Last week’s troubleshooting label templates post was all about identifying what has gone wrong (the effect). This week, we’re moving onto the next step of troubleshooting label templates and looking at WHY your label templates may have gone wrong (the cause).
The Possible Causes Behind Troublesome Label Templates
Generally speaking, label templates go wrong because there are so many different factors involved. Each factor has to work correctly by itself and work together with other factors to ensure that your labels print perfectly. So, what are these factors and how do they cause problems?
- LABELS: must be the correct size and layout. Like all products, labels are manufactured to a tolerance (an allowable deviation from the stated specification), which can lead to minor differences between label templates and the labels being printed (resulting in minor misalignments). However, manufacturing and packing errors can result in major misalignments as you’ll end up trying to print a template onto labels that are simply the wrong size.
- LABEL TEMPLATES: must be compatible with your labels (i.e. must represent the size and layout of your labels correctly).
- SOFTWARE: must be capable of accurately displaying AND editing label templates. You also need to be able to add your design accurately to each label.
- PRINTERS: to print labels, you need a printer that is capable of printing labels, is set up with the correct print settings, and has an up to date print driver installed.
Troubleshooting Label Templates – Problems Before You Print
Last week, we listed the most common problems experienced by our customers BEFORE they’ve printed their label templates. Here are the (possible) causes for these particular problems – and the things you may need to fix when troubleshooting label templates.
Unable to open a label template…
Standalone label templates are individual files that must be opened using software. These files are saved in a specific file format (i.e. a particular way of encoding data for storage in a digital file). To open a standalone file, you need to use software that can read (display) that file format. For example, Label Planet templates are supplied in .docx and .pdf file formats. The .docx templates must be opened with word processing software such as Word, Word For Mac, Pages etc and the .pdf templates must be opened with graphics software such as Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop etc.
Alternatively, the file may have been corrupted during the download process or something may have gone wrong while the file was being opened.
Unable to edit a label template…
There are two main reasons why you may be unable to edit a file.
We mentioned above that your software must be able to read the file format of your template in order to open it properly. In order to change that template, your software must also be able to edit that file format. Some software can read but not edit certain file formats; for example, Adobe Reader can read (display) the .pdf file format but cannot edit (change) it.
The second reason relates to downloaded files; many devices temporarily lock files downloaded from the internet for security reasons. You should be presented with a warning message and an option to unlock the document for editing. For example, Word displays a yellow banner, which contains an “Enable Editing” button.
Word label templates don’t show the (correct) outline of each label…
Two issues could be at play here, both related to the way Word templates are made. Word templates are basically Word documents containing a table, where the table cells represent labels on an A4 sheet (and any gaps between them).
- If you can’t see ANY outlines then Table Gridlines are turned OFF.
- If the outlines don’t show the exact shape of your labels (e.g. rounded corners or the shape of round labels and oval labels) then, unfortunately, this is simply part of using Word templates. As Word templates are constructed using tables, they can only represent labels as a series of squares and/or rectangles made up of straight lines and so cannot show rounded corners or shaping. In templates for round labels and oval labels, each label fits inside a square or rectangular cell in the template (so its outermost points touch each of the four sides of the cell).
Word label templates split onto two pages…
Word label templates should only take up one page. If you open a Word template and it splits over two pages (or if it splits while you are adding your designs), there are a number of potential reasons for this…
- You have accidentally added a line (or lines) at the top of the template, which has pushed the bottom row(s) of labels onto the next page. Move the cursor to the top of the page and (left) click once; if you see a flashing text cursor sitting above your template, you have added an extra line.
- Your content is larger than your labels and Word has “helpfully” resized your template to allow your content to fit.
- Your software is unable to reconstruct the table measurements. For example, Word can create table rows with a minimum height of 0.4mm, while Pages has a minimum of around 2.8mm. If you use Pages to open a Word template that contains rows of less than 2.8mm, Pages will increase the height of those rows to 2.8mm, increasing the overall height of your template and pushing the bottom row(s) onto a second page.
Unable to position images / shapes / text boxes in Word label templates
If images, shapes, and/or text boxes won’t stay where you move them, they are probably set to the default Wrap Text option. As word processing software, Word prioritises text over everything else and its default Wrap Text option (“In Line With Text”) only allows objects to be positioned relative to the default line of text that Word also inserts – whether you actually want to include any text in your template or not.
Word label templates automatically resize after adding content
Word often tries to be “helpful” by automatically resizing tables to fit the content you add. This will destroy the alignment of your template, generally rendering it useless when it comes to printing your designs onto your labels.
Troubleshooting Label Templates – Problems After You Print
We also listed some of the most common problems experienced AFTER printing label templates. Here are the (possible) causes for these particular problems.
Poor print quality is most commonly caused by incorrect print settings. Labels are a very different print medium to paper and require specific print settings. Incompatibility between label materials and printers can also cause poor print quality. Some labels are intended for laser printing only or inkjet printing only and are made with materials that suit one particular printing method. For example, laser printers bond toner onto surfaces using heat and so laser labels have a higher moisture content to protect materials during printing. Likewise, inkjet labels are often slightly absorbent to help ensure that inkjet inks dry more accurately. If you try to print inkjet labels with a laser printer or laser labels with an inkjet printer, you will find that the print quality is extremely poor.
Most alignment issues are caused by incorrect printer settings, especially scaling options and starting print positions. Scaling options cause printers to print templates onto a page size larger or smaller than A4, which results in the alignment getting worse down/across/out from the centre of the page. The starting print position determines where on an A4 sheet your printer begins printing from and, if this is incorrect, your designs will be misaligned in the same direction by the same amount.
Templates that use the wrong size and layout can also create alignment problems, as can label manufacturing / picking issues (as you will be trying to print your template onto labels that are the wrong size or using a different layout).
Absent print is usually caused by printer limitations or issues with how your design has been added to your template.
Most desktop printers cannot print the full area of an A4 sheet; the strip around the edges that a printer cannot print is known as the unprintable area. Any part of your labels (or your label designs) that fall into this area will be left unprinted.
Desktop printers are also limited to how accurate they can be (to within a few mm). If your design features elements at the edges of your labels (like borders and coloured backgrounds), you may find that any slight misalignment results in white edging – where part of the edge(s) of a label (or labels) is unprinted due to the misalignment of your design with your label.
Word prioritises text over everything else, which means that text-based elements in label templates can be placed above other parts of your design. This can lead to parts of your design being blanked out, resulting in absent print.
Next Week On Template Tuesday: Troubleshooting Label Templates; Part 3, How Do I Fix My Template?