new date this time. I'll click OK. It says Enter the actual meeting date, and again, it holds the value that I entered a moment ago.
Notice that in each letter, August 24, September 22, all the way through, each letter uses of the variable dates that we entered. Look's good to me. Let's go ahead and throw this letter away. There are couple of little things I'd like to take care of. I actually don't need to have this formatting here any more. So we can remove it. The formatting that we have on the fields can go as well, but we're going to save that until the entire letter is done. So by using Fill-in, I can actually insert one date in every single letter that's exactly the same and therefore create a generic letter that I can use over and over and over again, if all that changes are the dates.
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