Do You Know How Much You Owe Us (and for how long)?

Have you ever received a "dunning letter"? How did it make you feel? Did you curse the person who decided to send things like this, or the person who specified its content, or the computer that generated it?

These are some of the questions we get ready to explore after learning another office automation skill in this lab. With an eye to how to make a program that will generate a dunning letter for overdue amounts, we learn how to use "conditional logic" for making decisions in Microsoft Word's mail merge automation function.

For example, each of the bold faced amounts in the eaxmple at the right are used to signal the nature of the paragraph in which they appear. If the person has owed a lot for a long time and only paid a little, then one kind of paragraph could be generated. If they have owed a lot for a short time and some has been paid, then another. If they only owe a little because a lot has been paid, then another kind of wording could result.

Many times, people do not know that this all can be done in Word, and that they can choose carefully styled phrasings that will impact their clients in a certain way.

Microsoft Word will accept data from any kind of list that is delimited. Thus, in this second tutorial lab, we learn how to use spreadsheet style accounting lists containing typical office information as a source of data for the personalized dunning letter. Click here to see what the administrative assistant would use as a data source to generate the above dunning letter.

Microsoft Word would be "programmed" through kits mail merge helper to actually compile the letters from the data in this list. During the compilation, logical testing on the various fields would be done to select number of paragraphs, any special wording, and/or relative harshness of the phrasing, depending , for example, on how serious the receivable was.

With a system like this, a professional person can choose how she or he wants to be perceived by the client receiving the dunning letter, without having to delegate the that aspect of the task to an administrative assistant or spend time looking through all of the outstanding accounts.

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