Doing Mail Merges using Save As from Reports

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Doing Mail Merges using Save As from Reports

One thing you can do with files saved with Save As from built-in reports or SQL selects is Mail Merge letters, if you have an appropriate word processor such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. A Mail Merge is for instance when you send the same letter to a group of vendors, with their names and addresses filled in to the letter to personalize it.

 

As of October 2012, there are not really any reports in ACCOUNTS that it would make sense to do this with, but there could be some in the future. (Or you could create a report on Vendors using the Database ⇒ SQL Select menu option, to do this with.)

 

When you use the Save As button, for use in mail merges, be sure to select one of the Data Formats that allows for the "Raw Unformatted Data for Exporting" option to be selected - Text, CSV or Excel. If you are using Microsoft Word for the mail merge, Excel is probably the best option.

 

It is beyond the scope of this manual to explain to you how to do mail merges in your Word processor, but we can give some hints for the use of Word and Excel. It is possible to do mail merges with Word Perfect and other programs as well, but we are not sure whether you can get results that format the data as nicely. (For instance, in Word, we know how to make dollar values show up in a nice format with commas at the thousands, like "1,000.00" but in WordPerfect we were not able to figure that out, so they show up as "1000.00".) To fully understand how to do mail merges with your word processor, use its Help or a manual.

 

Please note that the specific instructions for MS Word below were written for Word 97. Newer versions will have different steps to do the same things.

 

To a mail-merge letters, first generate an appropriate report in ACCOUNTS. You may want to further Filter it (see the section on Filtering Reports for details). Next, do the Save As, and if you are using Microsoft Word select the Data Format "Excel", the radio button for "Raw Unformatted Data for Exporting", and the checkbox for "Include Column Headers Row". (If you do not own Excel, use the type "CSV" instead.)

 

For the Save As filename, select an appropriate .xls filename. (Use the appropriate ending, .csv, if you used a different type than Excel.) Then in Word open your mail-merge document. If you do not see a mail merge toolbar come up, you will have to read the Help to see how to connect it to the Excel or CSV file with the data. Once you have your mail merge toolbar, you can scroll through the letters to the various vendors. Make any desired changes to the text of the letter, then click the Print icon on the mail merge toolbar to print all of the letters. (Don't use File ⇒ Print: that just prints the currently displayed letter.) You probably should also do a File ⇒ Save As in Word to save the document with a new name.

 

When you are in a mail merge letter in Word, you can press Alt+F9 to switch back and forth between seeing the actual data from your vendor, and seeing the codes that tell it where to put which data items, such as the name. You can read the Help to learn how formatting of numbers to have commas at the thousands is done.

 

One word of warning about a tricky little bug in Word 97. (At least, we think it is a bug.) If you make changes to the layout of the inserted data fields while looking at the layout after pressing Alt+F9, and then change back to see the vendor data with Alt+F9 again, you may not immediately see your changes. You often have to use the arrow buttons on the mail merge toolbar (which switch you from one vendor to the next) and move to the next or previous vendor before your changes are visible. Also, sometimes you will see the data fields in the letter looking like this: "<<fname>>". If you see that, click the button labelled "<<>>" on the mail merge toolbar to change it back show either the data or the fields (in a format like "{MERGEFIELD name}" on the screen.

 

It is also possible to do mail merges by retrieving data directly from the SQL database. That is considerably more complicated, and will be touched on later in this document in the section on Technical Information.