To think that, once upon a time, letters were written with a quill and ink on parchment, often by the flickering light of a candle! 🕯 📜 Romantic… but cumbersome! It's a digital era now, and as you'll see, creating templates with merge fields to generate personalised documents using Microsoft Word is faster, easier and smarter than anything you were doing before! ⚡️ Read below to see for yourself and get down to business!
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How do I insert a merge field in Word?
As mentioned in the previous article, letter templates are composed in Microsoft Word, as only .docx files are accepted. So, having read about FULL FABRIC's field references, you now have to know how to create a merge field in Word. The process will vary slightly depending on which version of MS Word you're using, but it will be more or less a variation of the following steps:
1) In the document, place the cursor where you want the merge field to appear
2) Click Insert on the menu bar
3) Click the button Insert a field
4) Under Categories, select Mail Merge, and under Field names, pick MergeField
5) In the text box below, paste the field reference after MERGEFIELD, keeping one space in between
6) Press OK to save the settings and close the dialog
The merge field will then be added to your template, like so:
If your version of MS Word is different, read this article from the Office Support Team.
Please note that merely replicating a field reference does not work, for it must be adequately configured. On that note, to distinguish a merge field from an unformatted field reference that was written or pasted into the document, tap the code: if the background turns grey, it's a merge field.
Letter templates in FULL FABRIC support tables, images and graphs, and merge fields can be placed inside tables. 🌅
TIP: Remember to regularly update any dates which aren’t merge fields (i.e., fixed dates that you wrote down, such as an offer letter saying “You have until XX-XX-XXXX to pay this” or containing other internal dates that don't exist in FULL FABRIC). 📌
Where can I find the letters overview and what can I do in it?
The letters overview is where all of your school's letter templates are housed. 🏠 To access it:
1) Click the gear in the top-right corner and then General settings
2) Open the Documents tab
You'll be automatically directed to the tab Letter Templates – in other words, the letters overview:
To upload a new .docx file to the library as a letter template, click Create a new template on the top-right corner. To test a template, press the DOC or PDF buttons; this will generate a letter addressed to your own staff user in whichever format you chose. To edit a template, click the gear. And to delete it, click X. Deleting a template has no impact on previously generated letters stored in the profile Letters tab.
How do I upload my document into the portal as a letter and edit it?
To create a brand new letter template:
1) Head over to the letters overview and click Create a new template
2) Title the template under DESCRIPTION
3) Press Choose file to upload the .docx file
4) When all is said and done, press Create template
When it comes to editing a letter template in the system, three things can be done: change its name, replace the .docx file and build or modify the Ask schema. Creating a new template as instructed above will automatically take you to the corresponding editor, but you can also access it through the letters overview by clicking the gear icon at the end of the respective row.
This is the letter editor:
Description is the name of the template that's displayed in the letters overview. As for Template, this field serves a two-fold function: tapping the name of the current file will download the template to your computer, while clicking the up-arrow will ask you to upload a new template. On the top-right corner, again you can generate a test letter addressed to your own profile in DOC or PDF format.
Last, but not least, the tab Schema is where you build the Ask schema, which we already covered here.
What’s the best way to test and preview a letter template?
Every time you upload a new .docx template, the next thing you should always do is generate a test letter. 📄 For one, you want to confirm that all of the merge fields are properly working and no mistake was made. And second, as merge fields are populated with data obtained from a profile (for instance, home and work addresses), it may so happen that the pulled information is too lengthy and pushes down the rest of the content, resulting in an extra blank page, mangled tables, bad line breaks and possibly other issues. 🤕 Leaving more room for expansion (such as bigger table cells and extra space between lines), reducing the font size and even widening the margins on the page(s) will fix most problems. 💊
There are two ways to generate a test letter: addressing it to your own staff profile or creating a test candidate profile to whom to address it. Depending on which field references you used, the latter is oftentimes preferable, because candidate profiles can be added to classes and filled with data that staff profiles cannot. Insufficient information leads to blank spaces (not ideal for testing).
To generate a letter addressed to yourself, visit the letters overview and click DOC or PDF (PDF is recommended since that's likely the format you'll be using to generate real letters). Both buttons are also available inside the letter editor, under the tab Details.
To generate a letter for a candidate profile (whether a real or fake one), proceed to the next topic.
How can I generate a letter and where?
There are two ways to generate and send a letter: manually or automatically.
The manual route involves going to someone's profile, generating the letter, downloading it and then attaching it to a one-to-one email, all by hand, which is actually fairly easy:
1) Go to the profile in question and enter the tab Letters
2) Press Create new letter
3) Choose a LETTER TEMPLATE and link it to a specific CLASS and APPLICATION template (so that any related merge fields know where to retrieve the information from)
4) If that particular letter template has Ask fields, input the respective value(s)
5) Press Generate letter to conclude and quit the modal
The letter will be accordingly archived in the Letters tab.
6) Lastly, download the letter, switch to the tab Emails and manually attach it to a one-to-one email
To do this automatically, use the class, offer or application workflows by invoking the Send letter to profile action. 📨
Due to the standardized nature of automated workflows, customisation is relatively limited, meaning that automated workflows are not compatible with Ask fields and you can't link them to specific classes nor application forms; however, any letter not contingent on those details is fine. 👍
The Send letter to profile action requires that you select a LETTER TEMPLATE, an EMAIL TEMPLATE, an EMAIL DISPATCHER (the sender that's gonna be visible to recipients) and an EMAIL SUBJECT.
You also have to pick an EMAIL MODE, i.e., the outcome of the action: Save as draft or Dispatch. The former simply saves the letter in the profile Letters tab, as well as a draft of the email in the profile Emails tab (attachment included) – this is great if you want to review the letter before sending, but also entails having to manually send the letter in the end. Alternatively, the last option immediately dispatches the letter to whoever triggered the workflow, for your convenience. 🙏
You have reached the end of this article. Thanks for reading it! If you have any questions or comments on the topic at hand, or if you enjoy reads like this and have article requests, feel free to start a chat or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please leave a rating below. Your feedback is highly appreciated! 💖
PUBLISHED: June 22, 2020
LAST UPDATED: June 22, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.