Automate the addition of a graphic to an envelope using Word

You can insert a graphic into an envelope, but you can't insert a graphic using the automated Return Address feature. You can still automate the insertion of a graphic into a return address portion of an envelope using a predefined AutoText entry.

It's common to customize envelopes these days. Large companies usually order pre-printed stationery envelopes that sport the company logo and so on. You can produce the same effect with your own printer and Word. For instance, you might want to print your logo in the return address, as shown below.

Adding a graphic to an envelope is easy; insert and format the graphic file as you normally would. Then, save the customized envelope with the document. Unfortunately, you can't insert a graphic using  the automated return address feature, so you might think that you have to customize each new envelope, but that's not the case.

If you want to reuse your custom envelope, save it and its graphic as a predefined AutoText entry, named EnvelopeExtra1. Then, every new envelope can include the customization you saved to EnvelopeExtra1 with no more effort than using the automated return address feature.

First, you need an envelope that includes a return address and some sort of customization, such as the graphic in the return address. The following steps will create the customized envelope shown above:

  1. In a blank Word document, choose Letters and Mailings from the Tools menu and then select Envelopes and Labels from the resulting submenu. In Word 2007, click Envelopes in the Create group on the Mailings tab.
  2. Click the Envelopes tab (if necessary).
  3. If there's an address in the Return Address control, I recommend that you delete it or check the Omit option. Otherwise, you'll end up with two envelopes.
  4. Click Add to Document to add an envelope to the document.
  5. Now you're ready to enter the return address and graphic. First, add the return address in the top-left corner, as you normally would and format it.
  6. Position the cursor to insert the graphic. In this case, position the cursor at the beginning of the first line.
  7. Next, insert the graphic as you normally would. Choose Picture from the Insert menu and then choose Clip Art or From File. Locate and insert the file. Don't worry if it doesn't look right at first—it'll need a bit of work. In Word 2007, click Picture or Clip Art in the Illustrations group on the Insert tab.
  8. Resize the graphic if necessary. At this point, it's mostly guesswork, and you can continue to tweak it later.
  9. Right-click the graphic and choose Format Picture.
  10. On the Layout tab, select the Square setting and click OK. In Word 2007, right-click the graphic, choose Text Wrapping, and choose Square.
  11. Resize the graphic some more, if necessary. Apply any other formatting you need.

At this point, you have the custom envelope shown earlier. If it's a one-time effort, you don't need to save the envelope outside of this one document. If you want to reuse the custom envelope, continue as follows in Word 2003:

  1. When both the address and graphic are just the way you want them, delete any extra lines, text boxes, or any other characters.
  2. Select the contents of the custom envelope by pressing [Ctrl]+A. The graphic won't appear selected, but don't worry, it is. A word of warning: Do not highlight anything other than the custom elements. In this case, that's the return address and the graphic. Don't even select blank lines. You might end up with more than one envelope later.
  3. Next, choose AutoText from the Insert menu and then select AutoText.
  4. To save the AutoText entry to a template, choose that template from the Look In dropdown list at the bottom of the dialog box.
  5. Then, in the Enter AutoText Entries Here control, enter the name EnvelopeExtra1. You can't name this particular entry anything you like, you must name it EnvelopeExtra1.
  6. Click Add.
  7. Save the document if you like, but it isn't necessary—the AutoText entry is already part of the template.
If you're using Word 2007, complete steps 1 and 2 above. Then, do the following:

  1. Press [Alt]+[F3] to insert the selected text as a new building block (part of the Quick Parts feature, new to 2007).
  2. Use EnvelopeExtra1 as the block's name.
  3. Save it to Normal.dotm.
  4. Click OK.

Now, open a blank document and add an envelope by choosing Letters and Mailings from the Tools menu and then selecting Envelopes and Labels. Click the Envelopes tab if necessary. In Word 2007, click Envelopes in the Create group on the Mailings tab. If there's an address in the Return Address control, delete it or check the Omit option just above that control. Click Add to Document to insert the custom return address and graphic into the new envelope.

Granted, the setup is a bit involved, but it's worth the effort.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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