Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: April 8, 1997

NEWS YOU CAN USE: ACT! 3.0 users, the latest release of ACT! is version 3.0.5. (Use the command HELP, ABOUT ACT! to check which version you have.) If you don't have the latest update, you can download it from Symantec's Web site (or use ACT!'s LiveUpdate feature). Current patch disks are normally available at User Group meetings.

MEETING FEATURE: Alan Lee, ACT! Certified Consultant, presented an ACT! mini-lesson on the topic of writing form letters. Alan began the meeting by discussing the basics of writing a single quick letter (or memo, fax, or e-mail message) and discussing some shortcuts and tips. He then briefly discussed printing envelopes as well as customizing document templates. We concluded by discussing more advanced techniques such as inserting images and your signature as well as customizing ACT!’s menu.

Quick Letters

A quick letter following a sales call, acknowledging an order or, as a thank-you shows people you are interested in doing business with them. To write a quick letter (or memo, fax, or e-mail message) to a single contact, execute the command WRITE, LETTER (or WRITE MEMORANDUM, etc.) once you have chosen the contact. Then, type your message and print (or fax). You can use ACT!’s INSERT, FILE (ACT! 3.0) or FILE, INSERT (ACT! 2.0) command to insert a specific "chunk" of text (in the form of an ACT! document you have prepared in advance). Alternatively, if you’ve just typed a paragraph of text you’d like to use over again, you can save it as a "chunk" by highlighting it and executing the command FILE, SAVE SELECTION AS.

Form Letters

To write the same letter to many contacts, start by writing the body of your letter. Since ACT! creates form letters by merging a form letter template with the names and addresses of contacts, the body of the letter you create needs to be in the form of a letter template. The easiest way to create a letter template is to modify one of ACT!’s pre-existing ones. Start by executing the command WRITE, EDIT TEMPLATE for ACT! 2.0 users, WRITE, EDIT DOCUMENT TEMPLATE for ACT! 3.0 users. Select the "letter" template and type the body of your letter. You may change the font, margins, etc. When you are finished, save the template with a new name using the SAVE AS command. (If you use the SAVE command, you will overwrite the original ACT! template!)

Next, use the LOOKUP menu to select the contacts you would like to write to. (See the ACT! SIG column in the April issue of Hard-Copy for more information on doing lookups.) Once you’ve done your lookup, ACT! 2.0 users can scan the contact list by executing the command VIEW, CONTACT LIST. The space bar and up and down arrow keys can be used to include or exclude specific contacts from the list. ACT! 3.0 users can use "list view" to scan the contact list. Edit the contact list by highlighting contacts with the right mouse button.

Finally, to print your letters, execute the command WRITE, FORM LETTER (ACT! 2.0) or WRITE, MAIL MERGE (ACT! 3.0).


Printing envelopes is similar to printing form letters. The chief difference is that an envelope template is used instead of a letter template. Otherwise the same commands are used.

Advanced Techniques

Scanned images (such as company logos) may be incorporated into form letters. This can be done by importing the image into (Windows) Paintbrush, copying the image to the clipboard, and pasting it into the ACT! document. When trying to position the image in your letter, remember that ACT! treats the image as a single character or letter. It’s also possible to sign letters and memos using a facsimile of your signature. The best way to accomplish this is to have your signature turned into a font by a third party company such as Skillnet Corporation. This way your signature can properly sized and will have the clearest appearance. Skillnet can be reached at 509-744-0900.


To change the format of the date in a letter from "Tuesday April 08 ..." to "April 8 ...", change the date format found in the Windows Control Panel (under International). This will change the date format for all programs.

Print large batches of form letters in subgroups of 100 per batch. This will reduce the likelihood of printing bottlenecks and "out of memory" errors.

To save time, add letter templates you regularly use to the WRITE pull-down menu. This makes it a snap to write a quick "thank-you" - or print a single envelope. To customize ACT!’s menu, use the command WRITE, MODIFY MENU. (Note, this trick works for ACT! reports, too.)

Insert fields into form letters to further customize them. Information from any ACT! field can be inserted at any point in a form letter. For example, a batch of collection letters might include the specific dollar amount due (which you place in User Field 7) from each customer.

ACT! 3 users can save time creating and testing new envelope templates by converting favorite ACT! 2.0 templates to ACT! 3.0 templates.


of the ACT! User Group will be on September 9, 1997. No meetings will be held during June, July, and August.

The ACT! User Group (a SIG of the C.C.S.) holds meetings on the second Tuesday of the month eight months out of the year. User Group meetings are free and open to all C.C.S. members. They are held at the Midway Motor Lodge in Elk Grove Village. Call E Tech Systems at 847-352-4770 to receive meeting notices or e-mail us via

© Copyright 1997 by Alan M. Lee, all rights reserved. Other nonprofit computer user's groups may reprint this material providing credit is given the author and C.C.S. Future rights for publication reserved by Alan M. Lee. ACT! is a registered trademark of Symantec Corporation.