Mail merge in Google Docs

Until recently I’ve not needed to use mail merge style functionality in Google Drive however I am keen to build a way of generating individualised revision questions for students based upon their self-reflection. I already collect this via Google Forms so wanted to create a script that parses student responses automatically or at a set time.

The first piece of the solution was to use autoCrat – a Google Sheets Add-In which can be found here . This script allows you to create individual Google Docs or PDF documents built from individual rows in a Google Sheet. It was very easy to use once installed, but there is a great “how to” guide written by Krista Moroder .

Adding mail merge tags to a Google Doc is easy. Simply use <<tag name>> and make sure there are no numbers inside the tag. Then, in the Google Sheet, open autoCrat and set up your mail merge. Once you connect to your template document it will automatically pick up the mail merge tags and let you match them up to the columns in your Google Sheet.

What I really love about autoCrat is that you can then use the merge tags in an email. So you can send automatic responses to users in a GAFE domain simply by requiring them to be logged in before completing the form. Alternatively you can send yourself an email so that you know when a student has completed the feedback form and then forward it on to them.

Next I want to parse the individual responses and replace their areas of development with related revision questions. If anyone has any pointers to plugins or scripts that can do this, please let me know!

The blogger shuffle

Earlier this month I received a bit of sad news. Postach.io was going premium only and my intermittent online presence was going to disappear.

I really like Postach.io but wasn’t willing to commit to an annual fee quite yet. I wish them all the best with their service and may – one day – rejoin the ranks…. but for now it’s back to WordPress!

This time the move was easier. I moved my Evernote blog posts from the Postach.io notebook into a new one called Caffeinetangent (for my own clarity if nothing else) and synchronised. Then I set up a Zapier account and used their recipe to create a WordPress post for every new note than appeared in the Caffeinetangent notebook in Evernote.

One downside I’ve noted is that images from Evernote don’t feed into the WordPress post. Has anyone had any experience with this and can offer a solution?