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OpenOffice.org Mail Merge and Labels - page 3

My Mail to Your Mail

  • March 12, 2008
  • By Carla Schroder
Merging a contact list with a form letter, whether it's paper or email, is almost as easy if your data sources are already clean and tidy. They must be in a Base database, which we'll cover in more detail next week. Base supports a wide range of data sources, such as email address books, LDAP, MySQL and other databases, spreadsheets, and delimited text files. When you import new data you'll be required to map the database fields to their Base equivalents, and then save it as a Base file.

Base requires Java. Both Sun's Java Runtime Environment and java-gcj-compat work fine. Sun's JRE has a non-Free license, while java-gcj-compat is GPL. You can have more than one Java version on your system, and you need to tell OpenOffice which one to use. Go to Tools -> Options -> Java. It will find your installed JREs, so all you do is click a checkbox.

To create a form letter, such as an exciting new product announcement to send to all of your friends and customers, open a new Writer document. Click View -> Data Sources. Open your desired contact database, and then drag and drop the fields you want to use into the letter. You can position them any way you like. Stick everything in frames for easy editing and positioning of your page elements, like in Figure 2. Then go to Tools -> Mail Merge Wizard to apply finishing touches, such as selecting specific records to use. You can go back and forth between the various steps, and you can insert additional fields from Insert -> Fields, such as the date and page numbers. You'll get all the chances you want to proofread and edit before sending your letters to the printer, and you can always select a single letter as a test printing. If you want to do an emailing, the wizard has an option for that.

OpenOffice is smart enough to handle additional pages correctly; it won't copy the headings on every page. Put your letterhead in a header if you want it to appear on every page.

Come back next week to learn how to import and create contact databases in Base.

Resources

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the newly-released Linux Networking Cookbook, and is a regular contributor to LinuxPlanet.

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