Microsoft Outlook: How to Automate Email Responses with Quick Parts

by Dawn Bjork, MCT, MOSM | The Software Pro

In Microsoft Outlook, there are four ways to save time by automating email responses: Templates, Signatures, Quick Parts, and Automatic Replies, also known as Out of Office. Of these options, my favorite is Quick Parts. Whether you are composing a new message or replying to an existing message, Quick Parts is a time-saving way to easily build an email response. With Quick Parts, you can store or reuse boilerplate text you want to use on an ongoing basis. These might include responses to requests for information, links to resources, or other frequently used email content.

Creating a Quick Part

To create a Quick Part in Outlook:

  1. The easiest way to start is to either open and reply to an existing message you have sent earlier or create a new message containing the text you want to reuse.
  2. Next, highlight the text you want to save as a Quick Part. All of the formatting, images, links, and content will be stored as part of the Quick Part.
  3. Then move to the Insert tab. Towards the right-hand side is Quick Parts, found in the Text group. From here, you’ll see a list of any existing Quick Parts you may have. To create the Quick Part, choose the option to Save this selection to the Quick Parts Gallery.
  4. From the Create New Building Block dialog box, enter a descriptive name for your entry such as Marketing Follow-up or Supplier Resources.
  5. Next, choose where you want to store the entry, in this case, Quick Parts. Then, pick a category that helps you organize your Quick Parts. The default choice is General although you can also create additional categories such as Proposals, Meetings, or Contracts.
  6. Optionally, add a description that displays when you hover over existing Quick Parts choices.
  7. By default, your entry will be saved in the template, NormalEmail.dotm.
  8. Finally, there are options as well for how the Quick Part will be inserted. Finish with OK and close your sample email message without saving.

Working with Quick Parts

To insert a Quick Part into an email:

  1. To add a Quick Part to a message, either create a brand new message or reply to an existing message.
  2. Next, move to Insert > Quick Parts which displays your entries organized by category. For each Quick Part, you will see a preview of the content. When you hover over a specific entry, you may also see the optional description.
  3. From here, simply select the Quick Part you want to insert into your message. The big advantage here is that not only can each entry include formatting, links, and graphics, but you can also use multiple Quick Parts entries within one email message.
  4. For more flexibility on how you add Quick Parts, right-click on the entry to display a shortcut menu which includes options on where you want to insert the Quick Part entry such as the beginning or end of a document.

To modify or organize your Quick Parts:

  1. If you want to edit your Quick Parts entries, first launch a new message. Then move to the Quick Parts list, and right-click on any entry to display several options to modify your entries.
  2. Pick Edit Properties to change the name, category, or description.
  3. Choose Organize and Delete to open the Building Blocks Organizer where you can not only change properties but also delete entries you no longer need.

To update a Quick Part:

  1. It’s easy to make changes to an existing Quick Part by first inserting the current entry into an email message.
  2. Next, edit the content with the changes and formatting you want to update.
  3. Finally, repeat the initial steps you used to create the Quick Part using the same name as before. When you complete the Quick Part, confirm you want to replace the previous entry.

Once you start working with Quick Parts, you’ll probably wonder how you ever managed without them! Because you can add multiple Quick Parts to a message and include all content, formatting, and graphics, these give you lots of flexibility as you build your email responses. The only trade-off, and there really isn’t a big downside, is if you create a number of Quick Parts, you’ll probably be pretty attached to them and so, you’ll want to make sure you back up the file where they’re stored if you’re upgraded to a new computer. Otherwise, you’ll have to build them all again. If you want to share them with other people, one option would be to share your template file, NormalEmail.dotm (which would override any previous entries they have), or you could add them all into one email so someone else could then create their own Quick Parts as they wish.

How can you leverage Quick Parts to save time and to more easily automate your email responses?

Dawn Bjork is The Software Pro®, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOSM) Master, and Microsoft Office expert. Dawn is passionate about sharing smart and easy ways to increase your software productivity through her work as a conference speaker, software trainer, computer consultant, and author of 9 books. Discover more software tips, techniques, and timesavers at Dawn also shares oodles of daily tips on Twitter and Facebook.

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