Message Template

[Create Message Template inside CustomMailer] [Message Template in a File]
[Body & Headers] [Tags] [Macros] [Email Addresses]
[Message body pop-up menu] [Message body keyboard shortcuts]
[Support for international email]

This section describes how CustomMailer message templates work, with a primary focus on plain text messages.  The additional considerations involved with HTML mail messages are covered in the chapter "HTML Mail".

You can create a plain text  message template within CustomMailer itself or read your message template from a regular plain text file (which you must save as text in a .txt file).

Create Message Template inside CustomMailer
The easiest way to create your message template is to do so inside CustomMailer.  Here's how:
    1) Under the File menu, select the item "New Message Template...".
    2) You will be asked if you wish to create a "Plain text message" or an "HTML message".  For purposes of this section, we will be using the "Plain text message" option.
    3) You will be reminded of what your current tag indicator is.  This is also always shown to the lower left of the body of the message.  If desired, you can change this in Preferences.
    4) Click on the "Template" button to the left of the message body (or in the "View" menu select "as Template") to make sure you are in template mode (text will be shown in blue).
    5) Enter your message in the TO, FROM, and SUBJECT header fields as well as the message body.  Optionally, you can enter of the other email header fields.  Use tags as appropriate, for example, |email| in the FROM field.  The sections "Body & Headers", "Tags", and "Macros" below will describe in greater detail what the contents of these fields should be.
    6) When you are done, select "Save Message Template to File..." under the File menu.  Thereafter CustomMailer will remember this file name and open it each time you start up CustomMailer.

screenshot Message Template in a File
You can also create your message template file outside of CustomMailer using a word processor or text editor, and then save to a text (.txt) file and read this file into CustomMailer.

The sections "Body & Headers", "Tags", and "Macros" below will describe in greater detail what the content of your email message template should be.

When you have finished composing your mail message, use the "Save As" command in your word processor or text editor to save your message template. Make sure you change the "Save as type" to "Text only (*.txt)" in your Save As file dialog, then click on "Save".

To read your message template into CustomMailer, use the "Open Message Template" command in the CustomMailer "File" menu.  This menu item will pop-up a set of choices.  The first of these choices is "Open Message Template..." which will open a standard Windows file dialog and let you find and open the message template .txt file you saved from your word processor or text editor.  CustomMailer will remember the most recently read message template file and what folder it is in when you run CustomMailer next time.

CustomMailer will also remember a set of the several most recent message template files you have opened (by default, 5, which you can change in Preferences).  The Open Message Template menu will display and let you quickly select any of these previous message template files.  Since the current message template file is the first in this "history" list, you can use this feature to quickly "reload" a message template that you may have changed inside CustomMailer in order to restore it to its original state or to pick up any changes you may have made to the message template file from a different program while CustomMailer is running.

Body & Headers
If you compose your message in a text editor or word processor, you can add to your message template lines beginning with TO:, FROM:, SUBJECT:, ORGANIZATION:, REPLY-TO:, RETURN-TO:, CC:, BCC:, ATTACHMENTS:, and PRIORITY: (must be all capital letters) to specify these email header values. You can also indicate this message template's tag indicator character using a line beginning with TAG INDICATOR:.  These header lines can appear in any order, but must all appear first.  All the remaining lines will be regarded as part of the message body.  You can subsequently add or modify any or all of these header values once you bring your message into CustomMailer.  When you use "Save" or  "Save As" inside CustomMailer, the contents of your header fields will be saved with the header designators specified as above.

You normally enter your messages without "line wrap", i.e., you only need to hit "Enter" when you want to force an explicit line break ("hard carriage return") in your message, for example to start a new paragraph or to insert blank lines.  While in template mode, CustomMailer will automatically wrap the text based on the current window width.  After you select one or more recipients and the message expands based on each recipient's data, CustomMailer rewraps the lines to stay within the maximum number of characters per line specified in Preferences.  Because you may be substituting strings of varying size for the tags in your message, CustomMailer performs line wrap separately  for each recipient's actual expanded message.

Anywhere in the message body or header fields you can use "tags" to indicate values to be merged in from the mailing list. A tag looks like: |Name| where | (vertical bar) is your tag indicator character (the tag indicator character can be changed in Preferences).

Use two tag characters in a row, e.g.: ||   if you want an actual | to appear in your message.   Tags are case-insensitive, so |name|, |Name|, and |NAME| are all treated the same.  Your message template might look like:

TO: |Email|
FROM: John Sellers <test@wildcrest.com>
SUBJECT: Your |ProductType| warranty

Dear |Title| |Last|:

On |Date|, you purchased a |ProductType| from us for your |OS|-based system. We're pleased to announce that if you renew your |ProductType| warranty by the end of this year, we'll send you a certificate so you or any other |Company| employee to buy a second |ProductType| at half price!

Sincerely, John Richards, Wildcrest Associates

In this example, since  |Email| is a tag in your message and Email is a column heading in your mailing list containing email addresses, then each recipient's email address is substituted for the tag |Email| in forming their customized message.  For each recipient, all the tags in the message template are expanded using their mailing list row of data to create the customized message they will receive.

For more details on using Tags, see "Tags and Macros".

Alternatively, a tag may be defined by a set of rules you can create called a "macro".  Macros are like "conditional tags".  Instead of substituting a mailing list column value directly, you can perform tests on the mailing list column values for this row to control the actual values to be merged into your message.   For example, for the tag |WhichYear| you might specify a macro with rules like:
    IF |Date| ENDS WITH 2003 THEN Earlier this year
    IF |Date| DOESN'T END WITH 2003 THEN Prior to this year
Macros are a powerful way to create highly customized messages based on the data in your mailing list.

For more details on using Macros, see "Tags and Macros".

Email Addresses
In your message the email addresses in the TO: and FROM: fields can be in any of the following commonly recognized Internet forms:
    any string <user@domain.type>
    "any string" <user@domain.type>

In the last two forms, the angle brackets < and > are required.  The last form with quotation marks must be used if "any string" contains certain special characters, including comma, colon, semi-colon, parentheses or angle brackets.

When used as the TO address, the value "any string" will be what the recipient sees in the "To" field of the message itself.  Recipients like seeing their real name rather than just their email address in addressing your correspondence to them, for example:
    Andy Johnson <ajohnson@company.com>

When used as the FROM: address, the value "any string"  will be what the recipient sees in the "Sender" field in the "Inbox" of most standard email reading programs.  Hence, you can grab the recipient's attention using a FROM: address like:
    A special offer for you! <products@wildcrest.com>

You can support multiple recipients in the TO: field of the message if you separate them by commas.  However, this means that if you want to include a comma in the "any string" portion of the full email address, you must use the enclosing quotation marks.  The most typical case in which is occurs is in addressing like:
    "Johnson, Andy" <ajohnson@company.com>

CustomMailer supports CC and BCC fields, which can also have multiple recipients separated by commas.  One copy of the message will be sent collectively addressed to all the TO, CC, and BCC addresses for a given line in the mailing list.  The BCC (blind copy) recipient addresses will not be seen by any other TO, CC, or BCC recipient, whereas all the TO and CC recipients will be seen by all the other TO, CC, and BCC recipients (for this copy of the message). 

Message body pop-up menu
You can right-click on the message body (either plain text or HTML Source and Alternate Text) and get a special pop-up menu.  This menu includes "Cut", "Copy", and "Paste" commands, which duplicate the same commands under the Edit menu and their keyboard equivalents Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-V, respectively.  The pop-up menu also includes a "Find" command, with keyboard equivalent Ctrl-F.  This allows you to search for text strings in your message body.  It also gives you the option to find and replace these text strings with a replacement text string, and you can either "Replace" or "Replace All".  The pop-up menu also includes an "Undo" command, with keyboard equivalent Ctrl-Z, which will undo the most recent edit operation on the message body (there is only one level of undo supported). 

Message body keyboard shortcuts
The message body (either plain text or HTML Source and Alternate Text) supports a number of command key shortcuts to facilitate keyboard-based editing and navigation.  The following table describes these keyboard shortcuts:

by itself
+ Shift
+ Ctrl
+ Shift + Ctrl
delete previous character
delete previous word
delete previous word
delete to start of line
delete next character
delete next word
delete next word
delete to end of line
Page Up
previous page
select all
previous page
select all
Page Down
next page
select all
next page
select all
beginning of line
select line
beginning of file
delete to start of line
end of line
select line
end of file
delete to end of line
Up arrow
previous line
select line
previous line
delete to start of line
Down arrow
next line
select line
next line
delete to end of line
Left arrow
previous character
select word
previous word
delete previous word
Right arrow
next character
select word
next word
delete next word

In addition, the following keyboard shortcuts (as well as the corresponding menu commands) work in the message body:

Ctrl-X cut

Support for international email
CustomMailer can be used to send email in many world-wide languages, but it takes varying amount of work by you and/or your recipients depending upon the language.  See "Support for International email" in "Tips for Effective Use".