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xRoss Miles

Concise Guide Series

AutoCorrect & Mail Merge in MS Word 97

If you use MS Word every day in an office environment or at home you're probably constantly looking for ways to speed up your work. Some things, such as typing in a large company name over and over again, can be very annoying, as can writing a letter to many different clients and typing in the address repeatedly. This guide will teach you about two of the best ways to save time in Word 97.

Do you often type a long word or phrase that you wish you could abbreviate? Well, in the example below I'm going to show you how you can type "MCr" but your computer will write "Microsoft Corporation - all rights reserved". Using a feature in Word called AutoCorrect you can do this. This is also useful for correcting small typing mistakes whilst you write.

First of all start MS Word and enter the 'Tools' menu. Now select the 'AutoCorrect' button. In the AutoCorrect frame in the left box select what abbreviation you wish to use and in the right box the text that you want the abbreviation to be replaced by. Select the add button, close the window, and then give it a try. It is worth noting that if you copy a graphic or design and paste it into the box on the right (making sure to select the 'Formatted Text' ratio button) then you can replace an abbreviation with a picture or similar.

Mail Merge:

If you have a letter or certificate that you need to distribute to a large number of people but you still want to keep the personal touch by using their name, address and other details on the document then why not use mail merge?

The basis of mail merge is very simple. First, you create a database of many different fields such as Name, Title, Address and so on. You then fill in the database with the details of the people you want to send the document to. The best thing is that this database is reusable so it is excellent for small companies who often write to a list of clients. You then create the document and whenever you get to a place where you want the document to be personalised you can add in one of the above mentioned fields such as Name or Title. When you've finished the document you then merge the database with the document.

What's more, Word makes all of this very simple to do. Below is a list of instructions on how to create a basic mail-merge document. For more information try searching for help in Word under the topic 'Mail Merge'.

To create a form letter first load a copy of Microsoft Word. Follow the menu path 'Tools > Mail Merge'. Under 'Main document' choose the 'Create' button and then choose 'Form Letters'. From the dialog box select a 'New Main Document'. Under 'Get Data' select 'Create Data Source'. Follow the instructions on screen to select the fields you wish to use. You will then be given a small dialog-based database into which you can enter all pertinent information to be merged. When you press OK you will be returned to the main document. Type the document as usual; when you need to insert a field that will be individual for each letter then click on Insert Merge Field from the toolbar and select the appropriate field. When you have finished follow the path 'Tools > Mail Merge' and select the Merge button. Then print as usual.

Congratulations, you've just created your first mail merge and with a bit of luck you'll have saved yourself some time. Now go back and experiment to see what else the mail merge function is capable of.

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