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Page Layouts

Page layouts let you print documents from Populi that use your school's formatting—fonts, text sizes, logos, etc.

  • There are several kinds of built-in layouts—transcripts, donation receipts, mailing labels, and so on. You can modify the built-ins or upload your own (as many as you want of any type).
  • Each layout makes use of certain variables, which pull information from Populi and produce the document you're after. For example, you print a letter from a template; the {!BODY!} variable in the layout pulls in the text from the letter template. Or you print a transcript; the {!TERM_GPA!} pulls in the student's term GPA for Fall 2016. And so on...
  • Layouts use the Open Document file format—.ODT. Open Documents are files that can be opened by multiple word processing programs, including the free Open Office suite.
  • After uploading a layout, you can use it when exporting documents of that type. For example, you upload a custom transcript layout; when exporting a student's transcript, you'll be able to choose that layout. Most document exports in Populi let you choose between exporting in .ODT or .PDF (the PDF will look like the .ODT layout).
We strongly recommend going with Open Office. MS Word can open .odt files, but it really messes with the formatting... enough so that we're steering our users away from using Word for Page layouts.

 

An example of how it works

Using a letter template and a mailing list, you send a printed letter to the Print Queue. Here's what happens:

  1. Populi replaces the {!BODY!} variable in the layout with the text from the letter template (which itself contains variables for senders and recipients).
  2. Populi produces .ODT files based on the layout, which includes your school's logo and address, for every recipient in the mailing list.
  3. There are 100 people on the mailing list, and so 100 unique .ODT files are generated, each one customized for each recipient but otherwise identical to the other 99 files.

What kinds of layouts are available?

Populi lets you do custom layouts for:

  • Printed Letters
  • Envelopes
  • Shipping/Address Labels
  • Library Labels
  • Transcripts (official and unofficial)
  • Receipts (for tuition/fees payments and Bookstore purchases)
  • Financial Aid Award Letters
  • Financial Statements
  • Donation Summaries and Receipts
  • Enrollment Agreements (and signature overlays)
  • Discipline Letters
  • Enrollment Verification Letters

Additionally, you can use custom Transcript and Receipt layouts. They use a lot of advanced variables that aren't covered in this article. Contact Populi Support if you'd like to get started using one of those layouts.

Creating a New layout

What should I include in a layout?

First, it depends what kind of layout you're creating. Populi has three types of layouts: Letters, Envelopes, and Mailing Labels.

The important thing to include in a layout are the variables. variables are a kind of special code that Populi replaces with actual information when you run the print job. For example, {!RECIPIENT_ADDRESS!} would get swapped out for, say, "184 Main Street, McCook, NE 69001" when you print envelopes. There's a full list of variables below.

Beyond that, layouts only need to be very basic—a letterhead image, maybe an address, perhaps a footer with page numbers... again, it depends on what kind of document it is and what you need the layout to do.

Are there any special settings in Open Office I should know about?

Yes, there are. Since most print jobs will be sent to multiple people, it's very important to get certain document formatting items set up. The following instructions tell you what to do in Open Office.

Page Breaks

Properly setting up your page breaks ensures that when you create a print job sent to multiple people, each letter will start on its own page. For example, two half-page letters would print on two separate pages instead of both crowding onto the same page.

At the very top of your layout document (say, where the cursor appears when you first open the program), do the following:

  1. Click Format and select Paragraph.
  2. Click Text Flow; under Breaks, check Insert.
  3. For Type, select Page.
  4. For Position, select Before.

Page Numbering

If you're including page numbers in your layout, use these settings to have the page numbers re-set for each Letter in the print job. For example, two three-page Letters would produce a six page document with pages numbered 1,2,3; 1,2,3. Unfortunately, this doesn't also re-set the page count (i.e. Page 1 of 3); for this reason, we recommend not including the page count field in your page numbering.

At the very top of your layout document (say, where the cursor appears when you first open the program), do the following:

  1. Click Format and select Paragraph.
  2. Click Text Flow; under Breaks, check With Page Style.
  3. For Type, select Default.
  4. For Page number, select 1.

Special settings for envelopes

In Open Office, there are a few things you need to do to make sure your envelopes print properly:

  • Page Break Settings: See above for how to set up page breaks; those same settings apply to envelopes.
  • Text Frame Anchors: In Open Office, the Return Address and Addressee text appear in Text Frames.
    1. Right-click the outline of the Text Frame. Select Frame from the menu.
    2. Click Type; under Anchor, select To paragraph and click OK.
    3. Do this for both frames!

How should I use variables?

Below is a list of the variables available to you for use in layouts.

  • These same variables can be used in email and letter templates. Make sure that the variables on the template and the layout don't "overlap". For instance, if you included the recipients' name and address in both, letters would print with everyone's name and address twice.
  • When you use these variables, make sure you type them properly. If you don't, Populi won't catch them and you might send out Letters with some half-baked code stuck in the middle.
  • Variables only work with particular kinds of layout types—you can't mix different kinds of variables in, for example, a receipt layout.
  • Any formatting you apply to the variables will be applied to the text that replaces them in the print jobs. For example, if you put Body in italics in the layout, all of the template content will print in italics.
  • Variables don't work in document headers or footers.

Letter Layout variables

  • {!BODY!} This Variable gets swapped out for the content in a Letter template, including any variables used in the template.
  • {!DATE!} The Date the print job is first created.
  • {!RECIPIENT_PREFIX!}     {!RECIPIENT_FIRSTNAME!}     {!RECIPIENT_LASTNAME!} {!RECIPIENT_PREFERREDNAME!}: Recipient name variables speak for themselves.
  • {!RECIPIENT_ADDRESS!}: The recipient's Primary Address.
  • {!SENDER_PREFIX!}     {!SENDER_FIRSTNAME!}     {!SENDER_LASTNAME!} {!SENDER_PREFERREDNAME!} {!SENDER_TITLE!}: Sender name variables, likewise, speak for themselves.

Envelopes and Mailing Label variables

  • {!RECIPIENT_FORMALNAME!}: The formal name includes prefixes (Mr., Dr., etc.), First, Last, and Suffixes (Jr., Sr., etc.). Also, if you're including spouses in a mail merge, this will lump their names into one Formal Name (adhering as faithfully as possible to Emily Post...).
  • {!RECIPIENT_ADDRESS!}: The recipient's Primary Address.
  • {!REPEAT!} Mailing Labels only! For Mailing Labels, in the top left label frame, enter the two Recipient variables; in the remaining frames, you only need to enter the Repeat Variable.

Receipt variables

  • {!PAYER_NAME!}     {!PAYER_ADDRESS!}: The name and address of the payer (whether the student, a third party, or an organization).
  • {!STUDENT_FIRST!}     {!STUDENT_LAST!}     {!STUDENT_ID!}: The student whose account the payment (or refund) was applied to.
  • {!TRANSACTION_NUMBER!} {!POSTED_DATE!}     {!ADDED_TIME!}: The transaction, and the date and time it was posted.
  • {!AMOUNT!}     {!METHOD!}: How much was paid (or refunded)? How was the amount paid or refunded (i.e. cash, credit card, etc.)?
  • {!PAYMENT_TYPE!}: Is this a payment or a refund? Populi will figure it out and insert the correct type here. Don't get this confused with the payment method variable!
  • {!REFUND_MESSAGE!}: If the payment type is a refund, Populi will insert the following message: This receipt represents a refund made from (insert SCHOOL NAME) to another party.
  • {!PAYMENT_NUMBER!} {!REFERENCE_NUMBER!}: Details gleaned from the appropriate transactions.
  • {!ORIGINAL_AMOUNT!} {!AMOUNT!} {!CONVENIENCE_FEE_AMOUNT!}: Amount + convenience fee = original amount.
  • {!IP_START_TERM_NAME!} {!IP_END_TERM_NAME!}: The earliest and latest term names in which a given payment may be applied.

Adding a Page layout to Populi

  1. Click Add a Page layout.
  2. Give the layout a name.
  3. Select the layout type.
  4. Check if this is to be the default layout for this type.
  5. Upload your .odt file.
  6. Click Save.

Now that you've uploaded this layout, you can start using it. Additionally...

  • Click   to download a proof of the layout. This fills in some nonsense text so you can get an idea how it looks when you use it in a print job... and also lets you check your work (formatting, page breaks, etc.).
  • Click the layout name to delete it or upload a new .odt to overwrite the old one.
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1 Comments

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    Patrick Friesen

    When you are creating an envelope or label can you select the individual fields within an address? Like {Recipient_Street}?

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