Form letters can simplify the communication of a central message to a large group, but their obvious lack of personalization can undermine their effect. Microsoft Word’s mail merge features turn boilerplate form letters into documents that read like individual correspondence. Compared to the process of preparing individual letters to convey a set of information to many people, direct mail saves time and effort, producing mass mailings complete with labels or envelopes.
Simplified Mass Communications
When you become responsible for sending a written or emailed message to each member of a group, you can create a template file and edit it manually to add names, addresses, and other individualized details . However, the amount of time and effort required to create each letter one at a time can be daunting, especially for a long list that you communicate with frequently. Rather than resorting to printing contact information and salutations on a photocopied form letter, use Microsoft Word’s mail merge capabilities to simplify the process of sending a unified message with personalized details.
Typography, formatting and graphics
The file you create to serve as the main mail merge document can take full advantage of all the formatting features you regularly use in Microsoft Word. You don’t have to learn a new application to create the structured compound file that forms the basis of your project. Add tables, typographic styles, color elements, charts and other exhibits created in Word or dynamically linked from other Microsoft Office applications. Any style or visual element that you embed directly into the main document appears in each custom iteration of the merged result.
Coordination within Microsoft Office
Once you’ve created the base letter, you add merge fields that identify where each custom piece of information will appear. The names of these merge fields correspond to the field names in a list document that you create in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, or through a form integrated into the mail merge process in Word. If you break down your source data into its smallest meaningful units of information, you increase the flexibility of your input material. For example, instead of setting up a field that contains full names, break the name down into its components: courtesy title and first name, middle name, and last name. This deconstruction allows you to combine the courtesy title and last name in a letter’s salutation, address the recipient by their first name in your last paragraph, and use the last name to incorporate a mention of family. of the individual elsewhere in your text.
In addition to personalizing each version of your document for its recipient, you can increase the personalization potential of the project with conditional options that change how Mail Merge treats your data, based on other conditions you specify. Configure a field that triggers the merge process to skip a record if its dataset contains a numeric value below a specific threshold. A field that uses an “if” expression evaluates two values and modifies the merging process based on their comparison, changing part of the message depending on whether a member of a donor list contributed more or less than an amount specific. Some types of fields allow the addition on the fly of a response that replaces a generic message with a specific message. These conditional options increase the flexibility of the merge process.