Once the postcards arrived, mailing labels moved to the top of my list. I have several sources of addresses: Outlook contacts in two profiles, and several Excel spreadsheets. There are duplicate names. I have physical addresses for some people, e-mail addresses for others, and both for many. I would like to minimize the duplication of messages to people, although it’s fine with me if people get both an e-mail message and the physical mailed message.
I figured the right thing to do was to get everything into a big Excel spreadsheet. There’s a way you can get Outlook to dump its contact information as a spreadsheet. In Office 2010, go to File>Options>Advanced>Export. This is not a scalpel, it’s a chainsaw; the resulting file has a column for every Outlook contacts field, and a row for each of your contacts. In order to make it useful, you need to go through and delete all the columns that you’re not using, i.e. all but first name, middle name, last name, company name, street address, city, state, zip, e-mail. I did that. Then I went to the other Outlook contact list, exported it, and deleted the same columns.
I cut and pasted the lists that were already in Excel until their format looked like the ones I’ve gotten from Outlook. Then I pasted all of the spreadsheets together into one big one.
I sorted everything by last name and deleted rows with duplicates. I deleted all of the rows containing contact information on people to whom I didn’t want to send announcements. I sorted what was left by street address, which had the effect of concentrating all of the entries without street addresses at the bottom of the spreadsheet. That made it easy to copy all of the entries with street addresses into another tab of the worksheet.
Microsoft Mail Merge makes it pretty easy to go from a spreadsheet full of contacts to mailing labels coming out of the printer. Search for “excel mail merge” and pick the set of instructions that appropriate to your version of Office.
After having gone through this, I have two warnings and suggestions. First, before you purchase your mailing labels, make sure that they are among the ones that the mail merge part of Microsoft Word supports. This is different than having a template available for the mailing labels; open up the mail merge ribbon, pick labels, then options, and scan the drop-down list to see if your label is there. Second, note that you must manually populate the fields on all of the labels in a page. The way to do this is to get the first mailing label printing the way you want it, copy that information, and paste it into all of the other label positions on the page, being sure not to overwrite the << next record>> field; put the formatting information after that field. This may sound like gibberish now, but it will all make sense when you’re looking at the screens.
Print one page at a time until you’ve sure you got it right, then stand by your printer with a satisfied smile on your face as it prints all your labels.
After I had all the envelopes stuffed and labeled I ran into a snag. The package seemed a little heavy, although Modern had said that this particular postcard and its accompanying envelope weigh less than an ounce. My postage scale said 1.2 ounces. Just to make sure, I took some of the postcards down to the post office and had them weigh a few; all were over an ounce. They were happy to sell me stamps to make the postage right.
I’ve mailed more than a hundred, and I’m working on the rest. After that, I need worry about the email announcement.