Direct mail is a feature that most office suites offer that allows you to personalize a basic document before sending it to many recipients. It is possible to carry out a direct mail for a large number of different documents including envelopes, labels, form letters, emails, faxes or even numbered coupons and discount coupons.
Part 1 of 3: Prepare
Step 1. Build your data file
It can also be a spreadsheet (Excel type), a database or a text document with the correct formatting. In most cases, companies or individuals use spreadsheets, so it is this option that we will use as an example in the rest of this article.
- Your data file should contain all of the information that you plan to vary between two copies. For example, if you decide to send a personalized form letter, your data file should contain at least the names and addresses of the people to whom you want to send the letter.
On a single row, place each piece of information in a cell of your spreadsheet. Thus, at the end of the construction of your data file, each category of information (name, first name, address…) should have its own column
- Choose relevant headings for each of your columns. Mail merge links data column by column. Thus, whatever software is used, it will think that the first row of each column corresponds to the type of information present in the rest of the column. We therefore advise you to use names that seem relevant to you so that you can easily find your way around.
For example, if your column is used to store last names, the header could be "Name" and below the header you could enter the last names of the people concerned. So, during the next step of the mail merge, when the software asks you which field you want to insert in your type letter, you will see “Name” written and you will remember what it is
- People with the Microsoft Office suite and using Microsoft Outlook to write their emails also have the option of using their address book as a data file.
Step 2. Save your data file
Save it somewhere you will easily remember and give it an equivocal name so you can easily find it.
Step 3. Now write your basic document
This is the standard document that you will customize later. For example, if you decide to write a form letter, your basic document will be the letter itself. All the fields you want to personalize with direct mail should be left blank for now.
Part 2 of 3: Perform a mail merge with Microsoft Office
Step 1. Access the mail merge feature
Open your basic document and click on "Mail Merge" then "Start Mail Merge" and finally "Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard". If the functionality is not apparent, click “Tools”> “Letters and Mailings”> “Mail Merge”.
Step 2. Answer the Microsoft Office questions
Word's mail merge tool has a few steps you need to take to make your life easier and to achieve a data merge between your base document and your data file that is smarter and more in line with your needs.
- Start by indicating the document type of your base document. Click on the type closest to that of your document then click on "Next: Basic document".
- Indicate the base document you want to use. If you've followed our explanations so far, you should be able to check the "Use current document" box. Click on "Next: Select recipients".
Step 3. Select what Word calls “an existing list”
This is actually the data file you created earlier. Check the appropriate box then click on "Next" in order to be able to browse your computer to find your data file and link it to your base document.
If you want to use your Outlook address book instead, this is also possible, you just need to check the corresponding box
Step 4. Choose the data to use
Office allows you to select or deselect entire columns of information as you see fit. This allows you to choose which fields you want to fill in your base document and thus makes your data file more versatile, as you will be able to use different information during different mailings. Once everything looks correct, click "Next".
The data can be sorted by clicking on the header of each column. This allows you, for example, to quickly browse and find specific information if your data file is large
Step 5. Insert fields in the base document
On this new page of the mail merge wizard, you will be asked to write your basic document (if you haven't already done so) and you will also be offered a wide choice of options to insert data fields from your data file to your base document.
- To insert a field in your basic document, place the cursor where you want to place the field then click on the appropriate button in the wizard to insert your field.
It is possible to delete a misplaced or twice placed field by pressing the Delete key on your keyboard, as if you were trying to delete a single extra letter in Word
- The preconfigured options vary slightly depending on the type of document you have specified to Word. Office does its best to provide the right types of data based on the data file you have selected. For example, if you have told Word that you are writing a form letter, you might see an option that lets you insert an address block that includes the recipient's first and last name as well as their full address, all of this. best arranged on just a few lines.
- Some preconfigured options will automatically open secondary windows to let you fill in the required information. But don't worry, it's still explained in a fairly clear and easy-to-understand way.
- If you are using one of these preconfigured options and Word does not seem able to find the correct information in your data file, this is not a problem: click on "Match fields" and tell the program what each field is doing. corresponds. For example, you can show Word that it should use the "Name" column in your data file to populate the "Last Name" field in the address block of your base document.
- To use your own fields, click on "Additional options". You will then be able to see the headers of your columns and can then use those names instead.
Step 6. Check your letters
When using direct mail, be aware that custom fields will only contain the exact data (the data you imported from your data file) at the time of printing. However, Office allows you to preview your document in order to verify that the information is correctly placed as you had decided by placing your various fields. Feel free to preview your document several times until everything is exactly the way you want it to be.
Step 7. Complete the merger of your two documents
The final step of the Step-by-Step Mail Merge Wizard tells you that everything is in place and the software is ready to start printing your documents. It will then print as many copies as necessary, varying the fields you indicated in the base document between each of them.
It is possible to make individual modifications to the letters of your choice by clicking on the "Modify individual letters" button before starting to print the documents
Part 3 of 3: Make a mail merge with OpenOffice
Step 1. Create a database
With OpenOffice.org, a mail merge still requires a database, however, you can still still put your data into a spreadsheet (like Excel or Calc) first.
- In your base document open the File menu and select the option to create a new database.
- In the dialog box which has just opened, check the box "Connect to an existing database". From the drop-down menu, select "Worksheet" then click "Next".
- On the next page, tell OpenOffice.org the path to access the spreadsheet you want to use. You can also choose to set or not a password on the database by checking the box under the path of the data file. Click on "Next".
- In this window, choose whether or not you want to save the database on your computer (for easier access later) and choose whether or not you want to open the database in order to be able to make changes. is probably not necessary if you have just created your spreadsheet). Click "Finish" to save the database.
Give your database an easy-to-remember name so you don't waste long minutes searching for it later
Step 2. Enter your fields
Now that your basic document is linked to an easily understandable database for OpenOffice.org all you have to do is merge the data of your choice to carry out your direct mail.
- Click on the “Insert” menu then “Fields” and finally “Others…” in the submenu. You can also access it using the keyboard shortcut “Ctrl + F2”.
- In the dialog box, click on the "database" tab.
- Click on the "Browse" button at the bottom right of the dialog box and locate the database you just created.
Once your database has been selected, it will appear in the list called “Selected databases” on the right of the window
- In the list named "Type" on the left of the window, select "Mail Merge Fields".
- Click the "+" button next to your database: a spreadsheet should then appear below. Then click on the "+" next to "That" and you will see the fields you chose when creating your spreadsheet.
- Select any of the fields you want to insert and click "Insert" to place it in your base document.
- Remember to place your cursor where you want to insert your field. If you forgot it, that's no problem: just cut the field and paste it in the right place.
- As with Office, fields are treated as simple alphanumeric characters when they are in your base document. You can therefore move them with the space bar or delete them with the delete key on your keyboard.
Step 3. Complete the merge
Check that all the fields are in their correct place. Once this check has been made, start printing. As many copies as necessary will then be printed, varying between each of them the fields you indicated in the base document.
- Word usually has a set of ready-made templates that you can use for creating your basic documents.
- Make sure you break down each field into the most basic fields possible. For example, let's say you want to insert both the recipient's title (Mr., Mrs., Miss), their first name and last name. This corresponds to three different fields, so you must use three different columns when creating your data file.