Template Tuesday Presents...why it is so important to test print label templates.
First – What Do We Mean By A Test Print?
A test print means printing a document (such as a label template) onto paper to check that the document will print correctly before you produce your final version (such as printing a template onto actual sheets of labels).
A test print should be performed in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as you would go about printing the final version – with the exception that you print onto plain paper rather than onto your (probably much nicer, much more expensive) required print medium.
This will reveal any problems or issues with your document or print settings that would spoil your final version – allowing you to correct these problems and avoid wasting more expensive materials.
Second – Why Is A Test Print So Important When Printing Label Templates?
Even the most carefully constructed template can be ruined by the simple act of printing it out because there are so many different elements involved.
Most people assume that if their template looks okay onscreen, they can simply press print without any further thought. What they don’t realise is just how much stuff happens after they press print…
- Your software sends your template to the print driver in your printer.
- The print driver converts your template into a Page Description Language (so it can be understood by your printer). This is a vector-based language that describes the content and arrangement of a page in the form of a series of geometric lines and shapes defined by mathematical equations.
- This vector-based language is converted into a bitmap image (a rectangular grid of dots or pixels).
- Your printer pulls your sheet of labels into the printer using a set or series of rollers.
- The bitmap image is recreated on the sheet according to the printer’s default set of print settings OR print settings you have manually selected. These settings determine the starting print position, print resolution, and even the way the printer operates.
All of these factors have the potential to influence the quality and accuracy of your printed template. Print accuracy is especially important for label templates, where your template has to align perfectly with your label sheets to ensure that each design is printed in the correct position on each individual label.
A simple test print means you can pick up on any problems (and fix them) before you start printing onto (and therefore wasting) your label sheets.
Third – How Do You Test Print Label Templates?
A test print should be performed in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as your final version…
- Carefully load your paper into your printer. To print labels, you should use the media bypass tray (if your printer has one); this is a secondary tray, usually located just above or below the main paper tray. The tray guides should be positioned carefully and firmly along the edges of your sheets so they will feed into your printer as straight as possible.
- Pick your print settings. Go into Printer Properties / Printing Preferences. The page size must be A4 (297 x 210mm) and no scaling options should be applied (e.g. less than 100% or “Fit to…” options). Make sure your printer will use the settings you are selecting, rather than default settings by turning off settings such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Default/Driver Settings”. Choose an appropriate print media and print weight (they may be grouped together); ideally, you want a specific “Labels” setting but, if your printer doesn’t have one, you can use “Heavy Paper”. You can find the estimated weight of Label Planet products on our Material Specification Sheets.
- Print your test print. Place it behind a sheet of your labels and then (carefully!) hold both up to a light source to check the alignment. If there are any issues, correct your label template and/or your print settings and perform another test print. Repeat this process as needed until you are happy with the alignment and print quality – then load your labels and get printing!
Next Time On Template Tuesday – Troubleshooting Label Templates; Part 1, What Has Gone Wrong With My Template?