Focus On: Letter Templates

Welcome to our Focus On series. In this series of email tutorials, we will show you a few overlooked features in our system. We encourage you to print this document to follow along through the lesson.

Tutorial: Letter Templates

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

  • Lesson 1: Modify an existing template.
  • Lesson 2: Create a new template
  • Lesson 3: Add Merge Fields
  • Lesson 4: Add Prompt Fields
  • Lesson 5: Use Letter Templates with the custom report generator

Lesson 1: How to Modify an Existing Template

To find your letter templates, go to Management and Letter Templates.

  1. Click Modify next to the letter you wish to modify.
  2. Once you click modify, you will see your letter.
  3. Once you have completed your changes. Click Save.

Lesson 2: Create a new template.

Go to Management and select Letter Templates, click Add Letter Template.

You will see the Add Template screen.

  1. The first box is Template Settings:
    1. Letter Name &endash; This is the title you want to give your correspondence.
    2. Letter Size  – Your choices from the drop down menu are the standard letter or legal.
    3. Margins &endash; This allows you to adjust your margins, i.e. for letter head.
    4. Font Name &endash; Your can choose which font you wish the letter to appear.
    5. Font Size &endash; This allows you to adjust the size of the font for the entire letter.
  2. The next area is Template Content. Above the Letter Text box, you should see an toolbar area for editing your letter:
    1. To bold text, highlight the text you wish to bold and click on this icon in the toolbar.
    2. To italicize text, highlight the text you wish to italicize and click on this icon in the
    3. To Underline text, highlight the text you wish to underline and click on this icon in the toolbar.
    4. If you want to see the text in an HTML format, click on this icon.
    5. When you want to enter in a merge field, like name, address or latest contribution, click on this icon. You will learn about this in Lesson 3.
    6. When you want to enter in a prompt field, click on this icon. You will learn about this is Lesson 4.
  3. Below the toolbar is the Letter Text box. This is where you will compose the document. Do NOT copy and paste from Microsoft Word or an online document. Pasting from Microsoft Word may cause invalid characters to be included in your letters. If you have existing text that you want to use, copy the text and paste it into Notepad and then copy and paste from Notepad to the Letter Template. This will make the text plain.
  4. Once you have typed your letter into the text box, click on Save Changes.

Now that we understand how to put most of our message into the letter, let’s see how using Merge Fields and Prompt fields can personalize our letters and make our jobs easier.

Lesson 3: Merge Fields

Merge Fields and Prompt Fields allow us to add personal information onto our letter. This is how we can merge the name and addresses or the user’s name and title onto a group of letters.

First, what is the difference between a Merge Field and a Prompt Field?

A merge Field is information from your database that will automatically filled in when letters are generated. (i.e. Name, address, e-mail, phone number). A Prompt Field is information that is NOT from your database that needs to be filled in manually.

Let’s practice using merge fields and prompt fields.

Below is the text for a letter we want to send out to verify the information we have on file and to request for missing information:

We want to add the current date, the name and address, the salutation, and the most recent contribution. Since all this information exists in the database, we know that these are merge fields.

To insert a merge field:

  1. Put your cursor where in the letter you wish to insert the merge field. For current date, put your cursor at the top of the letter.
  2. Click on Insert Merge Field from the toolbar (Lesson 2).
  3. A new window called Insert Merge Field will appear.
  4. In order to find the field, we have to find the category it belongs. You might have to poke around to try to find which field lives in which category but for many it will be obvious.
  5. Find the Category System.
  6. From the Available fields, select Current Date_Long.
  7. Click Add.
  8. Now our letter should have a merge field for the current date at the top.
  9. Go ahead and put the remaining fields in the letter. Remember to put your cursor where you want the fields to appear.
    1. Find the field Individual Name in the Category General.
    2. Find the field Salutation in the Category General.
    3. Find all the lines for the primary address in the Category Addresses_Primary.
    4. Find the latest contribution in the Category Contributions_Summary.
  10. Once you have completed adding the fields into the letter, it should look like this:
  11. Makes sure you click Save Changes.

Lesson 4: Prompt Fields

Remember, a Prompt Field is information that is NOT from your database that needs to be filled in manually. Prompt Fields can include things like telephone extensions, event names or titles.

For example, This letter could be used for all users in the system but you want to personalize each letter to have the user’s name and title at the bottom.

The user name is Merge Field (see previous lesson) that we can fill in but the title is something that is not listed in the database and therefore you will need to fill it in when you generate your letters. An easy way to do this is to use the prompt fields.

To add a prompt field:

  1. Put your cursor where you want the prompt field to appear.
  2. Click on Add Prompt Field.
  3. Type in the name of the field in the Prompt Field area.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Now it should appear in your letter:
  6. Click Save Changes.

Now that we have a letter with Merge Field, Prompt Fields and Text, we can now use the custom report generator to help us send out letters.

Lesson 5: Use Letter Templates with the Custom Report Generator

To use a letter template for a query:

  1. Go to Reports –> Custom Reports.
  2. Design your query. If I was running letters for missing occupation and employer, I might run a query like this:
    1. Individuals Occupation exactly matches OR Employer exactly matches
  3. Under Export Options, select Type: Communications Tools and Format: Mail Merge
  4. Click Generate, a new mail merge window will open.
  5. Find the drop down for Load Letter Template and select the letter you created.
  6. The letter will populate in the text box.
  7. You will notice a box for your prompt field appears on the left side. (Note: This will not appear if you do not have a prompt field to merge). Once you have completed your prompt field, click Continue.
  8. You will have two options for saving — (Click the option you wish to use):
    1. Create –  This button will generate the letters for you to print without saving a copy in the communications area of the records in the query.
    2. Save & Create &endash; This button will generate the letters for you to print and save a copy in the communications area of the records in the query.
  9. A new window will open with your letters.

And that’s a letter template! Hopefully this will be a great time saver for your campaign.

Do you have an idea for our next Focus On? Is there something you would like to know more about? Simply email us at: support@aristotle.com. We’d love to hear from you!


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