Mail-merging: The Principles

About mail-merging

Mail-merging is the process of merging variable data and fixed text.

Using mail-merging, you can create individualised letters, envelopes, labels and other documents without having to laboriously create each individual one.

Mail-merging naturally fulfils one of the DfES's conditions of reducing the administrative burden on teachers, namely that when data is inputted into a computer system it should be right first time. One of the aspects of this principle is that computer data should not have to be re-entered in order to generate a different view of it.

Examples of mail-merging

The "right first time" principle can be illustrated by the number of different kinds of document that you could create using one set of data consisting of school names and addresses and Head teachers' names:

Notification of funding allocations for anew financial year.

Invitation to a meeting.

Attendance registers for courses/conferences.

End-of-term letter.

Labels for conference packs.

Address labels for the envelopes. You can even use the same set of data (if set up properly initially) to send different letters to (for example):

Primary schools/secondary schools.

Schools that have/have not submitted their ICT Strategy.

Head teachers that are invited to a meeting on Monday, and those invited to the meeting on Tuesday. Advantages of mail-merging

It can save a lot of time over the long term.

Recipients often feel as if they have been given individual attention. Disadvantages of mail-merging

It can take a long time to set up initially, and so may not be worth it for a one-off job.

Recipients often feel as if they have been given individual attention. This is not always a good idea.

Terry Freedman runs the website http://www.ictineducation.org, on which he sells the Big Database, consisting of 1008 records and 23 fields -- ideal for practising mail-merging!

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