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Creating Message Templates

Last Updated: Oct 17, 2015 05:49PM EDT

Message templates provide HLAdmins with the ability to craft attractive and functional messages.  These templates can be simultaneously formatted in HTML and plain text (the plain text editor can often be ignored as HTML content is displayed as plain text where email client settings determine display).  Variables allow the messages to greet recipients by name and include member-specific links and text.  Message Templates are created on the Admin site's Email Templates page found under Communities. 

Subject and Other Message Options

Before crafting the actual messages to be sent, the Admin has several options to consider.  These fields should be used by an Admin to:

  1. maximize the benefit to recipients
  2. ensure Admins can find and use the Template successfully in the future
  3. provide Admins with the verification they need for sent messages

The following fields are atop the Add/Edit Template page:

  • Template Name:   This is only seen my Admins with access to the template. It is not the message subject.  Give your email template a name that will make its purpose clear to all Admins who may see it.
  • Active Switch: Notice the “active” box next to the Template Name.  Unclicking this box will remove the Template from the list of messages that can be selected by an Admin. 
  • Used For: A master switch for Automation Rules-based email templates as opposed to other templates.
  • Subject:  Enter what you want visible to the user in the subject line of the email.  Be sure to add something here that will prompt opening of the message. The subject field accepts variables. 

The Message Body: Plain Text and HTML

After completing the subject and other message options an Admin can create the body of the messages to be sent.  Messages can be formatted in both HTML and plain text formats.  Templates can be simultaneously formatted in HTML and plain text. An HLAdmin can generally be confident that omitting any input in the plain text editor will not be problematic. HTML content is displayed as plain text where email client settings determine display.

Default Templates

Community and Global Admins will have access to templates for messages received by community members after being invited to a Community and after being added to a Community by an Administrator.  It is recommended that edits to these defaults be kept to a minimum. Specifically, the links should not be altered.  These defaults are system wide and have evolved over time to provide the information sought by, and answer the questions of, new members.  These links, such as the links to accept or reject community invitations, are central to the function of the communities.

As shown in these default templates, Admins can create specialized links through the use of multiple variables.  While the coding of these complex should generally be left to very experienced administrators all Admins can refer to the complex links in these default messages for insight into commands and coding.  



When constructing a Template, Admins can choose to use Variables to provide individualized and community-specific content and links to users.  This is very similar to the “mail merge” functionality of MS Word.  The default Templates for community invitations and join messages utilize Variables to create community-specific links.  By using Variables, these templates are applicable to all communities.  The Templates created to serve single communities should utilize specific links to the community pages and microsite pages of use to them.  The addition of Variables is most helpful in creating user-specific content – such as Dear [FirstName]. 

Recommended Variables and their Function

There are four kinds of Variables, each looks for information in different places to determine what to render.  Of these, Contact Variables and Community Variables have the best options for Admins.  There are dozens of variables, most of which a Community or Global Admin will never need.  Many of the variables not recommended for use require correct coding in combination with other variables to render meaningful links. 

Variables List

The variables active for any template vary template to template.  Use the variables list below as a general guideline when creating personalized and community-specific links and content. 

copy/paste ready

example includes Variable output in bold





Use to personalize all messages


Verify their contributions: “We are happy to have representation of Company XYZ through you!”


Open the email with a professional greeting: “Dear David”


Open the email with a friendly greeting: “Dear Dave”


Recommend completing the profiles and include a link: “Click the following link to complete your profile and help others get to know you better… LINK”




Mostly relevant to complex links

none recommended





Especially good for Templates used by multiple Communities


Verify the name of the community:  “Thanks for joining the XYZ Working Group Community”


Verify why the community purpose using the information provided on the Community Description page: “Thanks for helping us address the mission of the Nominations community: Recommending new board members…”


Link to the community landing page on the website: “Review a list of other community members here:  LINK”


Promote upcoming events: “Please plan on attending the upcoming Chapter Meetings – these are listed on our online calendar linked here: LINK”


Promote participation in the Discussion eGroup: “Find out what others are saying and let us know your thoughts in the discussion linked here:  LINK”


Promote online content: “Community members have contributed over 75 documents, these are online in the community library linked here: LINK”


Link to the community microsite/website: “Our community website has never had more great content.  Check it out here:  LINK”





None recommended





Instructions: Adding Variables

  1. Click the “edit” or “new template” links as necessary to allow for editing or creating a Template.
  2. Place your cursor in the message where you want the Variable to function. Do this for the HTML Template only.
  3. Add the variable(s) to the message. This can be done in one of two ways:
    1. Use the “Add Mail Merge Variable” button
    2. Click the “Add Mail Merge Variable” button at extreme right of the bottom tool bar
  4. Expose the list of the kind of Variable you want by clicking on the related “ ” sign
  5. Select the Variable.
  6. Copy/Paste from another source (such as the table above)
    1. Copy the entire variable, including both [ ] brackets.
    2. Paste into the message where you want the variable to appear.
  7. After completing your HTML Template, copy and paste the entire contents of the editor into the Text-only editor. Make whatever edits are needed to achieve formatting goals.
  8. Send yourself test messages in both HTML and plain text and make further edits as necessary.
  9. When satisfied with format, save Template.


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