Form Letters Using Word & Mail Merge
As you probably know, flowerSoft lets you type your own form letters through its database. However, a database is not a word processor and when compared to something like Word, does a pretty poor job of formatting a letter.
A database however, does a great job of locating and selecting records that can then be used to generate the form letters.
In the past, I’ve tried to provide several form letters and let you pick which one you want to use. However, everyone has their own opinion of what the letters should look like and I’ve been making changes to the letters on an individual basis.
I have decided that it is much better for all involved, to let you use Word to write your own form letters and teach you how to use the data extracted from flowerSoft to generate the letters. It is not that difficult.
The examples shown here were created with Word 2007. Other versions of Word should be very similar.
I am also assuming that you will be using your own letterheads for this process. If you are printing on plain paper, you will need to add your name and address to the top of the letter.
Here is how to do it…
Open Microsoft Word (yes, it is required) and create your form letter.
The first thing you need to do when you open your blank document is to use the line spacing option and select to remove the space after a Paragraph. See below…
The reason we need to do this is that Word’s mail merge inserts a space after each line of the address block and it just does not look good.
Now type your letter. Just the body of the letter, do not enter a customer’s address or a salutation. It should look something like this…
After you have composed your letter, save it giving it a name that you will remember later. For example, we could call this one “New Recipient Letter”
- Now we will need to extract the recipient data in flowerSoft to use with the form letter. Here is how we do that:
Go to the Manager’s menu and select the Marketing option. From there, select the Import/Export option.
From there select the Export Recipients to a CSV file option
Since this is a letter to be sent to new recipients, we are going to select option #4 of the menu.
You could also use option #5 if you want but that option will select recipients you’ve delivered to before and might have gotten the letter already.
Next, answer all the questions flowerSoft will ask…
So not we have our data source for the form letters. Please remember the name and location of the file, you will need it later.
I suggest saving all the data files to the \FSROOT\EXPORT folder, that way you will always know where to find them later.
Now let’s open up the form letter you created before and see what we have to do now.
Notice the Mailings tab. Click on it.
Click on the Select Recipients option and then click on the Use Existing List option.
Navigate to the location where you stored the recipients list. This would be \FSROOT\EXPORT\ unless you used something different, and find your file.
Once you select the file, Word will pop up the window below asking to verify the data layout.
Just click on OK. Do not select any other options.
After you click on OK, Word will display the document again…
Now is time to insert the data we want to extract from our recipient file.
The first thing we want to do, assuming you are using a single window envelope, is place the recipient’s address on the letter.
We do this by selecting the “Address Block” from the Mailings tab.
You can experiment with the location but I’ve found that entering the data starting 5 or 6 lines from the top of the letter works well.
Never print all your letters without first checking to see that the customer’s address shows through the envelope’s window.
Print just one letter to verify correctness of the address block position.
When you click on Address Block, Word will again display this window…
And you should just click on OK again.
Next, Word will show you how it will format the Address Block. Because of the way flowerSoft names the recipient’s name field, Word will not select it as part of the address block.
All you have to do to fix this is click on the Match Fields button.
Click on the down arrowhead for the “First Name field…
And select Recipient Name from the list of fields.
Do not try to match the “Last Name” or any of the other fields marked (not matched). Just click OK.
Word will now display the correct address block.
Click on OK and Word will insert the address block on the letter.
Now let’s insert the Greeting Line. Click on the Greeting Line option of the Mailings tab.
Word will respond with this…
As you can see, Word has the correct data for the greeting line, so all we have to do is click OK.
And Word will insert the greeting line tag on the letter.
The last action to take is to tell Word to create the merge…
We do that by clicking on the Finish & Merge option.
We should select the “Edit Individual Documents” option unless you are absolutely sure everything is correct.
Word will then ask if you want to merge all the records or just the current one. Select all the records…
Word will then display all the merged records on the screen.
You can review all the letters and make corrections as necessary and then print them.
That is all there is to it. It takes a lot longer to explain the process than to actually do it.
This method of doing form letters allows you a lot more flexibility.
Since Word is doing the printing, you can select any font you like and you can print to any printer, even host-based printers.
If you have any questions, please let me know.