Be More Effective: Excel in mass communication

By Debbie Mayo-Smith

Duplicate letters or emails, misspellings and incorrect email addresses can make you look silly, plus they're wasteful. Before you start your next mass communication, here are some tricks to eliminate waste - and a red face.

First, copy the list you're going to use into an Excel document if not there already.

Problem: First and last names in one column, you can't personalise.

Solution: Under the data menu, Text to columns will split it apart. Tell Excel what to look for - comma, space.

Problem: Double or triple last names.

Solution: Need those "Van de Geens" split into three columns by text to columns? "Concatenate" will put many columns into one.

Problem: Duplicates.

Solution: The exact function will show you where. Simply sort by one column - ie, email addresses. Use "exact" to compare. It will return a true for the duplicates. Office 2007 has a "remove duplicates" function.

Problem: Mixed upper and lower case.

Solution: The function "Proper" will turn everything to proper tense, meaning first letter of each word capitalised, the remaining lower case.

Problem: Extra spaces between names so your text to columns doesn't work

Solution: The function "Trim" gets rid of all extra spaces between items.

With the exception of "Text to columns", the functions listed are found under "Insert function" or the fx icon. After using a function, you have one last step. You see, Excel still sees the results as functions.

To work with the new data simply highlight the column, copy and paste special. Under paste special, select value. This removes the function and replaces it with the new proper format of your text, the last names combined from concatenate.

- Hamilton News

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