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5 Tips and Tricks for Using Word for Business

Handy features can save you time and money Most people don't use every feature built-in with their software applications. We tend to pinpoint those we find helpful and call it a day. Here are five features within Microsoft Word, the word-processing software in Microsoft Office that I use in my business to save time and money. Create and design your company's letterhead, choosing from an array of free clip art from Microsoft. One thing every business needs is official letterhead. You don't have to buy it.

If you know the design you want, you can create it in Microsoft Word and save it as a template to use time after time. Creating a letterhead doesn't have to be complicated; it can be as simple as the company name, address and telephone number. Word provides a wide variety of fonts, and you can vary type sizes. You may want to add art to your letterhead. You can scan in your logo and use it in your letterhead.

Or there is another option. Microsoft maintains a huge collection of free clip art. For instance, if you want to add a flower, Microsoft has more than 1,000 designs. The clip art collection is available to registered users of Word. You'll find it at Microsoft Office's Design Gallery Live. Microsoft also offers free templates for letters, labels and forms. They're located in the Template Gallery. (Most run in Word, although some require other software programs. For example, the project management templates require Microsoft Project 2000 or a later version.) Send the same letter to many people without addressing each separately.

Sometimes you need to make an advertising pitch to all of your customers. Or you want to announce a change in your staff. This can seem daunting but it doesn't have to be. Word's Mail Merge tool simplifies things greatly. Basically, Word uses a list of names and addresses from a table. The table can be created in Word, in Microsoft Access or even in Microsoft Outlook. All are part of Microsoft Office. This obviously works best with planning. You'll probably need a database and Access is the better way to go for that. But the learning curve here is much steeper than putting everything in Excel (also part of Microsoft Office).

I'll use Excel as the example but keep in mind that you have more choices. Start this process with your letter. The same letter goes to everyone; you can't do a lot of customisation. When you write the letter, leave space for the person's address and the salutation. When setting up Excel, you obviously need the person's name and address. You'll also need a salutation field. If Rocky Jones is one of the people receiving the letter, you might want the salutation to be Dear Rocky. If your relationship with Dr. Rocky Jones is more formal, the salutation might be Dear Dr. Jones.

So the names in the Salutation column would be "Rocky" or "Dr. Jones." Next, open your letter. Click Tools > Letters and Mailings > Mail Merge. Follow the wizard's directions on the right side of the screen. To select recipients of your letters browse to your list of contacts in Excel, Outlook or another database. In addition to letters, you can address envelopes and labels with Mail Merge. It can make life a lot easier. Add a watermark to a document so everyone knows that it is a draft.


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