On the very simplest level, the main purpose of ACT! is to serve as a place to store all the contacts that you interact with on a daily basis. You can add and edit all your contacts from the Contact Detail window because it contains all the information that pertains to one particular record and allows you to see all your contact fields.

You probably have lots of contacts that you're dying to enter into your database, so jump right in and follow these steps:

1. If you aren't already in the Contact Detail window, go there by clicking the Contacts icon on the ACT! Nav bar.

2. In the Contact Detail window, choose from one of three ways to add a new contact to your database:

• Choose Contact --> New Contact.

• Click the New Contact icon on the toolbar.

• Press the Insert key on the keyboard.

Initiating any of the preceding commands results in a blank contact record. You're now ready to enter the new contact's information.

3. Begin entering information by clicking in the Company field and typing the contact's company name.

ACT! doesn't distinguish between actual contacts and blank contacts. Failure to enter information or repeatedly pressing the Insert key results in numerous blank contact records, which are of no use and only serve to clog up the database. So, although you are free to leave any of the ACT! fields blank, you do have to enter something, so begin with the company's name.

You can always go back to a record later and add, change, or delete any information in any field.

4. Click in the next field where you want to enter information and start typing.

You can also use the Tab key to advance to the next field. If you inadvertently press the Tab key once too often, you may find that you advanced one too many fields and ended up in the wrong field. But don't fret: Press and hold down the Shift key and then press Tab to move your cursor in the reverse direction.

5. Continue filling in fields.

ACT! comes with approximately 50 pre-programmed fields that reflect the needs of most users. Many of the fields are fairly self-explanatory (and reflect the type of information that you probably expect to find in any address book): contact name, company name, phone, city, state, and zip code. These are conveniently located in the top half of the Contact Detail window. A few of the fields are a little less obvious:

• Address: If you assume that the three fields ACT! provides for the address is meant to store three alternative addresses, you're wrong! The second and third address fields are meant for really long addresses. This field is a good place to include a building name if it is an integral part of the address.


• 5160-style labels, popularly used for mass mailings, generally print four lines of information: company, contact, street address, and city/state/zip code (all on the fourth line). If you need to use the second and third address fields, you need larger labels.

• ID/Status: The ID/Status field is essentially the category field, and it files each of your contacts into categories. By using the ID/Status field, you don't have to manually set up a variety of databases: one for your friends, one for your clients, one for your vendors, and so on. The ID/Status field comes preset with a couple dozen of the most commonly used categories, including friends, customers, vendors, and competitors, which makes searching for each of these categories in a flash easy.

• Salutation: This field refers to the name that comes after the word Dear in a letter, which is used in your letter templates. By default, ACT!, being the friendly type, uses the first name. Feel free to change the salutation to a more formal one.


• If you prefer using the more formal salutation as the default setting, choose Tools --> Preferences and click the Salutation Preferences button conveniently located on the General tab.

• Referred By: This field is one of the most commonly overlooked ones in the database. Information entered into this field is used in the Source of Referrals report; failure to enter Referred By information renders the report useless. So what's the big deal? Suppose you're paying for advertising in two newspapers — wouldn't knowing which one attracted the most prospects be nice? If you're attending trade shows or putting a lot of time and effort into your Web site, wouldn't you like to know if your efforts have resulted in any new business? And, if an existing customer is sending you lots of new leads, wouldn't honoring him with a nice ham at Christmas rather than the customary fruitcake be nice?

• User: Notice that several User fields are in the bottom half of the Contact Detail window. These fields hold information that's specific to your business.

• Leave these particular fields blank until you rename them. If you don't, you may end up with various kinds of data entered into one field.

You can always go back and add, change, or delete field data at any time!

6. Don't be alarmed when ACT! automatically formats some of your field data when you enter information.

7. Add your data as uniformly as possible.

8. If necessary, add multiple entries to a field.

Generally, limiting yourself to one item per field is the best practice. From time to time, however, you find a situation in which a contact falls into two categories. For example, JoAnne Chamar might be both a friend and a client. In this situation, you can use the drop-down list to enter more than one item into a field.

To select several criteria to be included in a single field, follow these steps:

• a. Place your cursor in the field.

• b. Check off your desired selections.

• c. Click the desired entries from the Edit List Values dialog box.

• d. Click anywhere outside of the dialog box to close it.

• The various entries appear in the field, separated by a comma.

9. When you fill in the information for each new contact, don't forget to click the various tabs at the bottom of your layout.

You find additional fields lurking on these tabs. The Home Address tab is the place you record personal information about a contact. You might have a few other tabs that you can also choose from.

Different layouts display different tabs. If you change your current layout, you're probably looking at a different set of tabs.

If you forget to click those tabs along the bottom of the Contact Detail window, you just might overlook some of the fields that you need to fill in important information. So, be sure to click those tabs!

10. Save the new contact information.

Theoretically, you don't have to save new contact information; it's saved if you do any of the following:

• Execute any other ACT! command, which includes anything from adding a note or sales opportunity to scheduling an appointment.

• Move on to another record in the database.

• Click the Save button (represented by the small floppy disk icon on the toolbar).

• Press Ctrl+S.

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