Examples & Tutorials
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Developing Your Letter Series

Getting your letters into Collect! so that you can start printing debtor notices is a high priority. Collect! ships with many sample letter templates to help you speed up this process and define a style to present to your debtor accounts.

Some companies use colorful letters with a company logo. Others prefer simple letters. Both of these styles can be accomplished in Collect!. The sample letter templates demonstrate simple to complex layouts for professional quality output.

To begin, please print the letter templates. Perhaps one of them is very close to the style you are looking for. Modifying a template will save you valuable report designing time.

Sign into the Demonstration database, or if you have successfully entered a client and a few debtors, you may use your Masterdb database. Open the Debtor form for one of the debtors. Select Print from the top menu bar, and then select Reports and Letters from the drop-down choices. A list of all letters that you can print from the Debtor will be displayed for you.

Scroll down this list to the heading "Debtor Letter Styles Below." You should see a series of letter styles to select from. Select Debtor Letter Style 1 - CS1000 and print this to your printer. After it has printed, repeat the process for Style 2 and keep printing until you have completed printing all the letter styles in your database.

Once they have been printed, have a look at the output. Remember this is just to confirm the style of your letters. Data is a separate issue. Keep your focus on style for now, and decide whether one of the templates satisfies your needs. If you see one you like, take note of the letter identifier at the bottom of the letter template, i.e. CS1000 corresponds to Debtor Letter Style 1 - CS1000. This reference number will be useful to identify the letter later on.

If you can use one of the templates, you will be farther ahead than if you try to create your letters from scratch. If you do not find a template that you can use, fax us a sample of your letterhead, or the letter format you have been using. We may have a sample in our template library that suits you. Also, many templates are available on our web site at Report Samples. These templates are updated continuously.

If you do find a template that you like, note the letter template style number. Now you can focus on the actual data you wish to appear in the letters.

Besides the templates, Collect! also ships with twenty or more actual letter samples. While still on the original test debtor, select Print form the top menu bar, and then select Reports and Letters from the drop-down choices. Print Letter 1 and Letter 2, and any other letters that you may want to check out. Now, we are not focusing on style anymore. Keep your focus on the data and information that is displayed in the letter printout.

tip.gif Some of the letters may not print as you expect, if you do not have the necessary data in the appropriate fields for these samples. All reports, except for internal reports, can be modified and technical support is available to help you get your data right. Don't worry about particulars right now, just proceed until you have chosen the letters you would like to use to set up your letter series.

Let's imagine that Letter 1 is perfect, and you want to apply one of the template styles to this letter. When you have just printed the letter, if you immediately select Print from the top menu bar and then select Edit Reports from the drop-down choices, the report you just printed should be highlighted in the list of reports that is displayed. Select this report to open the Report Definition form and click anywhere in the Report Body to open it for editing.

At the very top of the report, you will notice an include command, @include Header3.txt, for example. If the template you had earlier chosen was Debtor Letter Style 6 - CS1025, then change the include command to @include Header6.txt and Collect! will apply the new style for you. Press F8 to save. Return to your debtor and test Letter 1 again. If it is satisfactory, you can proceed to your next letter test.

By using this method, you can very quickly get your first and second letters ready to be printed for your accounts. This will buy you some time to become more familiar with entering the account information and learning the report writer in greater detail.

This is a big program to learn, it pays to focus on what is important now. Don't worry about more complex reports that you may need later on. You can apply the same principles to them. Run any new report or letter just as it is and see what changes, if any, may need to be made. It is always better to get your basic operations running smoothly rather than getting bogged down trying to learn how to design completely new reports.

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Collection Advisor RMA ACA Member