Do you find yourself typing the same response over and over to students at the beginning of a new semester? They are having problems logging in; they want to add your class; why isn’t the Blackboard component of your class available?; and so on. The same repetitive questions. You could create an online FAQ and refer them there, but that is so impersonal. It will make a much bigger impression if you email each student directly, and include some personal comments and encouragement. But how to keep your fingers from wearing out by typing the same thing over and over…? Quick Parts to the rescue.
On our campus we are licensed for Office 2010 (or 2011 for Mac) so all full time faculty members can have it installed on their office computers. We are also part of the FCCC, which means that part-time faculty can purchase the full version of Office 2010 Pro for only $45. The point is, we all have access to Outlook 2010.
Since Word is the email editor for Outlook, we also all have access to the Word feature called Quick Parts. Quick Parts are a species of Building Blocks (like Auto Text, Text Boxes, and other macro like text insertions). You will find the Quick Parts command among the Text group on the Insert tab in an Outlook mail form.
To add blocks of text (or graphics, tables or equations too) just type it in the email form; select it (i.e., highlight it by dragging the cursor over it); click the drop-down symbol on the Quick Parts command; and choose “Save selection to quick part gallery…” Then fill out the resulting form with a Name and default behavior (usually “Insert content only”) for the quick part. Be sure to give your quick part blocks relatively short, meaningful names. Create as many as you want. They will be stored in NormalEmail.dotm, the template file that all of your emails are based on,and will therefore be available to you each time you create an email.
Now,to insert them into an email, click the drop-down for the Quick Parts gallery and simply click on the one you want to insert. If you have given them relatively unique names you can save even more time by simply typing the first (if unique) or first few letters of the quick part and pressing the F3 key, which will insert the desired text at the insertion point.
Here is a video showing how it is all done, including how to store and manage Quick Parts in Outlook (play time = 8:23).