Template Tuesday Presents...how picking the perfect print settings improve print quality and alignment.
There are lots of little ways to improve the print quality and alignment you can achieve when printing label templates, simply by being precise and selective with the print settings you pick.
Why Are Print Settings So Important When Printing Label Templates?
You might assume that whatever your label template looks like on your computer screen, that is what it will look like when you press print. This, however, is not always the case.
When printing label templates, a number of steps take place:
- Your software sends your label template to another piece of software called the printer driver.
- The printer driver converts your label template into a language that your printer can understand. This is a Page Description Language; it describes the content and layout of your template in the form of a series of geometric lines and shapes that are defined by mathematical equations.
- This description of your label template is then converted into a bitmap image; a rectangular grid made up of pixels (picture elements or dots).
- Your printer then recreates this bitmap image on your sticky labels. It uses the print settings that you have selected (or else the default settings stored in the printer driver).
This means that the alignment and quality of the label template on your screen can be significantly altered during the printing process. These alterations often depend on the print settings you have (or haven’t) taken the time to select.
Which Print Settings Should I Look Out For When Printing Label Templates?
There are a number of print settings to look out for when printing label templates (or even test printing label templates!).
Printing Label Templates & Page Size
You must select a page size of A4 or you will not get the correct alignment. Some printers store the page size used for the previous print job. All printers may default at times to settings stored in the print driver. The default page size may not be A4. Some drivers default to the American page size standard known as American Letter – or Letter.
Printing Label Templates & Media Type/Weight
You also need to select a print setting that is appropriate for self adhesive labels. Sticky labels and standard sheets of paper are two very different print media. For a start, self adhesive labels are much thicker. They are also made of a wide range of materials (including special coatings and finishes), which can influence the quality of your print. To ensure the highest possible print quality, you need to select a print setting designed for printing onto different materials.
This is because media type/weight settings alter how your printer works to ensure your print is always applied as efficiently as possible. Laser printers run more slowly and increase the heat applied during printing. Inkjet printers will also alter the dispersal of inks and slow down to ensure that your print is perfect.
Some printers separate media type (e.g. paper, labels, envelopes etc) and media weight (usually expressed as grammage – or gsm), while others lump them together. Ideally, you should use a specific “Labels” setting, along with a weight that matches your sticky labels.
Our Material Specification Sheets include the weight of each of our products; these can be found on each range page or by visiting our List Of Material Specification Sheets page.
Alternatively, you should opt for a “Heavy Paper” setting or the most suitable option available. Some manufacturers provide guidance in the printer’s manual on the best print settings to use for specific print media.
Printing Label Templates & (Printer) Resolution
Your printer’s resolution refers to the amount of detail that your printer can reproduce in a given area. A higher printer resolution means that your printer can include more detail, which is needed to accurately reproduce high resolution artwork.
Regardless of the level of printer resolution your printer can achieve, most printers default to a lower printer resolution. This is because basic day-to-day print jobs do not require a high printer resolution. A basic resolution of 300 x 300 dpi (dots of ink/toner per inch) is good enough for standard documents.
If you want to print images or high resolution digital artwork or photography onto your sticky labels, you will need to select a higher level of printer resolution. These may be referred to in a number format (e.g. 300 x 300 dpi/300 dpi) or with a descriptive title (e.g. “Good”). 300 dpi is usually “Normal” or “Good”, 600 dpi is “High”, while 1200 dpi (capable of reproducing high resolution digital photographs) is “Best” or “Photo”.
Printing Label Templates & Scaling
Never use scaling options when printing label templates. This includes any percentage less than 100% or “Fit To” options, such as Fit to Page and Fit to Sheet. If you have an “Actual Size” option, use it to help prevent scaling problems.
Printing Label Templates & Edge-To-Edge “Borderless” Printing
If your self adhesive labels sit very close to or at the edges of your A4 sheets, you may need to turn on your printer’s edge-to-edge printing feature – if it has this option. Most standard desktop printers cannot print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet. This creates an “unprintable” border around the edges of your self adhesive labels where your printer cannot reach. If your design falls into this area, you will need to turn on your printer’s “edge-to-edge” function, which allows it to print the full area of an A4 sheet. If your printer doesn’t offer this function, you will need to adjust your design to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the areas on your A4 sheets of sticky labels that your printer cannot print.
Printing Label Templates & Default Settings
Some printers will also have options called “Ignore Printer Settings” / “Use Default Settings” / “Use Driver Settings”. These should NOT be selected as they will instruct your printer to ignore your carefully chosen print settings in favour of the default settings stored in the printer driver.
Next Week On Template Tuesday: Definition – What Is A Printer Driver & Why Are They So Important For Printing Label Templates?