Template Tuesday Presents...how to fix your troublesome templates.
We’ve reached the final instalment of our three part series on Troubleshooting Label Templates. So far, we’ve covered how to identify what has gone wrong (the effect) and why (the cause); this week’s Template Tuesday will (hopefully) explain how to fix your troublesome templates.
Troubleshooting Label Templates – Before You Print
Here’s how to go about troubleshooting label templates that are problematic before you press print.
Unable to open a label template…
Check if your software can read the file format of your label template. Some software lists compatible file formats; alternatively, you should be able to find this information on the software developer’s / supplier’s website.
The file format of the template should be listed by the supplier. Alternatively, use your device’s file manager to check the file extension of your template. For Windows systems, open Windows Explorer / File Explore, locate your saved template, right click on it and select “Properties”. The file extension is listed under the General Tab. For MacOS, open Finder, locate your saved template, “right” click (hold the Control key as you click) on it, and select “Get Info”. The file extension is listed under “Name & Extension”.
If your software cannot read the file format of your template, you will either need to use different software or find a template that your software can read.
If it seems like the template has been corrupted during the download process or something has gone wrong while it was being opened, try downloading the template again. During this process, you may be asked if you want to open or save the template; we recommend choosing save. You should then open your software and use the File > Open menu option to locate and open your saved file.
Unable to edit a label template…
Check if your software can edit the file format of your label template as outlined above.
If your template has been locked for security reasons, select the option to unlock the document for editing.
Word label templates don’t show the (correct) outline of each label…
If you can’t see ANY outlines, you need to turn Table Gridlines on. Click once anywhere in the middle of the template to bring up the Table Tools tabs at the top of the page. Click on the Table Tools “Layout” tab and click “View Gridlines”.
If you want to be able to see the exact shape of your labels, you will need to use a different type of label template, such as a PDF template (designed for use with graphics packages like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign), which shows the exact outline of each label.
Word label templates split onto two pages…
- If you have accidentally added a line (or lines) above your template, move your cursor to the top of the page and (left) click once. Use the delete key on your keyboard to remove the additional lines.
- Make sure that your content is the correct size before adding it to your template. A simple tip is to paste your content into a blank Word document first, resize it as needed, and then paste it into your template. If Word does alter the size of your template, you will need to remove/resize/format your content and correct the measurements of your template (using the Table Tools “Layout” tab).
- If your software cannot reconstruct the table measurements accurately, you will need to use different software / find a different template OR adjust the template manually. For example, if your software cannot represent narrow gaps between your labels, you could remove the blanks rows representing the gaps and increase the height of the rows representing the labels (so these rows account for the gaps AND the labels). This creates a slightly less accurate form of template BUT one that can still be used to print a set of labels (as long as you take extra care).
Unable to position images / shapes / text boxes in Word label templates
Change the Wrap Text formatting applied to your image, shape, or text box. Click on an item to select it and bring up the “Format” tab at the top of the page – “Picture Tools” for images and “Drawing Tools” for shapes, text boxes, and WordArt. Click on Wrap Text and choose “Tight”; if this doesn’t give you the control you need, try “In Front Of Text” as an alternative.
Word label templates automatically resize after adding content
As mentioned above, you should try to ensure that content is the correct size (or near enough) before adding it to your template. If Word adjusts the size of your template, you will need to remove/resize/format your content (so it cannot cause further problems) and then correct the measurements of your template.
Troubleshooting Label Templates – After You Print
Here’s how to go about troubleshooting label templates that are problematic before you press print.
Printing labels requires more specialised print settings – especially those relating to “Media Type” and “Media Weight”. These can be found by selecting “Printer Properties” or “Printing Preferences” before you print and may be listed individually or as one combined “Media” option. If they are separate, set Media Type to “Labels”. If your printer doesn’t have this option, try “Heavy Paper”. Media Weight usually lists bands under general descriptions, such as “Heavy (105-120gsm)”. Choose the one that best fits your labels; you should be able to get the weight from the label manufacturer / supplier. At Label Planet, we list this information on our Material Specification Sheets.
You should also check if the label manufacturer / supplier has any recommendations as to the print settings you should use. For example, our SMP and SVP labels should be printed with a standard “Paper” setting, rather than a “Labels” setting to get the best possible print quality.
Before doing any printing, you should also confirm that you have purchased inkjet labels (for an inkjet printer) or laser labels (for a laser printer). This information should be included with your labels; at Label Planet, this information is listed on all of our packaging as well as on our website.
To correct alignment issues caused by scaling options, go into “Printer Properties” or “Printing Preferences”, and set the page size to A4 (297mm x 210mm) and make sure that all scaling options are turned off. This includes a percentage of less than 100% and any options that begin “Fit to…”. If you have an option called “Actual Size”, make sure it is being used.
To correct alignment issues caused by your printer’s starting print position you can EITHER adjust your printer’s starting print position OR adjust the page margins of your template. Some printers allow you to change the starting print position using “Printer Properties” / “Printing Preferences”, while others require this to be adjusted using the menu screen built into your printer. Some printers will not allow you to change the starting print position at all.
- If your designs are too high, you must lower the starting print position or increase the top page margin.
- If your designs are too low, you must raise the starting print position or decrease the top page margin.
- For designs that sit too far left, you must move the print position to the right or increase the left page margin.
- For designs that sit too far right, you must move the print position to the left or decrease the left page margin.
NB: if you change the top and/or left page margins of your template, you may also need to change the bottom and/or right page margins – although this is not always necessary.
You should also double check the measurements of your label template AND your label sheets to ensure that they are both correct (and, more importantly, the same as one another!).
To fix absent print in the unprintable area of your printer, you can either:
- Enable features such as “Borderless Printing” or “Edge-to-edge Printing”, which allow your printer to print the full area of an A4 sheet. Check your printer’s specifications to see if it has these features.
- Change your design so it doesn’t use the unprintable area. You only need to adjust designs that use the unprintable area unless you want identical labels, in which case you must adjust all your designs.
Top Tip: you may be able to find the unprintable area of your printer in the manual. Alternatively, create an A4 document with no page margins, fill the page with a coloured background (use a light colour to avoid wasting ink/toner!), and print it. The unprintable area will remain blank.
Some designs are harder to align than others – especially those with elements at the edges of your labels (like borders or coloured backgrounds). We recommend avoiding borders; if this isn’t possible, borders should be as thick as possible and overlap the edges. Coloured backgrounds should also be oversized to overlap the edges. If your labels don’t have gaps between them, your borders or backgrounds must use a single colour so they can overlap onto adjacent labels without the overlap being visible.
To fix absent print in specific areas of your design, look at how you have layered your design. The template itself must be the background layer with your design elements layered correctly to create your final design. Pay close attention to the edges of each element (where they are most likely to overlap) and check that they have a transparent background (e.g. “No Fill”) rather than a white background. White backgrounds block out anything beneath them, while transparent backgrounds allow other elements to show through.
How To Avoid Troubleshooting Label Templates At All
Of course, you can also take preventative measures to ensure that your label templates don’t turn troublesome – by making a few small preparations before you start…
- Double check that you have received the correct labels and that they are the right size and layout.
- Make sure that your template matches the size and layout of your labels.
- Check that your software can read and edit the file format of your label template and that it is suitable for designing and printing labels (a useful tip is to check if it has any tools that refer specifically to labels as this is generally a good start!).
- Take a look at your printer’s specifications to check that it is suitable for printing labels. Before printing, go through your printer’s properties to ensure that you are using the right print settings to print labels AND DO A TEST PRINT FIRST!
Next Week On Template Tuesday: Christmas Tips – Use A Mail Merge To Check Christmas Address Labels Off Your List As Quickly As You Can!