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Creating Form Letter Layouts

Form letters—standard letters containing bits of customized information—are easy to create using FileMaker's merge fields. By creating a layout that's mostly text with a few judiciously placed merge fields, you can create a customized letter for your customers:

Dear Ms. Rose,

Spring is in the air and as a long-time customer, you'll want to take advantage of our annual spring flower sale.

All bedding plants are 20 percent off, garden tools are discounted by 15 percent, and turf builders are reduced by 30 percent. But the savings don't stop there! You'll find hundreds of items on sale.

For preferred customers like yourself, the doors open at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. The sale starts for the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 22.

Sincerely,

James Green

In FileMaker, which uses << and >> to mark merge fields, the letter looks like this:

Dear <<courtesy title.>> <<last name>>,

Spring is in the air and as a long-time customer, you'll want to take advantage of our annual spring flower sale.

All <<spring purchase #1>> are <<discount-spring purchase #1>> off, <<spring purchase #2>> are discounted by <<discount-spring purchase #2>>, and <<spring purchase #3.> are reduced by <<discount-spring purchase #3>>. But the savings don't stop there! You'll find hundreds of items on sale.

For preferred customers like yourself, the doors open at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. The sale starts for the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 22.

Sincerely,

<<sales staff name>>

If you resist the urge to drown customers with frequent mailings, form letters with merge fields can be a powerful tool.

To create a form letter with merge fields:

  1. Open the database from which the data will be drawn and switch to Layout mode ( in Windows, on the Mac).

  2. Choose Layouts > New Layout/Report ( in Windows, on the Mac). When the New Layout/Report dialog box appears (Figure 10.46), type a name into the Layout Name text box, choose Blank layout within the Select a layout type area, and click Finish.

    Figure 10.46Figure 10.46 To create a form letter, choose Blank layout when selecting a new layout.

  3. When the new layout appears, select the Type tool from the left-hand Layout status area and begin typing in your letter. When you reach the spot where you want the first merge field to appear (Figure 10.47), choose Insert > Merge Field (Figure 10.48). Or use your keyboard: in Windows, in Mac OS X, in Mac pre-OS X.

    Figure 10.47Figure 10.47 Click your cursor where you want a merge field to appear, then...


    Figure 10.48Figure 10.48 ...choose Insert > Merge Field ( in Windows, in Mac OS X, in Mac pre-OS X).


  4. When the Specify Field dialog box appears, double-click on the field you want to appear in the letter (Figure 10.49). A merge field will appear within the form letter layout (Figure 10.50).

    Figure 10.49Figure 10.49 When the Specify Field dialog box appears, double-click on the field you want as a merge field.


    Figure 10.50Figure 10.50 Once you place a merge field in a layout, a pair of << >> will mark its boundaries.

    Continue typing the letter, adding additional merge fields as you need them until you're done (Figure 10.51). To see what the form letter will look like, switch to Browse mode. To format the letter's fonts and other text attributes, see Formatting Fields or Objects on page 189. To set the letter's margins and prepare it for printing, see Printing on page 247.

    Figure 10.51Figure 10.51 The final form letter shows where each merge field's contents will be inserted once you switch to Browse mode.


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