Designing Label Templates – How (& Why) You Should Keep Things In Line With A Central Alignment

July 16th, 2019

One of our top tips to customers is to centralise label designs to make things simpler; in this blog, we’ll explain why central alignment is so useful when it comes to designing label templates – as well as how to centralise label templates.

What Do We Mean By A “Central Alignment”?

The term “alignment” actually has a number of applications when it comes to labels and label templates. Alignment refers to the spatial arrangement of items – along a straight line, in parallel lines, in a shared space or in corresponding spaces, or in relation to another item.

When working with labels, alignment can refer to:

  • The way labels are positioned on a sheet
  • How a label design is positioned on each label (and how the elements within that design are positioned)
  • How well (or not) a label template positions your label designs when you print your labels

When it comes to designing label templates, the most important “alignment” is how well your template (and therefore your label design) aligns with your labels when printed. However, it’s also important to think about the alignment of your design (and the elements within that design) – because this can influence how easy (or not) it is to produce a beautifully aligned set of printed labels.

There are NINE ways to align a label design on a label, which are as follows (and are usually represented by the following icons):

label templates - what is alignment

When aligning a label design, the design is aligned relative to the LABEL. This is important because items can be aligned relative to a number of other items (for example, in Word, you can align items relative to the page, to the page margins, to text, or to other items).

Why Do We Recommend Using A Central Alignment For Label Templates?

Choosing an alignment is often a subjective choice; some people prefer the appearance of a central alignment, while others prefer a different alignment. For example, a left alignment is particularly popular for simple text-based labels, such as address labels or product information labels, which only contain basic text that is read from left to right – making a left alignment feel more natural.

The reason we recommend a central alignment is because it tends to make it easier to align your designs onto your labels during the printing process. This is because your design “starts” from the centre of each label and expands outwards – this means you are less likely to get problems with content getting cut off around the edges of your labels. A central alignment can also have a natural sense of balance to it, which many find creates a more attractive appearance for label designs (especially on labels with more obvious shaping – like round labels and oval labels).

How Do You Set Word Label Templates To Use A Central Alignment?

In Word, you can set individual alignments for each individual item (as well as the label templates themselves), so the simplest option is to apply a central alignment to the whole label template. Word label templates are made using tables, so you need to apply a central alignment to your table.

First select your table; move your cursor to the top left corner of the table until the cursor turns into a four headed arrow. Left click to select your table. Two tabs will appear in the ribbon at the top of the page; “Table Design” and “Layout”. Click on the Layout tab and find the nine alignment icons in the “Alignment” section. Click on the middle “Centre” icon to apply a central alignment to the entire table – and your label template.

Any items you now add will be centrally aligned by default. If your design is made up of multiple elements, remember to change the “Wrap Text” format to give yourself better control over the positioning of these items. Left click to select an item and click on the “Format” tab that appears in the ribbon; click on the Wrap Text icon and select “Tight”.

You can use the Format tabs to apply different alignments to individual items but we advise sticking with the overall central alignment and moving each element into its required position from there.

All of the Word label templates supplied by Label Planet are set up with a central alignment. If you want to use a different alignment, you can use the steps listed above to apply your preferred alignment to your template.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing Label Templates –Why You Should Design From The Background Forward

Tops Tips For Working With Images In Word Label Templates

July 9th, 2019

Word does not always play well with images so we’ve put together our Template Tuesday Top Tips for taking back control of your label templates when Word simply won’t do what it’s told!

word label templates and images

Top Tip No. 1: Use Copy & Paste As Much As You Can

Copy and paste are brilliant tools when it comes to creating – and completing – accurate label templates. You can use copy and paste to quickly add images from external sources. Then, if you’re creating a set of identical or similar labels, you can save yourself time AND create a more accurate template by using copy and paste to complete your template.

Add your design to the first label in your template. Once you’re happy with it, select that label, copy it, and then paste it into the rest of the template. Not only is this quicker than setting up your design from scratch in each individual label, it is also more accurate – because every design (and therefore every label) will be exactly the same.

Top Tip No. 2: Use A Blank Document If You Have Pasting Problems

If you are pasting an image from an external source and it doesn’t paste into your label template properly, try opening a blank Word document and pasting your image into that document first. Sometimes, pasting into a table (used to create Word label templates) can cause problems – especially with image size and resolution. Pasting your image into a clean, blank document sidesteps this problem. You can then copy and paste your image into your label template without any trouble.

Top Tip No. 3: Size Matters (& Resizing Matters Even More)

If your images aren’t the right size to begin with, you will need to resize them to make them fit into your template (and onto your labels), which can cause problems with image quality – depending on the type of image you are using.

Vector images store images as a set of instructions, which are used to reconstruct the image each time it is displayed or resized. This means that you can resize these images without losing any detail.

Most images, however, are stored as bitmap images, which are made up of a grid of pixels (or points of colour). If you increase the size of a bitmap image, your software has to add in extra pixels – assigning colour information based on the original pixels around them. If you decrease the size of a bitmap image, your software has to remove pixels. In either case, the detail held in the original pixels is diluted, reducing the quality of the image.

Ideally, you should use images that are already the correct size (or very slightly larger) for your label templates.

Top Tip No 4: Take Care With Coloured Backgrounds / Borders

You need to take care with images that sit at the very edges of your labels – if they are a different colour to the labels themselves. Standard printers and software are limited in how accurately they can align a design to your labels. Any slight misalignment can result in a printing defect known as “white edging” – although “blank edging” would be a more accurate term. This simply means that, where your design doesn’t quite align at the edge(s) of your labels, you get a blank, unprinted edge. It is called white edging because most labels are white in colour and so the unprinted area is white.

If there is a gap all the way around each label (as on a sheet of round labels, for example), you can oversize your image slightly so that it overlaps the edges of your label making it impossible for white edging to occur. If there isn’t a gap all the way around you will either need to make sure your image doesn’t sit at the edges OR ensure that your image is a consistent colour all the way around. This way, when you oversize your image and print your labels, the images will overlap BUT you won’t notice because the overlap will be the same colour.

Top Tip No 5: Take Control Over Picture Positioning

One of the biggest problems people encounter when they add images to Word label templates is positioning. As a word processor, Word is designed primarily for adding, editing, and arranging TEXT – not images. While it does offer support for images, Word will always prioritise text over images and positioning images according to the text in your label template (even if you haven’t actually added any text).

To give yourself more control over the positioning of images in Word label templates, you need to change the “Wrap Text” format of your images. By default, this is “In Line With Text” – meaning that Word will align your images based on the text it assumes you will want to enter. Left click once on an image to select it and bring up the “Picture Tools” (for pictures) or “Drawing Tools” (for shapes) Format Tab. Under “Wrap Text”, select “Tight”. If you find that an image is partially overlapped by another element in your template (and using the “Bring Forward” or “Bring To Front” tools in the format tab don’t help), try using “In Front Of Text”.

Top Tip No 6: Have A Plan For Designs With Multiple Elements (& Work Back To Front)

If your label design is made up of multiple elements (e.g. multiple images or a mix of text and images), we recommend taking a minute to sketch your design and work out how you need to layer your elements to create your required design. You should then work from the background forward, layering each element in order, which helps to avoid potential problems with Word trying to “helpfully” arrange your layers for you.

Top Tip No 7: Use A Central Alignment To Keep Your Design In Line

Using a central alignment tends to give you better control over the positioning of different elements within a design. While you might think that using a left alignment for elements that sit on the left hand side of your design and a right alignment for elements that sit on the right hand side of your design would make things easier, this does restrict how an image can be positioned. This means that using a more generic central alignment and repositioning your images as needed actually allows you to create your label design more accurately.

Top Tip No 8: Always Test Print Label Templates

Image-based designs tend to require a more accurate alignment than simpler text-based designs. A misaligned image always tends to stick out more than misaligned text, which is why we strongly recommend doing a test print of image-based designs before printing onto your labels themselves.

Load a blank sheet of paper into your printer (using the media bypass tray if your printer has one) and set up your print settings as you would to print your labels (using a specific “Labels” or “Heavy Paper” print setting). Hold your test print against a sheet of your labels and hold both up to a light source to check the alignment and see if you need to make any adjustments before printing onto your labels proper.

Top Tip No. 9: Don’t Expect More From Word (Or Yourself) Than It Is (Or You Are) Capable Of Delivering

We’ve already mentioned the fact that Word is, primarily, a word processor designed to handle text only. While Word can handle design-based tasks (and create a perfectly printed set of labels), it is by NO MEANS designed for creating complex designs that require a high level of detail and accuracy.

Creating more complicated designs in Word can be done – if you have the knowledge of the tools required to do so AND the patience to work around the limitations in Word. If you don’t have either of these things or if you’re looking to create a label design that is simply more complex than Word is capable of reproducing, then you should get someone else to do it for you, use other software, or compromise and simplify your design.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing Label Templates – How (& Why) You Should Keep Things In Line With A Central Alignment

How To Create A Label Design In Word Using Images & Shapes

July 2nd, 2019

This week’s Template Tuesday takes a closer look at how to create image-based designs in Word label templates using images and shapes.

What’s The Difference Between Images & Shapes?

In Word, you can create image-based designs using images (pictures) or shapes. Pictures are images that you usually add from an external source, such as a camera or the internet, and can be any kind of image, from photographs to logos. Shapes, however, are just that – basic shapes that you can create in a Word document and use to build up your required label design.

How Do I Add An Image Or Shape To Word Label Templates?

Both can be added using the “Insert” tab in the ribbon at the top of the page.

When adding pictures, you have the option to insert an image you have saved on your computer or device (click on Pictures and navigate to your saved file), insert an image you find using an online search (click on Online Pictures), or you can insert an image created from a screenshot (click on Screenshot).

Alternatively, you can copy images from an external source and use the paste icon or keyboard shortcut (Windows: press Ctrl + V // MacOS: Command + V) to insert it into Word label templates.

When adding shapes, you need to select the shape you want to create, move your cursor to the place where you want to add your shape, (left) click and hold down the button or trackpad as you move your cursor down and to the right to create the size of shape you need, and then release to insert your shape. You can format and resize your shape at any point. By default, shapes have a solid blue border (outline) and a solid blue colour (fill).

How Do I Format Images & Shapes In Word Labels Templates?

You can format pictures and shapes in a variety of ways to help produce your required label design. For pictures, use the formatting tools listed under the “Picture Tools Format” tab, while shapes can be formatted using the tools in the “Drawing Tools Format” tab. To bring up either of these tabs, you will need to first select your picture or shape by left clicking on it once.

You can apply basic effects and styles to pictures (including colouring effects, borders, and shadow, reflection, glow, or bevel effects). With shapes, you can format the border (outline) and colour (fill), as well as applying basic effects like those listed above.

You can also use the format tabs to adjust the size of your picture or shape (this can also be done by clicking on the sizing handles at the corners / in the centre of each edge and dragging to resize) or to change the arrangement of your picture or shape.

The arrangement tools are very important when working with images (pictures or shapes) in Word label templates. Word prioritises text over images, which means that the positioning and layering options for images will be set to their most basic level by default. This can severely restrict how much control you have over positioning and layering images (vital tools when it comes to creating image-based designs), which is why you should always change these settings from the default option (“In Line With Text”) to something that gives you more control (we recommend “Tight”, although you can also use “In Front Of Text” if you have problems getting a particular shape or picture to sit at the very front of your design).

Next Week On Template Tuesday – Top Tips For Working With Images In Word Label Templates

Designing Word Label Templates – Benefits & Drawbacks Of Plain Text, Text Boxes, & WordArt

June 25th, 2019

Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at the different ways you can add text to Word label templates – plain text, text boxes, and WordArt. This week, we’ll take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of these text-based design tools.

Plain Text In Label Templates – The Benefits & Drawbacks

Plain text is, as its name suggests, plain. This means that it is both the easiest and quickest way to add text into label templates but also the most basic. While you can add your text simply by clicking inside a label and typing (or even pasting in text from an external source), you will be limited in the formatting options available.

While you can quite easily change the colour, size, and emphasis of your text, you won’t be able to apply more sophisticated styles and effects.

You’ll also find that you have less control over the positioning of your text. While you can select an alignment and choose a Wrap Text formatting option that gives you greater control over the positioning of your text (we recommend “Tight” or “In Front Of Text” as a backup), plain text will always be more unruly than text that is contained within a single object (like a text box or WordArt). You’ll also struggle to use plain text in a layered design; if your design contains a mixture of background, border, text, and image elements, you need to be able to control the position of each element and layer them as needed to create your finished design. Plain text in a Word label template is not easily layered.

Text Boxes & WordArt – The Benefits & Drawbacks

Text boxes and WordArt give you access to the more sophisticated formatting tools available in Word label templates. This means that you can apply more sophisticated styles and effects to your text (great if you want a bright, eye-catching design) and gives you far greater control over the positioning and arrangement of your text. This is because your text is contained within a single object, which can be moved and resized quickly and easily compared to plain text, which is automatically arranged into straight lines across the page. It also means you can layer your text boxes and WordArt to create more intricate designs.

NB: you’ll need to change the default “Wrap Text” option to give yourself more control over the positioning of these objects. We recommend using “Tight” – with “In Front Of Text” as an alternative if you need it. You’ll also need to take care with the background of text boxes – the default format is a solid white background with a black border, which you will need to change to a transparent background (no fill) and no border (no outline) if that text box needs to sit above another layer without blocking it out.

The main drawback of text boxes and WordArt is that you will need to spend extra time getting the sizing, positioning, alignment, arrangement, and formatting just right in order to achieve your required design. If you don’t need your labels to be especially decorative, you should consider sticking with plain text to get your label template set up much faster.

Which Text Is Best – Plain Text VS Text Boxes & WordArt

In the end, it really comes down to how complicated your label design needs to be; for very simple text-based designs, such as address labels, plain text is a quick and simple way to get your content added and your labels printed. If you want a more sophisticated graphic design, especially one that relies on combining / layering text and images together within one design, then adding your text within an object such as a text box or WordArt will give you much greater control over the positioning and arrangement of your text – making it much, much easier to create your required design.

Next week on Template Tuesday – How To Create Label Design In Word Using Images & Shapes

How To – How To Create A Label Design In Word Using Text Boxes & WordArt

June 18th, 2019

This week’s Template Tuesday is all about how to create text-based label designs in Word label templates using text boxes and WordArt.

What’s The Difference Between Text Boxes, WordArt, & Plain Text?

As we discussed in last week’s Template Tuesday, plain text is simply text that you type directly into Word documents. Text can also be added inside a box (the imaginatively named text box), while WordArt allows text to be added as a standalone self-contained object (without a containing box).

All three kinds of text can have various styles and formatting applied; with a text box, you can also edit the text box itself (for example by adding a border and/or background), while WordArt allows you to apply more sophisticated styles and effects to your text (compared to plain text).

How Do I Add A Text Box Or WordArt To Word Label Templates?

Both of these objects can be added using the “Insert” tab in the ribbon at the top of the page.

Adding A Text Box

Select the Insert tab and click on Text Box. You’ll see a selection of built-in text boxes, along with the option to draw your own text box.

Generally speaking, the “Simple Text Box” option is the best. This inserts a text box with a white background and a narrow black border. You can format both the background and the border and resize or repostion your text box as you like. Alternatively, click on “Draw Text Box”, move your cursor to where you want to add your text box, click and hold down the left button on your mouse / trackpad and drag your cursor to create a text box. Release the button / trackpad to insert your text box. Like the “Simple Text Box” option, the text box will have a white background and a black border.

Click inside the text box and start typing to add text. Use the sizing handles at the corners and in the middle of each edge to resize it as needed.

We recommend adding text box(es) to the first label in your template before using copy and paste to complete your template. You must select a text box to copy it. Move your cursor so it hovers over one of the edges of the text box; it will become an icon containing a four headed arrow, left click once to select your text box. You can then use the copy icon or keyboard shortcut (Windows: Ctrl + C // MacOS: ⌘ + C) to copy your text box. Select multiple text boxes by selecting the entire contents of your first label (move your cursor into the bottom left corner and triple click quickly) OR by holding down the shift key on your keyboard as you select each text box.

Adding WordArt

Select the Insert tab in the ribbon and then click on WordArt. You will see a number of built-in pre-formatted options. If you like one of these, simply click on the icon to use that formatting. Alternatively, click on the first option to add basic WordArt, which you can then format as you please. Replace “Your text here” with your required text, resize the WordArt using the sizing handles as needed, and positioning your WordArt as required.

As with text boxes, we recommend using copy and paste to replicate WordArt across label templates, rather than trying to insert individual WordArt into each individual label (unless you are creating a set of completely unique labels, of course).

How Do I Format Text Boxes & WordArt In Word Label Templates?

Both objects can be formatted using the Drawing Tools tab. To view these tools, first you need to select your text box or WordArt by left clicking on it once. This adds the Drawing Tools Format tab to the ribbon at the top of the page and gives you access to a variety of formatting tools, including:

  • Insert Shapes: use the Edit Shape to add a shape to your text box or around your WordArt. For example, if you want your text to sit within a circle or oval shape, you can add a circular or oval shape within your text box or around your WordArt.
  • Shape Styles: use these tools to format the background (fill) and border (outline) of your text box (or add a background and border to your WordArt) or to apply an effect to your text box.
  • WordArt Styles: use these tools to format the text inside your text box or your WordArt; you can alter the colour (fill) and border (outline) of your text, as well as apply effects – the Transform option is ideal if you want your text to follow a certain path or slope within your text box or WordArt.

You’ll also find options for adjusting the alignment, positioning, arrangement, and size of your text box / WordArt.

Remember, if you are applying formatting options to the text within a text box, you need to make sure that you have selected all of the text that you want to format.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing Word Label Templates – The Benefits & Drawbacks Of Plain Text Vs Text Boxes & WordArt

How To – How To Create A Label Design In Word Using Plain Text

May 28th, 2019

This week’s Template Tuesday is all about how to create text-based label designs in Word label templates using plain text.

What Is Plain Text?

Plain text is simply text that you type directly into Word documents, such as label templates, as opposed to using a text box or WordArt.  

How Do I Add Plain Text To Word Label Templates?

Move your cursor to the place where you want to add text, left click once, and start typing!

how to add plain text to label templates in word

You can use copy and paste to add text from an external source. Select your text by moving your cursor to the start, hold down the left button on your mouse / press down on the trackpad as you move your cursor to the end, and release. This will highlight your selected text in a different background colour. Use the copy icon or keyboard shortcut (Windows: Ctrl + C // MacOS: ⌘ + C) to copy your text. Move your cursor to the position where you want to add your text and click once. Use the paste icon (under the Home tab in Word) or keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + V // ⌘ + V) to paste your text.

You can repeat this process for each label; however, this is time-consuming and can lead to mistakes. A better option (if you want identical / similar labels) is to add your text to the top left label and use copy and paste to complete your template.

Select the contents of the first label by moving your cursor to the bottom left corner and triple clicking quickly. Alternatively use the highlighting process (described above) to select your text. Use the copy icon / shortcut to copy your text.

You can now paste your text into the rest of your labels individually OR column by column. If there are gaps all the way around your labels, you can’t paste into whole columns because you will add text into the gaps, which can spoil the alignment of your printed template.

If you have gaps between JUST the columns, select an entire column by moving your cursor to the top of the column until a downward facing black arrow appears. Left click once to select the column. Hold down the Ctrl key as you select other columns to highlight multiple columns at once. Alternatively, use the highlighting method to select an entire column.

Your text will be pasted into the highlighted column(s) when you use the paste icon / shortcut.

How Do I Format Plain Text In Word Label Templates?

You can format plain text using the font, paragraph, and styles tools listed under the Home tab in the ribbon at the top of the page. The font tools are the most useful, allowing you to change the font, size, colour, and emphasis of your text (you can also apply some text effects) – the paragraph tool is useful for controlling the alignment and layout of your text in each label.

Remember to select the text that you want to apply formatting options to BEFORE you use the tools listed above. If you don’t, the options you choose will only be applied to the current word that your cursor is sitting in the middle of OR text that you subsequently add to your template.

Next week on Template Tuesday: How To Create A Label Design In Word Using Text Boxes & WordArt

The Template Tuesday Guide To…(Label) Design Tools In Microsoft Word

May 21st, 2019

While Word is primarily designed to work with text, it also contains plenty of design tools that come in handy when you need to create a label design in Word label templates.

What Design Tools Are Available In Word?

Word groups its tools into categories and so the design tools you might need to create and print label templates can be found in a number of places, including:

  • The HOME tab: here you’ll find design tools related to text. These tools allow you to select the font, colour, emphasis, position etc of your text. It also contains the cut, copy, and paste tools, which come in VERY handy when you need to copy your design from one label into the rest of your template (or when adding elements from external sources).
  • The INSERT tab: here you’ll find design tools that allow you to add design elements, such as tables, pictures, shapes, text boxes, and WordArt to your template.
  • “TOOLS” tabs: these are more specialised tabs, which allow you to format specific objects. They include Table Tools (including a Design tab and a Layout tab to format tables), Drawing Tools (for formatting text boxes, WordArt, and shapes), and Picture Tools (for formatting images).

All of these tabs are displayed at the top of the page in a bar called the “ribbon”. These tabs are broken up into two types – general use tabs, which are always included in the ribbon, and tools tabs, which contain tools related to specific objects and will only be included in the ribbon when one of those objects is selected.

How To Find & Use Text Design Tools

If you need to edit “plain text” (i.e. text you simply type into the template itself and not text added in a text box or as WordArt), you need to select the “Home” tab at the top of the page.

To use these tools, first select / highlight the text you want to format. The simplest way to do this is to use your mouse / cursor. Move the cursor to the start of the text, then press and hold down the left button on your mouse (or press and hold down the touchpad) as you move your cursor to the end of the text, and release the button. The text you have selected will now be highlighted with a grey background.

You can then use the tool icons in the Home tab to make changes to your text, such as the font, size, colour, emphasis, alignment, and position.

If you need to edit text that you have added using a text box or WordArt, you can use the tools in the Home tab OR you can use the more advanced tools displayed under the Drawing Tools Format tab. In either case, you will first need to select your text box or WordArt by left clicking on it once. This will add the Drawing Tools Format tab to the ribbon at the top of the page.

You can use the tool icons in the Home tab to make basic changes to your text or you can use the tools in the Drawing Tools tab to apply more advanced design formatting, such as shaping, shape effects, text effects, and arrangement (allowing you to layer different elements to build up your final design).

How To Find & Use Image Design Tools

To edit shapes, you need to use the Drawing Tools tab as mentioned in the paragraph above.

To edit pictures and images, you need to use the Picture Tools Format tab, which can be found in a similar way. Left click on your picture or image and this will add the Picture Tools tab to the ribbon at the top of the page.

You can then use the tools in the Picture Tools tab to make picture corrections, adjust the colour, apply effects and styles, and select the alignment and positioning of your image(s).  

How To Find & Use Table Design Tools

Word label templates are basically an A4 page containing a table. The table represents the layout of your labels; each cell represents either a label OR a gap between two labels. This means that you might need to use table design tools.

To access the TWO table design tabs (Design & Layout), you can select the entire table or click anywhere inside the table, which will add the two Table Tools tabs to the ribbon.

If you simply left click somewhere inside the table (carefully avoiding any design elements that you have already added), the two Table Tools tabs will appear – any changes you make using tools from these tabs will generally only be applied to the cell that you have clicked within.

If you select the whole template, however, any changes you make will apply to the whole table. To select the whole table, move your cursor to the top left corner. An icon containing a four headed black arrow should appear – left click on this once to select the whole table.

The design tab allows you to apply styles to your table or to add shading / borders.

Top Tip: we advise AGAINST adding borders to label templates in this way. The Table Tools border tool usually INCREASES the size of your table – changing the alignment you get when you print your template.

The layout tab allows you to format the layout and alignment of the table.

Top Tip: ideally you shouldn’t need to adjust the layout. If you do need to do so, do take care when making adjustments as these tools can influence the overall alignment of label templates.

Next week on Template Tuesday – How To – How To Create A Label Design In Word Using Plain Text

A Template Tuesday Top Tip (Sketch Your Design Before Doing Anything With Label Templates)

May 14th, 2019

While many people simply dive into the process of designing and printing their own labels, you might well find that you can save yourself a lot of time and bother by taking a few minutes to sketch out your design before going anywhere near any label templates – or even any labels.

sketching designs for label templates

The Benefits Of Sketching Your Design Before You Choose Your Labels & Your Label Templates

  • Helps you to choose the most effective and efficient label size

Knowing exactly how much space you need to achieve your design can help you to select a label shape and size that is perfect for your application. If your design needs to include a significant amount of (important) text, sketching out your design (or even simply typing out your text) gives you a good idea of how much room you need to avoid your labels becoming cluttered and difficult to read. This is especially important for labels that are supposed to provide important information, directions, or instructions (such as ingredient lists or instructions for use).

Additional tip: if you’re struggling to include EVERYTHING on ONE label, sketching your label design gives you a chance to see if using two (or more) labels would be a more effective solution for your application.

You will end up being able to buy labels and source label templates KNOWING that they will work perfectly for your purposes. Simply taking a guess at a label size and shape that MIGHT work could mean that you end up having to compromise your design to get it to fit onto your labels. You might even find that the labels you’ve bought simply don’t work at all – leaving you with the time and costs of finding suitable replacements.

  • Helps you to create a design that is practical and pretty

Sketching out your design gives you a chance to play around with all of the elements that you want to include and to find an arrangement that makes your labels as practical and pretty as possible. A quick sketch is a quick way to find out if all of your elements will combine to create a clean, professional design that looks good while also delivering on more practical expectations (for example, product labels that promote your brand and provide important product information). If you find that your sketch is looking a bit messy and cluttered, you can edit your design quickly and easily (and repeatedly) without having to spend time revising a template.

Of course, if you’re familiar with digital design, you might feel more comfortable arranging and re-arranging a design in a label template, which is fine. If you’re less experienced or confident with digital design, however, a quick scribble with pencil and paper can be a simpler and quicker way to experiment with and perfect your design.

  • Helps you to create a design that is simpler to design & print

Creating a sketch of your design can give you a good idea of how to go about recreating that design in a label template – which will reduce the amount of time you spend setting up your label template. It can also help to identify any elements in your design that might make your labels a little bit more difficult and time-consuming to print properly.

For example, design elements that make use of the shaping of your labels (especially around the edges of your labels) are often more difficult to print properly – because you have to ensure that the alignment is just so or your labels won’t look right. A common example is borders; these elements follow the edges of your labels, which has the effect of emphasising any slight misalignment on your printed labels.

Sketching your design first can give you a good idea of how tricky it will be to get the perfect print on your labels; if it looks like your design will be too difficult to print perfectly yourself – or if you simply want to opt for a design that’s simply more straightforward – you can adjust your design before you get to the printing process.

In short, taking the time to sketch out your design can save you time, money, resources AND avoid a whole lot of stress and upset.

Next Week on Template Tuesday – The Template Tuesday Guide To…(Label) Design Tools In Microsoft Word

Troubleshooting Tips For Templates That Are Trouble From The Start!

May 7th, 2019

Template troubles are all too common but some label templates prove to be problematic before you even start. Here’s our Template Tuesday top tips for troubleshooting templates that cause trouble from the off!

how to avoid compatibility problems with label templates

Tip 1: Check your template is in a file format that your software can edit.

For example, a Word template (.docx) must be opened using word processing software (like Word, Word For Mac, Pages etc) and a PDF template must be opened using a graphics package (like InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop etc).

If you try to open a file format that your software cannot edit, one of two things will happen:

  1. If your software cannot edit OR read the file format, it won’t be able to open the template.
  2. If your software can read but not edit the file format, it will open the template but you won’t be able to make any changes.

Tip 2: Check if your template has been put into a “locked” state.

Files downloaded from the internet are often temporarily “locked” for security reasons. You will usually see a pop-up box or bar asking if you want to unlock the file. For example, Word displays a yellow banner at the top of the page, with an “Enable Editing” button that you must click before you can start working with that document.

Tip 3: Save standalone label templates BEFORE you start adding your design.

When downloading label templates make sure you save the template onto your device. Some downloaded files will be saved by default; others will open directly OR give you the choice of opening or saving the file. If you have the option to open or save, always select save. If your template opens directly, save a copy before you start making any changes.

Tip 4: Take care with label templates that open in “compatibility mode”.

Your software may open your template in a “compatibility” mode, which simply means some part(s) of your template are not compatible with (will not work with) your software.

You may still be able to use the template, although you may be restricted in the changes that you can make (which might prevent you from implementing your design exactly as you’d like). Your software might also offer to “convert” the file, which involves replacing the incompatible parts with (hopefully) similar alternatives that are compatible.

Converting label templates can be a risky proposition. Minor compatibility issues are easily fixed using alternative elements that make no difference to the overall setup of your template (e.g. like replacing an incompatible font). Major compatibility issues, however, may result in large alterations being made. If any of these alterations change the overall layout of your template, it will no longer create the alignment you need to print your labels.

If you convert a template ALWAYS double check that the measurements are still correct. You can either use measurement tools in your software or do a quick test print onto paper to see if your template produces the correct alignment.

We strongly recommend that you do NOT convert between different TYPES of file formats as this is extremely likely to change your template.

For example, changing a word processing file format into another word processing file format (like .doc to .docx) is likely to require minor changes, which would mean your converted template should be okay. If you change a word processing file format into page layout or graphics file format (like .pub or .pdf), it is more than likely that major changes will be required and you will likely end up with a converted template that is useless.

Tip 5: Check your template opens up as a SINGLE sheet of A4.

If you are printing A4 sheets of labels, your template should open on a SINGLE A4 page. If it splits onto two pages, you will not get the alignment you need when you try to print your labels. There are two common causes:

  1. You have accidentally added content (like a line of text) at the top of your template. For example, in Word templates, you can easily accidentally add a line of text at the top of your template, which pushes everything downwards (and onto a second page). Move your cursor to the top of your template and left click once. If this creates a flashing text cursor then you do have a blank line (or lines) at the top of your template. Use the delete or backspace keys on your keyboard to delete these lines.
  2. Your template uses measurements that are smaller than those allowed by your software and it has resized your template to the minimum measurements supported by your software.

For example, Word templates represent labels using a table. Pages has a larger minimum table row height compared to Word. If your labels have gaps that are less than 2.8mm (and these are represented in your Word template), when you open that Word template in Pages, it will automatically replace those smaller rows with rows that are 2.8mm – increasing the overall height of your template and pushing it onto two pages.

You will need to delete the rows that represent the gaps between the rows of labels and account for those gaps in the height of the rows that represent the labels themselves.

Tip 6: Make sure you have Table Gridlines turned on in Word.

Word templates represent labels using a table; if you open a Word template and can’t see the outlines of your labels (which should be represented using dotted grey lines), Table Gridlines are turned off. To turn them back on:

  1. Word 2007 onwards: left click once anywhere in the middle of the page. Additional Table Tools tabs should appear at the top of the window. Click on the Table Tools “Layout” tab and click “View Gridlines” (usually on the left side).
  2. Word 2003: click on the “Table Menu” tab and click “Show Gridlines”.
  3. Word for Mac 2016: click once anywhere in the middle of the page. Select the “Layout” tab (next to the “Table Design” tab), and click “View Gridlines”.
  4. Word for Mac 2011: click once anywhere in the middle of the page. Select the “Table Layout” tab, find the group called “Settings”, and click “Gridlines”.

Next Week On Template Tuesday – A Template Tuesday Top Tip (Sketch Your Design Before Doing Anything With Label Templates)

How To – How To Open Label Templates To Avoid Compatibility Problems

April 30th, 2019

Label templates can be troublesome at the best of times – but templates with compatibility issues are a sure sign of problems to come. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to help avoid compatibility problems.

how to avoid compatibility problems with label templates

Why Is Compatibility Such A Big Problem For Label Templates?

In the labelling word, the word “compatible” crops up a LOT. Compatibility is extremely important when it comes to printing labels – from the labels themselves, to the printer, software, and template used to print those labels.

For example, your labels need to be compatible with the type of printer you intend to use (or vice versa). Your label templates need to be compatible with your labels AND the software you intend to use to print those labels.

In this context, compatible means that the two items will work together / can be used together without problems or conflict.

In other words, if your label templates aren’t compatible with your labels or your software, they won’t be of any use in designing and printing your labels properly.

Choosing a label template that is compatible with your labels is relatively straightforward; you simply need to make sure the measurements of the template match those of your labels.

Slightly more complicated is making sure that your label template is compatible with your software.

What Causes Compatibility Problems Between Label Templates & Software?

There are a number of factors that can cause compatibility issues but the key factor is the file format of your label template. This is the technical standard used to encode information for storage in a computer file. Your template must use a file format that your software can read (open) and edit (change) for you to be able to use that template.

It is not enough for your software to be able to just read a file – this will only allow you to view a label template without making any changes, like adding a design.

However, even when your software CAN read and edit a particular file format, you can still run into compatibility issues. This might be because of an issue during the download process (e.g. file corruption) or because your software is a different version of the software used to create the template / is different software altogether.

For example, if a template is created using Software Version 3 and you open it in Software Version 2, your version 2 software might not have elements or tools that were added to version 3 – and used to make your template. Likewise, word processing software ABC could be used to make a template using elements or tools that are not available in word processing software DEF – so while you can open and edit the template with DEF, there could be some compatibility issues.

The essential problem is that most label templates are standalone files that you download from an external source (e.g. the Label Planet website). Your software will recognise these as external files and will therefore process all of the elements in the file to ensure that they are compatible. In other words, if a template isn’t an existing part of your software or isn’t a file that you created yourself, your software is going to analyse every element within that template – and complain about anything that it doesn’t recognise. 

For minor compatibility issues, your software will usually be able to put your file through a conversion process – replacing the incompatible parts with the closest possible equivalents that it can offer.

A common example is fonts. For example, a template set up in Software A uses Font B. When that template is opened in Software C (which does not contain Font B but does contain Font D), Software C cannot recognise Font B (as it is incompatible) BUT can detect that it is a font and so converts Font B into Font D.

You need to keep a careful eye on changes made during the conversion process. Swapping one font for another is unlikely to do any damage BUT if the measurements of the template are changed (or any formatting options relating to the spacing and arrangement of the template are altered), you may find that your converted template is no long compatible with your labels. If your software converts a template file, always double check the measurements to ensure that they are still correct.

So, how do you make sure that your software has checked for compatibility issues and problems? After all, you don’t want to spend hours perfecting your design, only to find out that your software won’t save or print your template properly (or even save / print it at all) because of a compatibility problem.

The simplest way is to use your software to open the label template itself in the first place.

Avoiding Compatibility Problems When Opening Label Templates

When you download a label template, a copy is either saved directly to your Downloads folder OR you will be asked if you want to open or save the file. Occasionally, a copy of the template will be automatically opened.

We always recommend that you save a copy of a label template – and avoid working with templates that open directly (at least without saving a copy first). This is because directly opening a template (as opposed to opening a saved copy) won’t always highlight compatibility issues – and can result in you working on a template that you won’t be able to print and/or save properly.

Saving a copy of a label template, however, tends to give you two opportunities to catch compatibility issues. First, your device has to save a copy of the file. File corruption during the download process and major compatibility issues can prevent files from saving properly – giving you your first indication that there is an issue with the template.

Second, you can then start your software up and use your software to open your template (usually this is done using File > Open menu options). This will mean that your software is already up and running – and ready to check for compatibility issues as it opens the file. Opening a saved file tends to be a more efficient and smooth process, compared to opening a file from an external online source.  

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Troubleshooting Tips That Are Troublesome From The Start!