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In the previous two videos, we've used Microsoft Word's Ask and Fill-in fields to collect information from the user at runtime to insert into the letter about the location of our meeting, the date of the letter, and the date of the meeting. We are left with one piece of information that we need to provide at runtime, but it's different for each and every recipient. That's the role of that recipient we will play in the meeting, highlighted here in teal. For our team, we have three basic roles. We have the role of the convener, we have the role of the recorder, and we have a role for a timekeeper. Everyone else is an observer.
So, what we'd like to do is, at the time we do the merge, be prompted to determine the role for each of our team members at this specific meeting. We're going to use a variation of the Fill-in field to be able to do this. So, let's start by deleting this information here for the observer, and now we'll use Rules > Fill-in and say, "Enter the meeting role." Now, the Default role is observer, so we could simply enter that here.
We're not going to click the Ask once check box. We are simply going to leave it, because we want to be asked for every single recipient, and we are going to click OK. We will, of course, be prompted, right away, and enter observer, and that information will be entered here, and we can see that we need to enter a space. Now, don't forget, you can use Alt+F9 to see the field codes that are already here, and Alt+F9 to hide them again. Let's go ahead and see how our merge works, and I will tell you ahead of time that this will be an unsatisfactory experience, because as we merge through and say that we want to merge all the records, we'll be prompted for a location, and we'll put Tahiti and say OK and then the mailing date for the reminder and the meeting date itself, then it says, Enter the meeting role, and we say, hmm, for who? We will be prompted over and over again to enter the meeting role.
It doesn't matter whether we say OK or Cancel; we'll be prompted. I'm just thankful that we didn't have 500 records, or we'd be clicking OK 500 times right now. So, how do I get information about what letter I'm on? Well, let's close this merge results and not save it and return to our primary merge file we are building, and let's go back and take a look at the field code for observer here. We are going to hold Alt and hit F9, and it says, Enter the meeting role. We want to add the merge field that gives us the person's first name, and it is absolutely critical that it go inside the prompt.
The prompt starts after the word "FILLIN" and after the quotes and ends with the other set of quotes. So, I'm going to say Enter the meeting role, space, for, and then I am going to insert the merge field to pick up that person's name. First, space, and even the Last name. So, now my prompt in quotes is Enter the meeting role for First, Last. This /d is the default, and it will put the observer in, and then this MERGEFIELD first comes from our original merge that's dropping the recipient's first name right here.
So, it says, Thank you for agreeing to serve as your role for the meeting ,first name. I think we are all set. We've built this out, so that we can actually see where we are. Let's go to Finish & Merge > Edit Individual Letters, and let's go ahead and just do the first three letters so we can see what they look like. It says, where is the location for the meeting? Tahiti, OK. The mailing date for the reminder the 26th of August. Well, we might get it done a day early. Let's go ahead and mail it, if we could, on the 25th, and say OK.
The meeting date hasn't changed from September 22, and now it says Enter the meeting role for Pam Shepherd. Well, Pam has agreed to be our Timekeeper, and we'll say OK. Then Enter the meeting role for Tyrone Woods. Well Tyrone is the Convener for this meeting, OK. Keisha is an Observer, and we'll say OK. So, you notice for each person, we are getting prompted. There we have Pam the Timekeeper, Tyrone the Convener for the meeting, and Keisha who's going to be an Observer.
So, by using the Ask field, or the Fill- in fields, but also including the merge fields in the prompts, we can be prompted, as we go through the merge, to provide very specific, individualized information for each and every recipient. I am going to go ahead and close these merge results and not save them, return to the Mailings tab, and let you have one more look at where we inserted the name inside of the quotes as part of the prompt for the Fill-in fields. Remember, Alt+F9 exposes all of these field codes for you to be able to go in and look, and also to edit them.
By using Ask and asking with every letter, we can enter variable information on the fly, rather than needing to build it into our data source.
- Choosing or creating a data source
- Using Mail Merge with Outlook contacts
- Merging data from an Excel spreadsheet
- Inserting address blocks and greetings
- Matching fields from a data source
- Previewing merge results
- Using rules for customized merges