Knowledge - Running Merge Documents

The HowNow merge document system can create and populate Microsoft Word documents such as letters and forms with data extracted from an external contact database. If the Records module is installed, the resulting documents (records) are automatically stored in the Records database.

Before a merge document can be created they must have the following details set-up by the HowNow Administrator:

  • The contact has been included in the contacts database and contains the contact’s address and other details.
  • Microsoft Word document templates stored in the HowNow database and containing bookmarks specifying the type and location of data to be merged. 
  • An optional Microsoft Word template specifying the style of document to be produced. It must be stored in the HowNow database with the document type ‘Master Style’. This template typically contains the firm’s standard letterhead details, page layout and fonts. See Master Style Templates for more details.

Running a merge document:

Note: HowNow ‘remembers’ many of the following settings on a user by user basis so that merge documents are easier to prepare the next time.

  • Open the required document template in HowNow. If the Document Has Merge Fields option is checked in the profile, the Merge Document dialog will be displayed. If this option is not checked, HowNow will ignore any bookmarks in the document and open it as a normal document. 
  • Select the Style Template required to specify the style of document to be produced. If a style template is not required, select ‘N/A’. See Master Style Templates for more details. Note: If a document has a style template attached, this template will appear as the default template in the drop-down list. Note: If you are an administrator or a content administrator and the master style template is changed, HowNow will prompt you to save the change back to the template so that it doesn't have to be changed again.
  • In the Area, Contact and Location fields, select the source of the merge data and, if the Records module is installed, the location (and any sub-location) for the record document. Note: If a range of contacts is selected, HowNow will automatically create a record for each one.
  • The Title/Subject field is mandatory and it is used as the name of the resulting record document and the value of the HowNowSubject bookmark. The title can also be chosen from a drop-down list of standard titles. Note: The title can have the record ID, contact field values or dates automatically embedded. See Standard Record Titles for more details.
  • Only use the Reference field if a reference is required in the document. In most cases this field is unnecessary as HowNow letter templates contain an automatic reference field. Note: if this field is used, HowNow bookmarks can be embedded in it to generate an automatic reference.
  • The Greetings text can be selected from the drop-down list or typed into the field.
  • The Signoff text can be selected from the drop-down list or typed into the field.
  • The Signatory name and Position can be selected from the drop-down list. This list is populated from the employee list and the employee's details. Note: if a SignatoryName or a SignatoryInitials field is available in contacts, HowNow will use its value instead of the value in the Signatory field.
  • Check the Alternative Required field and select an alternative contact’s name if an alternative contact is required. Note: the HowNowSelectText bookmark allows the appropriate text to be inserted into the document depending of whether an alternative contact is required or not.
  • The Preparer, Manager, Partner and Reviewer fields allow these names to be inserted in the document via the HowNowPreparer, HowNowManager (or Reviewer) or HowNowPartner group of bookmarks. They can also be used to filter the resulting records if the Records module is installed. Note: if PartnerName or PartnerInitials or ManagerName or ManagerInitials fields are available in contacts, HowNow will use their values instead of the values in the Partner and Manager fields.
  • If the Records module is installed, use Record Status to set the status of the new record. The default is Draft.
  • The Action > Print radio button specifies that the document should be printed after it is created. The Action > Edit radio button specifies that the document should be opened for editing after it is created. If the Records module is installed, the Action > Batch radio button specifies that a ‘batch’ of documents is to be created for later processing. A global batch number appears beside the Batch button. This number can be used in Records to access this ‘batch’ later.
  • Administrators or Content Administrators can use the Diagnostic Mode checkbox to switch on the inbuilt diagnostics to help with debugging the document. In diagnostic mode, HowNow displays the text of each Select Text bookmark before it is executed.
  • Click the Create button to create the merge document or documents. If Records is installed, the resulting document or documents will be stored in the Records database.

Additional Data

If the merge document template has been set-up with optional data, the AskData screen will appear - the information entered into these fields will be populated into the resulting record(s). The can be a few items requiring additional data or there can be many. In certain cases, answering one question will result in further details being requested - there may be one or more pages of data requested. Click OK when finished to complete the merge.

If you are running a batch of merge documents, you have the option of using the Repeat select box (top right of the form) - this will repeat the same data in the document for all of the contacts selected.

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