How to create fillable Outlook email templates from datasets

Today I’ll show you how to create Outlook email templates with dropdown fields. We will be pulling information from a dataset and filling in an email message on a fly. Sounds fun? Then let's get started!

Create and use datasets in Shared Email Templates

Before we start with the basics, I’ll drop a few lines of introduction for those who are new to our blog and don’t know yet what is Shared Email Templates and what the WHAT TO ENTER macro I’m talking about. Shared Templates is a tool that can convert your daily routine in Outlook into a matter of a few clicks. See, you create a set of templates with the necessary formatting, links, pictures, etc. and paste the right template in a moment. No need to type and format your replies anymore, the ready-to-be-sent email is created on a fly.

As for WHAT TO ENTER, I got this macro covered in my previous tutorial, feel free to jog your memory ;)

How to create a new dataset and use it in templates

Now let’s get back to our main topic – fillable Outlook templates. You already know that the WhatToEnter macro can help you paste the necessary data in one or multiple spots of your email. I’ll show you how to automate your routine even more and teach you working with datasets. Simply put, this is a table with data you’ll be pulling the necessary values from. When you apply the WHAT TO ENTER macro, you choose the record to retrieve from this table and it populates your email. As oddly as it sounds, it’s pretty easy in practice :)

Starting from the very beginning, we need to create a table first. Open the add-in, right-click any folder and choose “New Dataset” from the dropdown list:

Create a new dataset in Shared Email Templates.

The add-in will open a new web page in your default browser where you are to create your dataset. Give it a name and start filling in its rows and columns.

Create a new dataset in browser.

Note. Please pay attention to the first column of your dataset as it would be the key one. Fill it with the values that’ll help you identify your rows and easily choose the one you’ll need to take the data from.

Please keep in mind that a dataset is limited to 32 rows, 32 columns, and 255 symbols per cell.

Tip. Alternatively, you may import datasets to Shared Email Templates. Your table should be saved in .txt or .csv format and have no more than 32 rows/columns (the rest will be cut off).

Once you’ve added and filled up the new rows and columns with the info you may need in your templates, just add the WHAT TO ENTER macro to your text. Here is my sample template with the macro I set up to paste a discount rate from the dataset:

Hi,

This is a confirmation for your today’s order. BTW, you got your special ~%WhatToEnter[{dataset:"Dataset", column:"Discount", title:"%"}] discount ;)

Thank you for choosing us! Have a great day!

Fill in a table for a dataset in Shared Email Templates.

See, I’ve just selected a value from the key column and the corresponding discount populated my email. Told you, the key column is important :)

Edit and remove datasets

In case you noticed a mistake or would like to add/remove some of the entrances, you may always edit your dataset. Just select it on the add-in’s pane and hit Edit:

How to edit a dataset in Shared Email Templates.

You’ll be switched to the browser again where you are to modify your table. You may add rows and columns, change their content and move them the way you want. Once you’re done, click Save and all the applied changes will be available right away.

Apply changes to an existing dataset.

If you no longer need this dataset, simply select it and hit Delete:

Deleting a dataset.

It was a simple example of a single-field dataset so that you could get the idea of this feature. Further on, we’ll continue exploring it and learn taking the maximum advantage of datasets :)

How to use multiple-field dataset when writing Outlook emails

As now we have a clear understanding on how datasets are created and used, it’s high time to create a more complex and informative table and fill in multiple places of your email at once.

I’ll import my pre-saved table in order not to bore you with data filling and modify my template a little so that all the necessary fields get populated. I want my dataset to:

  • Paste the discount amount;
  • Add the client’s personal link;
  • Fill in a few lines of customer’s special payment conditions;
  • Insert a lovely “Thank you’ image;
  • Attach an agreement to the email.

Am I looking for too much? No, as I have my dataset prepared :) See me filling in all that info on a fly:

Paste data to several places of an email from one dataset in a click.

You may have noticed that some of the macros were pre-saved in a template. I showed you how to set up a macro to get data from the dataset and merge it with another macro. If you need more examples or further clarification, please leave your feedback in the Comments section ;)

Anyways, here is the final text of my template:

Hi,

This is a confirmation for your today’s order. BTW, you got your special ~%WhatToEnter[{dataset:"New Dataset", column:"Discount", title:"Discount"}] discount ;)

Here goes your personal link: ~%WhatToEnter[{dataset:"New Dataset", column:"Link", title:"Link"}]

There are also a few details we should point out:~%WhatToEnter[{dataset:"New Dataset", column:"Conditions", title:"Conditions"}]

~%InsertPictureFromURL[~%WhatToEnter[ {dataset:"New Dataset", column:"Image", title:"Image"} ]; 300; 200}

~%AttachFromURL[~%WhatToEnter[ {dataset:"New Dataset", column:"Attachment", title:"Attachment"} ]]

Thank you for choosing us! Have a great day!

Tip. In case you need to learn or recall how to merge macros together, refer to this part of WhatToEnter macro tutorial or to the full list of macros for Shared Email Templates.

If you don’t believe the video above, just install Shared Email Templates from Microsoft Store, check out datasets by yourselves and share your experience with me and others in the Comments ;)

Fill in table using dataset in Outlook emails

The list of dataset’s capabilities is not finished yet. Imagine this – your customer is still doubting on how many items to purchase and would like to know more about the discounts and payment conditions. Instead of writing it all in one long sentence you’d better create a table with each available option and its characteristics.

I wouldn’t call it very timesaving to make a new table and fill it with the data you already have in your dataset. However, there is a quick workaround for this case. You may bind your dataset to a table and your email will be filled with the dataset’s info in a wink. You’ll need to:

  1. Open a template and create a table with at least two rows (the number of columns is totally up to you).
  2. Fill in the table’s first row as this is going to be our header.
  3. Right-click anywhere on the second row and choose “Bind to dataset”.
  4. Choose the dataset to pull the data from and hit Ok.
  5. When you paste this template, you’ll be asked to choose the columns to add. Tick all or just some of them off and proceed.
  6. Enjoy ;)

If you’d like to add something visual to the text above, you may have a look at our Docs for the step-by-step screenshots of the dataset binding or check out the small video below.

Pasting the dataset content into a table.

Long story short, you create a table, fill in its header and connect it to your dataset. When pasting a template, you’ll just set the rows to paste and the tool will populate your table in a second.

Here is how my template started to look after the dataset binding:

Hi!

Here are the details you asked for:

Qty of items Volume discount Payment conditions
~%[Qty] ~%[Discount] ~%[Conditions]

In case you need to unbind the dataset, just remove the “connected” row.

How to unbind dataset from a table.

See? Couldn’t be easier :)

Conclusion

In this article I got one more option of our super-helpful macro called WHAT TO ENTER covered for you. Now you know how to create, edit and use datasets in Shared Email Templates and, I really hope, will start using them :)

Thank you for reading! See you in the next tutorials ;)

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