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5.3.1 Mail merging


Revision Points:

  • Candidates are expected to describe the steps necessary when mail merging;
  • Candidates are expected to describe the advantages and disadvantages of the use of mail merge.

The steps involved in mail merging:

  1. Some form of database is created, either using database software or a spreadsheet.
  2. Data is entered into the fields of the database so that a number of records are created.
  3. If required, queries are created to select data that meets certain criteria, such as overdue bills.
  4. A word processor is used to create a template.
  5. The word processor file is linked to the database file, this allows the field names to be inserted into the word processor file.
  6. Finally, the data from the database is merged with the word processor template and either saved or printed directly.

A typical word processor template:

<<address1>> <<address2>>
<<address3>>

<<postcode>>
 

Dear <<title>> <<surname>>,

We regret to inform you that your account balance of <<ac_ballance>> is now over your overdraft limit of <<od_limit>> and a 20 penalty charge has been made.

It is important that funds are paid into your account to maintain your account within your overdraft limit.  Failure to do this before the end of the month or further charged will be incurred.

If there are likely to be any difficulties making a payment then please contact your account manager, <<ac_manager>>.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Stephen Hall - Financial manager

A typical database file to merge with the above letter:

surname title address1 address2 address3 postcode ac_ballance od_limit ac_manager
Smith Mrs 17 Rodman Street Bristol BS3 6FG -2245.78 1000 Mr Rodgers
Harris Mrs The Ashes Burleigh Court Bristol BS4 7YG -1478.34 5000 Mr Rodgers
Patel Mr 231 Spinnaker Road Bath BA45 8GH -23.52 500 Mrs Edwards
Johnson Mrs 2 Kingswell Avenue Bristol BS7 9HJ -17.89 1000 Mr Rodgers

This data could be stored in a database table or a spreadsheet.  The fieldnames in the database must exactly match the fieldnames in the word processor template of the mail merge would fail.

A example of a merged document using the database and template above:

17 Rodman Street
Bristol

BS3 6FG
 

Dear Mrs Smith,

We regret to inform you that your account balance of -2245.78 is now over your overdraft limit of 1000 and a 20 penalty charge has been made.

It is important that funds are paid into your account to maintain your account within your overdraft limit.  Failure to do this before the end of the month or further charged will be incurred.

If there are likely to be any difficulties making a payment then please contact your account manager, Mr Rodgers.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Stephen Hall - Financial manager

The advantages of mail merging:

  • Before mail merging was developed if a company wanted to send lots of similar letters they would have to enter the personal details into each letter one at a time.
  • Mail merging allows the automation of personalised standard letters, mail flyers and bills with minimal effort and time.  Mail merging is also used to address the envelopes, further speeding up the process.

The disadvantages of mail merging:

  • Mail merging can have complications, for example moving the data file, renaming fields etc. can cause the merge to fail as the word processor program cannot find the data sources it needs.
  • Mail merging makes it very easy to create vast amounts of junk mail.
  • Mail merged letters can lack a personal touch because the only individual part in a mail merged document is the data merged from the database.

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