The Template Tuesday Guide To…Template Tuesdays Past (It’s Our 2019 Label Templates Round Up Post!)

December 17th, 2019

Yes, it is the final Template Tuesday of 2019 and we’re rounding things off with our traditional round up post! Here you’ll find links to all of the posts about label templates we’ve featured over the last twelve months – as an early Christmas gift to all of our Template Tuesday readers!

Christmas labels from Label Planet

Template Tuesday Round Up – 2019 Label Templates Edition

January 2019
The FOUR Things You Need To Design & Print Labels
Finding Everything You Need On Our Website
Benefits & Drawbacks Of Different Shapes & Sizes
February 2019
What Software Do You Need To Print Labels?
What Are Label Templates?
Different Types Of Templates
The Measurements Of Label Templates
March 2019
Creating Templates In Word
Are Your Software & Templates Compatible?
What Are Avery Codes, Compatible Labels, & Built-In Templates?
Find Avery Template Codes For Label Planet Labels
April 2019
Label Templates From Label Planet
Choosing The Right Template
Downloading Templates From Our Website
Opening Label Templates & Avoiding Compatibility Problems
May 2019
Templates That Are Trouble From The Start!
Sketch Your Design First
Design Tools In Word
Create Word Designs Using Plain Text
June 2019
Create Word Designs Using Text Boxes & WordArt
Benefits & Drawbacks Of Plain Text, Text Boxes, & WordArt
July 2019
Create Word Designs Using Images & Shapes
Working With Images In Word
How (& Why) To Use Central Alignment
Design From The Background Forward
August 2019
Layering Items In Word
How (& Why) To Take Care With Label Edges
Using Bleed Templates For Coloured Backgrounds & Borders
Creating Mirrored Word Templates For Window Stickers
September 2019
Copy & Paste – Tools To Make Your Templates A Triumph!
Selecting Individual Or Groups Of Items
How To Paste Copied Items Into Word Templates
How To Use Copy & Paste To Complete Templates
October 2019
Using Word’s Mail Merge Wizard For Address Labels 
Picking The Perfect Printer
Set Up Your Printer Correctly To Get The Perfect Print
How & Why You Should Always Test Print Templates FIRST
November 2019
Troubleshooting 1; What’s Wrong With My Template?
Troubleshooting 2; Why Has My Template Gone Wrong?
Troubleshooting 3; How Do I Fix My Template?
Get Your Christmas Address Labels Done & Dusted
December 2019
Take The Chaos Out Of Christmas Labels
Creating Festive Stickers & Gift Tags

 

A Happy Christmas From Label Planet

That’s all folks!
The Label Planet office will close at 5pm on Friday 20th December and will re-open at 9am on Thursday 2nd January 2020!

We’ll be back with even more Template Tuesday posts to help you design and print your own templates – whether you’re a beginner or a pro. If there are any topics that you’d like to see us cover in a Template Tuesday post, simply send us an email and we’ll see what we can do!

Have a terrific non-template Tuesday & a wonderful Wednesday full of Christmas cheer (and absolutely, positively no labels or templates whatsoever).

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year.

See You In 2020!

How To Get Crafty This Christmas & Create Your Own Festive Stickers & Gift Tags

December 10th, 2019

Lots of people like to get crafty for Christmas with home-made gifts, cards, and decorations to bring a truly personal touch to all their festivities. Here are our top tips for getting crafty with Christmas labels.

Christmas labels from Label Planet

Christmas Labels – Create All Of The Christmas Crafts!

There are plenty of ways to use labels at Christmas – and our customers have certainly come up with some creative craft projects for their Label Planet labels. Along with more traditional applications (like address labels, product labels, and gift tags), our Christmas labels have been used as:

  •  Playing pieces in homemade Christmas board games and card games, “Who Am I” cards, seasonal variations of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, and scavenger hunt clues.
  • Stick on Christmas hats and accessories for parties – like name badges!
  • Christmas decorations and homemade Advent calendars.
  • Labels for homemade food and drink.
  • Elements in personalised presents, including homemade photo albums, calendars, and a family tree.
  • Table place holders for Christmas parties big and small.
  • Badges for Christmas competitions, tournaments, and pub quizzes.
  • Labels for Christmas fairs and exhibitions.

Christmas Labels – Pick The Perfect Material For A Festive Finish!

We’ve got a wide range of label sizes and materials with some fantastic options for the perfect festive finish!

  • Coloured labels: instantly create a decorative background with coloured labels. We’ve got metallic gold and silver for a luxurious festive feel, brown Kraft paper for a natural homemade finish, pretty pastels for a subtle blush of colour, and fabulous fluorescents for a bright burst of colour!
  • Premium quality paper labels: our MPQ labels have a super smooth, bright white surface, which creates top quality print results especially when printing high resolution artwork or photographs.
  • Gloss labels: add a touch of seasonal shimmer with our glossy paper labels.
  • Transparent labels: the perfect addition if you’re labelling items with a festive finish all of their own. Avoid plastering labels over your festive designs and avoid the nightmare of colour matching by choose a transparent label instead.

Christmas Labels – Top Tips For The Festive Season

Whatever Christmas crafting you decide to take on this year, here are a few top tips that can help you to perfect your projects!

  • Keep things simple! Don’t take on more than you can do and don’t make things overly complicated for yourself.
  • Round labels and oval labels might look nicer but they’re more difficult to print properly.
  • Design software might let you do more but you might find that you have more success with more familiar software (like Word).
  • If you’re using Word, remember that it is a word processor and will always prioritise text over any other elements that you add. If you want to use images or shapes, make the most of the Picture Tools and Drawing Tools format tabs (select your image or shape to bring up the additional formatting tab at the top of the page). If nothing else, change the Wrap Text option to “Tight” to give yourself more control over where you can position different elements.
  • Avoid complicated designs and take care around the edges of your labels where any slight misalignment will look more obvious. Avoid borders if you can (oversize them if you can’t) and oversize coloured background (colour match the edges if your labels don’t have gaps all the way around). Remember that centralised designs are easier to align!
  • Use copy and paste! If your labels use the same (or similar) designs, add your design to the first label and then copy and paste it into the rest of your labels to complete your template more quickly and accurately.
  • Go through your printer’s print settings BEFORE you print and make sure that all of the settings are suitable.
  • DO A TEST PRINT ONTO PAPER FIRST!!!!!

More Tips & Tricks From Label Planet

We’ve put together a range of tips and advices pages, which are handily grouped together in our HELP section. You’ll find guides to designing and printing your own labels, troubleshooting tips, helpful hints, and, of course, label templates that are free to download. If you run into a particular problem, remember you can always get in touch with our Customer Service Team for one-to-one advice.

Of course, our top tip for chaos-free Christmas labels is to ORDER EARLY so you have plenty of time to get creative.

Remember you need to leave time for your labels to arrive, to design your label template, to print your label template, and to get your Christmas labels applied in plenty of time for Christmas.

Royal Mail’s first class service is less reliable in December and can take several days to arrive. If you need your labels urgently, we recommend upgrading to Special Delivery. Delivery times for larger quantities of labels (500 sheet boxes) may also be longer at this time of year.

So head on over to our homepage to get your Christmas labels ordered now!

Troubleshooting Tips To Take The Chaos Out Of Creating Christmas Labels

December 3rd, 2019

Here are our top tips to help you create your own Christmas labels with as little chaos as possible!

troubleshooting tips for christmas labels

Christmas Labels – Pick Labels That Are Practical & Pretty

Choosing the right label size and material will get you off to a cracker of a start!

  • Matt white paper labels are cheapest and most readily available. If you need to save money, time, or just want to keep things simple, paper labels are the way to go!
  • For a little more luxury, try premium quality paper labels (perfect for high resolution artwork) or photo gloss paper labels (for a touch of seasonal shimmer).
  • Coloured labels are a super way to create decorative Christmas labels without resorting to more complicated designs. Gold labels and silver labels give a great festive finish, while brown Kraft labels create a natural, home-made finish. Add a bright burst of colour with fluorescent labels or a subtle bloom of colour with pastel labels.
  • If you’re labelling decorative surfaces, transparent labels are a perfect way to side-step colour-matching issues and avoid covering up existing designs.
  • Shaped labels (e.g. round labels and oval labels) have a more decorative appearance BUT are trickier to print than rectangle labels and square labels.
  • Pick a size that is “just right”; too big and your Christmas labels will take up too much room BUT too small and you’ll end up with messy, cluttered Christmas labels that are difficult to read.
  • Type up your text and/or sketch out your design to get a rough idea of how much room you need. Grab a ruler and measure how much space is available on the item(s) you need to label. Put the two together to find a suitable size!
  • Standard label sizes will be more readily available so you may need to be flexible with your sizing to avoid the costs and lead-times involved in having bespoke labels made to order.

Christmas Labels – Avoid Troublesome Templates & Disastrous Designs

Choosing the right template and keeping your design simple is a must for the chaos-free creation of Christmas labels.

  • Standalone templates need to be opened with compatible software. Label Planet supplies Word templates for use with word processing software like Word, Word For Mac, and Pages, and PDF templates for graphics software like Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.
  • Word templates cannot show any shaping such as radius (curved) corners or the outline of round labels / oval labels.
  • Use software that is familiar to you and don’t waste time struggling with software and templates that you don’t know how to use!
  • Use a mail merge to create Christmas address labels.
  • Keep your design simple; this creates clutter-free Christmas labels in a fraction of the time!
  • Avoid borders, which emphasise any misalignment when you print. Alternatively, make your border as big as possible so it safely overlaps the edges of your labels.
  • Oversize coloured backgrounds to avoid “white edging” – where slightly misaligned designs leave blank areas at the edges of your labels. This technique works best if there are gaps all the way around your labels. If your labels touch along one or more edges, you need to make sure the colour matches along each edge to hide the overlap.
  • Centralise your design to make it easier to get a great alignment when you print. For alternative alignments (e.g. left aligned address labels), take care with where your design starts and finishes at the edges of your labels.
  • To create identical (or similar) labels, add your design to the top left label and use copy and paste to complete your template more quickly and accurately compared to creating your design from scratch in each individual label.

Christmas Labels – Prepare For Printing Carefully

Most template problems occur at the point of printing. Follow these simple steps to get the best possible print on your Christmas labels.

  • Fan your sheets to remove static build up and load them neatly into the media bypass tray (if your printer has one). This tray is usually located just above or below the main paper tray and is designed for thicker print media (like labels) and offers a straighter path through the printer (improving print alignment).
  • Go into Printer Properties / Printing Preferences: select an A4 page size, a suitable media type/weight (e.g. Labels/Heavy Paper), turn off scaling options (e.g. less than 100% and “Fit to…” options), and set your printer to use manual rather than default print settings (e.g. turn off “Ignore Printer Settings” and “Use Default/Driver Settings”).
  • Do a test print! Set up your printer exactly as you would to print onto labels BUT load a sheet of paper instead. Hold your test print against your labels and (carefully) hold both up to a light source to check the alignment.
  • If your labels are all misaligned in the SAME direction by the SAME amount, alter the page margins of your template. Or, if your designs are too high or low, increase or decrease the top page margin. If they are too far left or right, increase or decrease the left page margin.
  • If the alignment gets progressively worse down/across/out from the centre, you either have a scaling problem (check your print settings as above) OR there may be an issue with your template (double check its measurements).

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Christmas Tips – How To Get Crafty This Christmas & Create Your Own Festive Stickers & Gift Tags

How To Get Your Christmas Address Labels Done & Dusted!

November 26th, 2019

It’s Label Planet’s annual Christmas Mail Merge Post! If you want to print address labels for your Christmas cards, here’s our quick fire guide to Word’s Mail Merge Wizard to help you get Christmas labels checked off your list now!

always test print label templates

Before You Start – Things You’ll Need To Create Christmas Address Labels

  1. Labels!
    If you are ordering labels online, order early to avoid postal delays.
  2. Addresses!
    Get your address list typed up and saved so it’s ready to merge! A spreadsheet is simplest but you can also use a contact list from Outlook, address list from Office, Word data file, Access database, or text file.
  3. A Label Template!
    It’s easiest to use a built in Avery template; check with your label supplier for the code you need to use. Alternatively, download and save a suitable Word label template or make a list of your label’s measurements so you can make a template yourself. You will need to know: page size, page margins, labels per row and column, label width and height, and the vertical and horizontal pitches (which account for gaps between the rows and columns as follows: label width + gap width = HP / label height + gap height = VP).

These three things will allow you to create Christmas address labels by setting up a design in a label template, merging that template with your address list, and printing your merged designs onto your labels – so that each recipient on your list ends up with an address label of their own.

Christmas Address Labels – Why The Mail Merge Wizard Works Wonders

We recommend the wizard because it guides you through the six steps of a mail merge in a simple and clear manner. This makes it simpler to identify any issues that occur and prevents you from accidentally missing a step out.

To start the Mail Merge Wizard, open Word and create a new blank document. Click on the Mailings tab at the top of the page; click on Start Mail Merge and select Step By Step Mail Merge Wizard. This opens the Mail Merge panel on the right hand side of your screen. Simply follow the instructions in the panel to complete your mail merge.

The Six Steps Of Creating Christmas Address Labels With Word’s Mail Merge Wizard

For The First Step Of Mail Merge, Here’s What You Need To Do…

SELECT YOUR DOCUMENT TYPE
To create Christmas address labels, you need to select Labels from the list of options.

For The Second Step Of Mail Merge, Here’s What You Need To Do…

PICK YOUR TEMPLATE
Your starting document is your label template…

  • Built-in Avery Label Templates: select “Change document layout” and click on “Label options”. Set printer information to “Page printers” and label information/vendor to “Avery A4/A5” (or Zweckform if applicable). Find your Avery code and click OK. Tip: click on any code and type the first letter/number of your code to jump down the list.
  • Create Label Templates: select “Change document layout” and click on “Label options”. Select “New Label” to bring up the “Label Details” box; enter your measurements and click OK. Tip: use this order; page size, no. of labels, label width and height, vertical and horizontal pitch, and page margins. If Word rejects your measurements, set the page margins to 0mm and then follow the order above, finishing with the correct page margins.
  • Saved Label Templates: select “Start from existing document”, browse to your saved template, and click Open.

For The Third Step Of Mail Merge, Here’s What You Need To Do…

PICK YOUR LIST (Of addresses)
Click on “Use an existing list”, find your saved file, and click Open.

If your file has multiple sections (e.g. a spreadsheet with multiple sheets), you will need to indicate which section holds your addresses. You will also need to indicate if your file contains column headers (e.g. “Name”, “Postcode” etc).

You will then be shown a list of the addresses pulled from your file. You can sort, filter, and exclude these addresses as needed. Once you are happy with your list, click “OK”. A <<NextRecord>> rule placeholder will be added to every label in your template EXCEPT the first one – unless you have used a saved label template.

With saved label templates, you have to add the Next Record Rule manually. Click inside the second label in your template. Find the “Rules” option in the Mailings tab and select “Next Record”. To add the rule to the rest of your template, repeat this process or copy the first rule and paste it into the remaining labels (but NOT the first one!).

For The Fourth Step Of Mail Merge, Here’s What You Need To Do…

ADD YOUR DESIGN
Use placeholders to add information from your address list into your design. These can be added individually using “Insert Merge Field” in the Mailings tab or in predefined groups using the Wizard panel options.

Address Block is ideal for Christmas address labels; use “Match Fields” to match your addresses to the address block correctly.

In addition to your placeholders, you can also add festive greetings, images, photos, background, and/or borders. To use the same design for every label, add it to the first label only and then use the “Update All Labels” button in the Wizard panel to add it to the rest of your labels.

This button is not available for saved label templates and you will need to use copy and paste to manually complete your template. Make sure the Next Record rule is included in all but the first label; you will either need to add this rule after completing your template OR include it in the first label, use copy and paste to complete your template, and then delete the rule from the first label.

TOP TIPS:

  • The Next Record rule must come BEFORE/ABOVE all of the placeholders in your design to ensure that each label is populated with the right information.
  • Your design must account for the fact that your placeholders may take up MORE or LESS room than the information they represent.

For The Fifth Step Of Mail Merge, Here’s What You Need To Do…

CHECK THE PREVIEW
Review how well (or not) your addresses merge with your template. The preview shows one page of merged addresses but you can scroll through as many of your addresses as you like. We recommend finding the LONGEST address in your list and checking how this address fits into your label design.

If your design doesn’t work, go back a step and adjust it. Remember, you only need to change the first label as the “Update All Labels” button will apply your changes to the rest of your template for you (unless you are using a saved template).

Alternatively, if you’re only having trouble with a couple of really long (or really short) addresses, you can always go back to step three to edit the addresses themselves, rather than spending time adjusting your design for the sake of a handful of troublesome addresses.

For The Sixth Step Of Mail Merge, Here’s What You Need To Do…

COMPLETE THE MAIL MERGE
The sixth step completes the merge of your template and your addresses to create a complete set of Christmas address labels.

How To Print Your Christmas Address Labels

Once you’ve completed the mail merge, the best thing to do is a quick test print of one page of your Christmas address labels.

Click on “Print” and select “From / To”; enter values that represent the number of addresses that will fit on one page of your labels. For example, if you have 21 address labels per sheet, set “From” as 1 and “To” as 21.

Load a sheet of paper into the media bypass tray of your printer (if it has one). Go into “Printer Properties” or “Printing Preferences” and select a “Labels” or “Heavy Paper” print setting, make sure the page size is A4, and check that no scaling options are applied (e.g. less than 100% or anything starting “Fit to…”). Print out your test print and then hold it against a sheet of your address labels and carefully hold both up to a light source to check the alignment.

This allows you to check for any alignment issues (and make any necessary adjustments) before you print your full set of Christmas address labels – so you don’t end up wasting any of your label sheets.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Troubleshooting Tips To Take The Chaos Out Of Creating Christmas Labels

Troubleshooting Label Templates; Part 3, How Do I Fix My Template?

November 19th, 2019
types of label templates made by label planet

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

Print Quality

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.

Print Alignment

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!).

Absent Print

To fix absent print in the unprintable area of your printer, you can either:

  1. 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.
  2. 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…

  1. Double check that you have received the correct labels and that they are the right size and layout.
  2. Make sure that your template matches the size and layout of your labels.
  3. 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!).
  4. 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!

Troubleshooting Label Templates; Part 2, Why Has My Template Gone Wrong?

November 12th, 2019
types of label templates made by label planet

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…

  1. 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.
  2. Your content is larger than your labels and Word has “helpfully” resized your template to allow your content to fit.
  3. 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.

Print Quality

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.

Print Alignment

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

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?

Troubleshooting Label Templates; Part 1, What Has Gone Wrong With My Template?

November 5th, 2019
types of label templates made by label planet

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be taking you through the process of troubleshooting label templates. This week, we’re starting with a closer look at the different ways that templates can go wrong.

When templates “go wrong”, there is usually a specific cause and effect happening. Our “Troubleshooting Label Templates” series should help you to identify the effect, determine the cause, and apply the relevant fix.

For many people, designing and printing label templates is not something that they are familiar with so, when something goes wrong, it can feel like a major disaster. Some people spend hours trying different things to fix the problem, others give up, while some decide that the template isn’t working because it is “wrong” – often without making an attempt to work out what is wrong.

At Label Planet, we have carefully created our own set of label templates for customers to use – and each one has been thoroughly tested to ensure that it can produce a set of perfectly printed labels. However, because there are so many elements involved in printing labels, there are plenty of factors that can introduce problems and turn your template troublesome.

So, the first thing you need to do is identify the effect – i.e. what has gone wrong with your template.

Troubleshooting Label Templates – Troubles Before You Print

Sometimes label templates can be troublesome from the start. While there are a variety of problems that can occur, we find the following to be the most commonly reported by Label Planet customers:

  • Unable to open a label template
  • Unable to edit a label template
  • Word label templates don’t show the (correct) outline of each label
  • Word label templates split onto two pages
  • Unable to position images / shapes / text boxes in Word label templates
  • Word label templates automatically resize after adding content

Troubleshooting Label Templates – Troubles After You Print

Of course, even if your label templates look absolutely perfect on your screen, this doesn’t mean that the printed result will be the same. After you press print, there are two main groups of problems that can occur – print quality and print alignment – along with a third possible problem in the form of an absence of print.

  • PRINT QUALITY: these problems relate to the quality of the print itself. Common examples included faint print, print that smears or flakes away, and ghosting (where faint replicas of your design appear across the sheet).
  • PRINT ALIGNMENT: these problems relate to the positioning of your designs on your labels. Most misalignment problems follow one of two patterns where a) all of your designs are misaligned in the SAME direction by the SAME amount or b) the misalignment gets gradually worse as you look down/across/out from the centre of the sheet.
  • ABSENT PRINT: in these cases, a section (or sections) of a label (or labels) are not printed.

Once you’ve identified what has gone wrong (effect), you can then move on to trying to figure out why your template has gone wrong (cause).

Next Week On Template Tuesday – Troubleshooting Label Templates; Part 2, Why Has My Template Gone Wrong?

How & Why You Should Always, Always, ALWAYS Test Print Your Label Templates FIRST

October 22nd, 2019

Our TOP top tip is to ALWAYS test print label templates onto paper first – before you print onto your labels. Here’s why it is so important to test print templates and how to go about it.

always 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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

How To Set Up Your Printer Properly To Get Perfectly Printed Printer Labels

October 15th, 2019

To print a perfect set of printer labels, you need to set up your printer properly. Here are the steps you need to follow to get the best possible print – every time.

setting up your printer to print printer labels

Loading Your Printer Labels

Yes, even the way you load your labels can influence your print.

Gently fan your labels to separate the individual sheets and remove traces of static build-up, which can cause them to jam. Knock them together against an even surface to make sure they are perfectly aligned.

Always use the media bypass tray (if your printer has one, which it hopefully does!). This is a secondary tray, usually located just above or below the main paper tray. It has two important functions when printing labels; it is designed for thicker print media (like labels) and provides a straighter path through the printer (by bypassing at least one set of rollers), which improves the accuracy of your print.

Most bypass trays have guides along two (or three) sides to help your sheets enter the printer as straight as possible. Position the guides firmly against your sheets. Media bypass trays are not always designed for large volumes so don’t load too many sheets at a time (your printer’s manual should list the maximum volume the tray can hold). In fact, it is often best to limit the number of sheets you print in one go anyway because printing labels is a more intensive process than printing paper, which can cause printers to overheat, misfeed, or misprint over time.

If your printer offers wide and narrow edge leading loading (i.e. you can load your sheets so the wide edge or the narrow edge enters the printer first), always use narrow edge leading. Many label products have a grain running top to bottom through a portrait A4 sheet and feeding labels against this grain (i.e. wide edge leading) could cause the sheets to jam or the labels to lift.

Picking Your Print Settings

Labels are a very different print medium to paper so you’ll need to adjust how your printer prints to get the best possible print. Use “Printing Preferences” or “Printer Properties” to…

  • Select an A4 page size (297mm x 210mm).
  • Turn off scaling options (e.g. less than 100% or “Fit to…” options – if you have “Actual Size”, use it!).
  • Turn off default settings (e.g. settings like “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Default/Driver Settings” should not be used).
  • Select an appropriate media type and media weight. These might be listed individually or grouped together. Choose “Labels” for media type (or “Heavy Paper” if “Labels” isn’t an option). Media weights are usually listed in bands under general descriptions – e.g. “Light (60-64 gsm)” and “Heavy (105-120 gsm)”. “Heavy” is usually best but check your printer’s manual for recommended guidelines. Weights for Label Planet products are listed on our Material Specification Sheets.
    NB: some labels require different print settings. For example, our SMP and SVP ranges should be printed using a standard “Paper” setting.
  • Select an appropriate print quality for the level of detail in your designs. Standard print resolution is fine for text-based designs (like address labels) but you’ll need a higher resolution for images, digital artwork, and photographs.
  • Set the media bypass tray as your media source (if you are using it!) and the feed direction to narrow edge leading (if available) to avoid “tray mismatch” errors.

If you have ANY doubts about which print settings to use, consult the manual and/or manufacturer’s website. Many manufacturers provide recommended guidelines for printing labels.

Before you print onto your labels proper, you should do a test print…

Next week on Template Tuesday – A Template Tuesday Top Tip – How & Why You Should Always, Always, ALWAYS Test Print Your Label Templates FIRST

The Template Tuesday Guide To…Picking The Perfect Printer To Print Your Own Printer Labels

October 8th, 2019

While we mostly focus on label templates, we also have some top tips to help you pick the perfect printer to print your own printer labels.

picking the perfect printer to print printer labels

First Things First – Inkjet Or Laser?

The first decision is choosing an inkjet printer or a laser printer. These are the two main types of desktop printers used for business and personal use.

  • INKJET PRINTERS: disperse inks across a surface where they dry in place. Most inkjet inks are liquid and water-based, although a range of options are available – including solid wax inks.  
  • LASER PRINTERS: use heat and pressure to bond toner (a dry powder) onto a surface.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages so you’ll need to choose one that suits your overall printing needs. For printer labels, these are the things to keep in mind:

  • While some labels can be printed using either method, some can only be printed with an inkjet printer OR a laser printer. Here at Label Planet, we have more laser labels than inkjet labels so you might want to consider which type of printer offers the label options you need.
  • Laser printers are best if you need WATERPROOF LABELS. Laser print is waterproof; inkjet inks are usually water-based and run or smudge if they get wet. While waterproof inkjet labels are available, it is much easier to source waterproof laser labels.
  • Traditionally, high resolution artwork (such as digital artwork or photographs) has been printed using inkjet printers. Modern laser printers produce equal resolutions to inkjet printers. However, inkjet printers are still more likely to offer “high resolution” print options – especially for printing photographs.
  • You must budget for a printer AND consumables. Inkjet printers tend to be cheaper but have smaller cartridges, which need regular replacements (that are often quite expensive). Laser printer consumables (cartridges and image drums) tend to last longer, which may offer a lower long-term cost.

Next Things Next – How Specialised Do You Need To Go?

There are three levels of “specialisation”; all-in-one printers, standalone printers, and task-specific printers.

  • ALL-IN-ONE: perform several functions to a basic standard – e.g. printing, scanning, and copying.
  • STANDALONE: perform one function to a high standard – e.g. printing.
  • TASK-SPECIFIC: perform a specific type of one function to a high standard – e.g. printing photographs.  

Many people (including small businesses and individual users) choose all-in-one printers because they do several things and tend to be cheaper. However, while they are perfectly capable of day-to-day printing tasks, they are rarely designed for printing labels. All-in-one printers, therefore, tend to produce low quality labels OR fail to process label sheets at all.

You might, therefore, think that a task-specific printer would be the best option. If you have the budget for a label-specific printer – great! – unless you want to print other documents as well. In which case, your task-specific printer might be too specialised for other printing tasks. You would also need to source a printer that matches your application EXACTLY. A common example is photograph printers; some people struggle because their photograph printer will only print onto a very specific print medium (usually one supplied by the printer manufacturer). This prevents them from printing other print media or print media they have sourced elsewhere.

We therefore recommend standalone printers – designed to perform various types of one function (printing) to a high standard. This way you can use one machine for day-to-day documents AND printer labels.

Find The Right Features & Specifications

The best printers have features specifically designed for printing labels. This doesn’t mean they are label-specific printers – simply that printing labels is one of the tasks they can do! Look out for…

  • Labels as a print medium: your printer’s specification will list the print media it can handle (e.g. paper, envelopes, transparencies etc). Make sure labels are on that list!
  • Label printing options: the specification should also list “special” print options available for printing labels.
  • A media bypass tray: a secondary tray designed for thicker print media (like labels). It also improves the accuracy of print alignment.
  • Special print functions: a common example is “edge-to-edge” or “borderless” printing. This allows desktop printers to print the full area of an A4 sheet, which standard printers cannot do! If your labels sit near or at the edges of your sheets, you might not be able to print the full area of each label without these functions.
  • A decent duty cycle: this is the number of sheets a printer can print to a consistent quality within a given time frame (usually a month). As a thicker print medium, labels require a more intensive printing process. This means you need a higher duty cycle than the actual amount of printing you require.
  • A reasonable resolution: to print digital artwork or photographs, you’ll need a decent print resolution. However, you DON’T have to pay extra for the highest possible resolution available. This is because, after a certain point, the human eye can no longer distinguish the difference between resolutions. As a general rule 300dpi (dots per inch) is “normal resolution” (ideal for basic address labels), 600dpi is “high resolution” (ideal for basic designs), and 1200dpi is “photo resolution” (good enough to reproduce digital photographs).

Pick A Printer That’s Right For You
(And Your Needs) (And Your Budget)

Finally, the best advice that we can give is that you need to pick a printer that’s right for you. You don’t need to purchase the most expensive printer simply because it has every feature available. A simpler (more budget friendly) printer might be perfectly capable of printing your labels – without having to waste money on pointless extras.

List the printing tasks you need, set a budget, and find a printer that meets your requirements. We don’t recommend specific printer models because we know that every customer’s needs and budget are different. However, we do recommend two manufacturers – HP and OKI. We have used both for our own printing needs and both produce standalone printers capable of producing high quality print on self adhesive label stock.

If you don’t have a suitable printer, or the budget to buy one, why not ask around to see if someone has a printer you can borrow. Alternatively, there are a number of local high street printers who could print your labels for you. Obviously, this does cost more as you would need to purchase your labels and pay to have them printed. For some, this is a suitable workaround until they can purchase a printer of their own.

Next week on Template Tuesday: How To Set Up Your Printer Correctly To Get The Perfect Print On Your Printer Labels