How to Create a Roster from a Mail Merge

Staff, volunteer and school rosters are ever-changing. Members leave/join a group and change their contact information on an ongoing basis. An efficient way to create and maintain these updates is with a database. Not only does a database save tons of time, but it keeps all your data in one location, so it’s more consistent and accurate.
You can use mail merge to combine data from several documents for rosters.
In this tutorial, we’ll create a roster using mail merge in Microsoft Word.

– We’ll create a data source file (database) that holds the content for each member within the roster.
– We’ll create a roster template containing the roster’s layout, mail merge fields and settings.
– We’ll update the data source file when the data changes.
– We’ll re-run the mail merge when data changes.

When we run a mail merge (combine the data in the data source file with the roster template), Word will create an entirely new document, which we’ll use as our roster.

Creating the Data Source File for the Roster

The source file is made up of rows and columns within a table. To create it, let’s insert a table in Microsoft Word.

The rows will hold the record (combined fields or data) for each member on the roster. Each column will store a member’s individual data, such as their first name, last name, address, phone and email.

It helps to create a separate field for the first and last name just in case you’ll need to sort the roster alphabetically.Another tip is to include a field that lets you specify whether or not a member is current. You can use any field name you want. In this example, we’re using yes_current. It’s a handy option if you ever need to reach retired members. You can instruct Word to hide these members during the mail merge.

Insert a table to create a mail merge data source quickly in Word.Step 1. Click “Insert,” “Table” and “Insert Table” to open the Insert Table dialog box.

Enter the number of columns you need and type “1” for the number of rows. You can add more rows as you go. Click “OK” to add the table to your document.

Step 2. Type each field you want to collect in separate columns on the first row, such as First_Name, Last_Name, Address, Phone, Email and Yes_Current.

Word will use the first row as the header row during the mail merge.

Step 3. Press the TAB key in the last column to automatically create a new row.

Step 4. Type the data for the first person into the newly created row, such as “Jane,” “Black,” “123 Tiny Town,” “123-456-7890,” “,” “yes.”

Step 5. Press the TAB key again and add in the data for the next member, repeating this pattern until all the members are added.

Create a data source for roster in Word to save time.

Step 6. Click “File” and “Save” to save the file. Give the source file a descriptive name like “roster_sourcefile.docx,” click “Save” and close the file.

Creating the Roster Template and Performing the Mail Merge

The roster template often includes a heading with the company’s name, group’s name and current year. It also includes a footer with the page number if there are multiple pages.

Step 1. Select the “Insert” tab and go to the “Header & Footer” group. Click “Header” and select the heading style you’d like to use.

Step 2. Type the heading you want to include and format it.

Step 3. Click the “Design” tab under “Header & Footer Tools.” Select “Page Number” in the “Header & Footer” group. Choose “Bottom of Page” and select a page number format from the “Page X of Y” section.

Use the footer to insert page numbers for the roster to save time.

Step 4. Double-click outside the footer to return to the body of your document. Add any additional information and formatting you’d like to include.

Use the step-by-step mail merge wizard to prepare your roster template for mail merge.Step 5. Select the “Mailings” tab and choose “Start Mail Merge” from the “Start Mail Merge” group. Pick “Step by Step Mail Merge Wizard” from the drop-down. This opens the Mail Merge task pane on the right.

Step 6. Select “Directory” in the task pane and click “Next: Starting document.” The directory option displays the merged data on the same page rather than individual pages.

Step 7. Select “Use the current document,” which is the roster template you currently have open. Click “Next: Select recipients.”

Click Browse to find data source file for roster members.Step 8. Select “Use an existing list” and click “Browse.” This opens the Select Data Source dialog box.

Find the “roster-sourcefile.docx” or source file you created for the list and double-click it. The Mail Merge Recipients dialog box opens. There, you can customize which recipients Word pulls during the mail merge.

Use filter to customize which data displays in mail merge.Step 9 (optional). If you set up a special field for current members, you can prevent retired members from displaying by clicking the drop-down arrow beside the field. Select “Yes” or the data representing current members in the data source file. For example, if you the left the field for current members blank, but typed “No”  for retired members, you can choose “(Blanks)” from the drop-down.

Word automatically updates the list to match your filter settings.

Step 10 (optional). To sort the names on the roster alphabetically, click “Sort” at the bottom of the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box. The Query Options dialog box opens to the “Sort Records” tab.

Click the “Sort by” drop-down. Choose your first priority sort field, such as “Last_Name” and select “Ascending.” Click the “Then by” drop-down, choose your second priority sort field, such as “First_Name” and select “Descending.”

Click “OK” to close the Query Options dialog box.

Step 11: Click “OK” to close the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box and return to the task pane. Click “Next: Arrange your directory” and select “More items…” The Insert Merge Field dialog box opens.

Insert the mail merge fields you want to use on the staff roster.Double-click any fields you want to include in the roster, such as First_Name, Last_Name, Address, Phone, Email. However, do not include yes_current.

As you double-click the fields, Word adds them to your page in the background. Click “OK” when you are finished.

Step 12. Return to your page to format the merge fields on the roster exactly how you want them to display.

For example, add a space between «First_Name»«Last_Name» and press “Enter” to move the «Address» field to another line.

Press the TAB key between «Address», «Phone» and «Email».

Double-space after the «Email» field to add some spacing between each record.

Highlight the merge fields and customize the font and font size and set TAB stops to keep the data from shifting unnecessarily.

Step 13. Return to the task pane and click “Next: Preview your directory.” You’ll see a preview of the layout. Double-check you’ve left ample room between each field. If the layout doesn’t look exactly the way you want, click “Previous” to return to the previous step and fix it.

Step 14. Click “Next: Complete the merge.” Click “To New Document.”

Step 15. Pick “All” in the Merge to New Document dialog box and click “OK” to perform the merge. You are automatically directed to a new document that contains the roster with the merged data. Save the document as “roster.doc” or whatever you want to name the roster.

Step 16. Select the roster template that’s hiding in another window in Word and save it too. Give the template a descriptive name, such as “roster_template.”

Saving the roster template is important because it allows you to re-run the roster each time you update the data source file without having to start over.

When you save the template, your sort options and filters are saved with it, so you won’t have to repeat the mail merge steps from the beginning.

Updating the Source File When Members Change

Step 1. To update the data source file at any time, reopen it in Word. In this tutorial, we’re using the file, “roster_datasource.docx.”

Step 2. Add or remove any data that needs to change.

Step 3. Resave the file and close it.

Re-Running the Mail Merge to Update Roster

Step 1. Re-open the roster template file in Word.

If the following pop-up appears, click “Yes” to allow it. It allows Word to place the data from the source file into the template.

Allow Word to place the data source file into document to re-run a mail merge.

Step 2. Select the “Mailings” tab. Go to the “Finish” group and click “Finish & Merge.”

Step 3. Pick “Edit Individual Documents” to load the roster on your screen or “Print Documents” to print the roster right away.

Merge roster data to a new document or print it.

Step 4. Click “OK” in the Merge to New Document dialog box and save the updated roster.

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