Creating and Mailing a "Family Newsletter"
A number of readers have been asking for pointers on creating and mailing a Family Newsletter. I've been doing this for years with MSWord, and design the letter so that the mailing address shows through the opening of a standard #10 window-envelope. This precludes the embarrassment of accidentally placing a letter meant for the Smiths into an envelope addressed to the Browns.
Sending the same message to multiple recipients normally comes under Mail Merge, whereupon names and addresses are collected from a database and inserted into a form letter to give the appearance of everything having been typed all at once. All word processing programs have merging tools, which are found under Tools>MailMerge, along with detailed instructions available under Help. (You can also access Help by pressing your F1 key.)
I prefer a homemade procedure, however, which works well with a Holiday Mailing List of, say, a few dozen friends and family. I start by typing the names and addresses just as they would appear on an envelope, with the Recipient Name on the top line and the Street Address on the second line, along with City, State, and Zip Code on the third line.
After typing a name and address, I press Enter twice before typing the next recipient's data. Here's an example of two entries:
Bob & Alice Watson
1234 Evergreen Lane
Fallbrook, CA 92028
The Layton Family
2020 Alden St.
Anaheim, CA 92801
These entries will later be copied and pasted into the Holiday Newsletter one at a time, and will be aligned to show through a window-envelope's opening.
This informal layout permits flexibility in how one enters the data. For instance, the top line could read "Bob & Mary Smith & Family" or "Bob, Mary, Jen & Billy Smith" or "The Smith Family" or, simply, "The Smiths."
As for the letter itself, you need to begin it low enough on the page for the name and address to show through the window. The best way to determine this is to experiment — print the top half of a few trial letters to find the exact settings needed.
Photos and/or clipart can be interspersed throughout the text by using Insert>Picture>From File, and browsing to the graphic of your choice. This will insert the image with its upper left corner at the location of your cursor. However, these steps will not allow you to move the picture around the page.
You can make the picture moveable by first going to Insert>Text Box. Depending on your version of MSWord, this command will either display a rectangle with a flashing cursor inside, or it will turn your cursor into a tiny cross with which you can draw a rectangle of the approximate size and shape of the picture.
Now click inside the box and go to Insert>Picture>From File. Browse to the wanted image and double-click it. When the image is inside the Text Box you can grab any edge of the box and slide it around the page to wherever you want. The picture will move with it.
If you double-click any edge of the Text Box, a set of options will appear which allow you to change the box in various ways. For instance, you can make the box outline invisible by going to Format>Text Box>Colors & Lines>Line>Color>No Line.
You can also use the Layout options to cause text to flow around the picture or to go behind it or in front of it.
If you double-click a picture, a set of options will appear which allow you to format the image in various ways. It pays to experiment with these commands.
Add Names and Addresses to the Newsletters
As for combining the names and addresses with the actual letter, you can do it with one pass through the printer, or with two passes. (The latter means first printing the body of the letter, and then printing the names and addresses in a second pass).
To accomplish everything in a single pass, do the following: Open your newsletter document so that the space for the name and address is accessible. Then open the page containing all the names and addresses alongside of the main document. If necessary, reshape these documents by grabbing their corners or edges as needed to get them aligned side by side.
Now it becomes simply a matter of selecting and copying (with Ctrl+C) a name and address, followed by pasting it (with Ctrl+V) into the newsletter. Now go to File>Save As, and rename the newsletter with something that corresponds to the recipient's name (such as NewsletterToLayton.doc).
Repeat this procedure until you have one newsletter complete with a name and address for each recipient.
Alternatively, you could print all the newsletters with the name and address space left blank. Then you can come back and print the names and addresses with a second pass.
Obviously, 2-pass printing would be very inefficient if there were thousands of newsletters to be done. But for doing just a few, I find doing it with two passes just about as practical as using one pass.
An additional option is to type an opening greeting just below each name/address entry, as it might best suit any particular recipients. For instance, a greeting could read, "Hi there, Smith family," or "Ho, ho, ho to the Hoboken Clan."
MSOffice users can also do original artwork on a page by clicking View>Toolbars>Drawing and choosing from a variety of design tools, complete with many pre-drawn objects. Choosing View>Toolbars>Wordart lets you turn simple text phrases into stylish, colorful designs.
© - Donald Ray Edrington 1998 - 2006 - All Rights Reserved
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