Home Computer: Personalised approach to mailing information

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The Independent Online
MANY word processors also allow you to include information which has been created by other computer programs. So you can have a table of figures created by a spreadsheet, without having to retype all the numbers.

You can also perform 'merges' with database programs - most commonly seen in the 'mail merge', where a single letter and a long list of names and addresses are combined to create a mailshot with all the personalising information taken from the database and slotted into gaps in the letter. This is how Reader's Digest manages to send you personal letters which stuff your street name into the main body of the text.

Of course, paper is not the only way of distributing text. More and more word processing packages include easy links to other programs that allow the electronic transmission of documents. This is known as 'mail-enabling' and makes it straightforward for your documents to wing their way across an electronic mail network - as with many of the letters to the Home Computer page.

Alternatively, you can - with the appropriate hardware plugged into your computer - fax your document directly from the word processor, without having to print it out and then feed it into a fax machine.

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