Summer’s here! The birds are chirping. The butterflies flutter by. All this just screams, “COMPANY PICNIC SEASON“! So let’s make some plans and get those invites out! Microsoft Word is a great way to make pretty invitations. But what is the easiest way to distribute them? You could attach your invitation to an e-mail, but then you would have to go through and select all of the recipients. You also have to consider the fact that putting all the recipients names in the “To:” field lets everyone who gets the e-mail see the e-mail addresses of all the other recipients. This is a real problem if you want to protect the identity of certain people. You could resolve this by placing all the recipients in the “BCC:” field, however, then you have to put something in the “To:” field or it just looks weird when the recipient gets it. Confused yet? This whole process can be simplified using the “Merge to Email” feature in Word.
Let’s begin by creating a custom contact folder Microsoft Outlook. In Outlook, right click your mailbox folder and choose “New Folder” from the menu. You will see the following window pictured below. Give your folder a name and make sure that the “Folder contains:” field has “Contact Items” selected. This will assure that we have a contact folder.
Next, add some contacts to your new contact folder. Pictured below, you will see the contact window with a couple of contacts shown.
Once you have all of your contacts entered in you new contact folder, you are ready to proceed to your invitation. Open Microsoft Word and type up your invitation. When you have it all typed up the way you want it, click the “Mailings” tab on the ribbon toolbar. See the picture below.
On the “Mailings” tab, you will see a button that says “Select Recipients”. When you click this button you will see a drop down menu where you can choose the source of your recipients. In this tutorial you will choose “Select from Outlook Contacts” from the menu shown in the picture below.
You will now see the window, pictured below, asking you to select the Outlook contacts folder. Choose the appropriate folder and click OK. Choosing the contacts folder will set that folder as the source for the merge in Word.
You now have the opportunity to pick and choose which contacts from that folder you want to receive the invitation. Note that all contacts in the folder are selected by default. In the picture below, you will see little check boxes beside each contact name. Simply click the check box to select or deselect the contacts you wish to send to. When you are finished, click OK.
Now the magic really starts to happen. Let’s personalize the invitation to show the recipients first and last names at the top. To do this, make sure your cursor is at the top of the page, then, from the “Mailings” tab choose “Insert Merge Field”. This will give you a drop down menu with all of the fields in the contact folder you chose. See the picture below.
Now, choose the “First” field. Notice you get a little merge field at the top of your document with the word “<<First>>” listed, as pictured below. What this means is when you finish the merge, and your contact receives the e-mail, they will see their first name in this spot on the document. Go ahead and hit the space bar, and insert the “Last” merge field too, so that the recipients last name will appear there as well.
Double click the “First” field to see formatting options, as pictured above. Here you can change the font style and size. Go ahead and set the font to look the way you would like for the recipient to see it.
The last step in the process is to click the “Finish & Merge” button on the “Mailings” tab. You will see the drop down menu pictured below. Click the “Send E-mail Messages” option to start the merge. Now all of the recipients you picked from the contacts folder will receive an email with the invitation in the body of the message. WARNING! Once you click “Send E-mail Messages”, the message is immediately sent! There will be no dialog boxes asking you to click OK or anything. So don’t click this button until you are ready for it to go.
You can verify that the mailing went out by checking your “Sent Items” in Outlook. You will notice that every contact received a single message. This means there is no more worry about hiding people’s email in the “BCC:” field. Problem solved!
Hopefully you will find this feature useful for your next big mailing. Oh, by the way, don’t forget to save me a little dessert at the picnic! ;)