Archive for September, 2017

Designing A Label Template – When & How To Use A Bleed Template

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

This week, we’re taking a look at Bleed Templates – which are definitely not as gruesome as they sound!

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, if you’re creating a label design that uses a full colour background you can sometimes end up with white edging around the edges of your labels where your printer hasn’t quite managed to line up your template perfectly with your labels. While you COULD try to fix this by manually adjusting your template, it’s more than likely that this is actually a near-impossible task, which makes it much quicker and easier to produce your labels by oversizing your design slightly to prevent any white edges from appearing at all.

This means that the outer edges of your design will sit outside the edges of your labels – in other words, your design “bleeds over” into the non-label areas of your label sheets. While you CAN achieve this effect using a standard template (and simply oversizing your design as needed), you can also use a purposely designed “Bleed Template”, which will have a “bleed area” included around each label in the template.

There are a few different ways that this bleed area can be created but to keep things simple, we’ll take a look at the ways WE have created bleed areas in our bleed templates.

PDF TEMPLATES
In our PDF templates, each label is represented by a solid black outline and the bleed area around each label is outlined by a dotted grey line (meaning that the “bleed area” is the area between the solid black line outlining the label and the dotted grey line outlining the extent of the bleed area).

WORD TEMPLATES
In our Word templates, we have merged the bleed area with the area that represents each label on a sheet; in some cases, where the gap between each column of labels is larger than the gap between each row of labels, there will still be a blank column representing the gap between the labels (and their respective bleed areas), but most of our bleed templates will not show any gaps between the labels. Generally speaking, therefore, the areas that are outlined in these templates show the labels themselves COMBINED with their respective bleed areas.

SO, WHEN & HOW SHOULD YOU USE A BLEED TEMPLATE?
You should use a bleed template if you want to create a label design with a coloured background (e.g. with a coloured background, full size image, or a border) AND the label size you are using has gaps between and around each label.

It is possible to use bleed with labels that don’t have gaps between and around each label BUT only if your design is consistent around its edges; you can simply oversize your design in a standard template to avoid white edging BUT if your design changes colour and the edges do not match then you may end up with inconsistencies in your printed labels. For example, if you oversize a photo of a landscape (where the background shifts from blue sky at the top to green fields at the bottom), you may end up with the bottom edge of the landscape printing onto the top of the label below it (so you have a green edge where it should be blue).

This also means that you can’t create specific bleed templates for these label sizes and layouts; you would end up placing bleed areas within areas that represent actual labels on your sheet, which would obviously cause problems when you try to add your design to these overlapping areas.

For each of our label sizes where it is possible to create a bleed template, we have tried to include as much bleed area as is physically possible on that particular label size and layout. This is determined by taking the size of the gaps between the rows and/or columns of labels and halving this measurement. As shown above in our LP15/51R Word Bleed Template, the gaps between the rows and columns is 2mm, which allows for a bleed area of 1mm all the way around each label. Where the gaps between the rows and columns differ in size, we take the smaller measurement; for example, in our LP24/45R label size, the gap between the rows of labels is 3mm and the gap between the columns is 4mm – in order to create a CONSISTENT bleed area all the way around each label, we take the smaller measurement (3mm) to determine that the bleed area available for this label size is 1.5mm.

When using a bleed template, you simply need to add your label design to the template so that the outermost points of your design fall into the bleed area provided. While you DON’T have to fill the bleed area, you DO need to make sure that your design doesn’t extend beyond the limits of the bleed area (otherwise it may end up creeping onto another label) AND that any important elements within your design don’t fall into the bleed area (otherwise they will be cut off).

In other words, if your design contains important elements at the very edges of your labels you will need to extend your design so that these elements remain within the labels themselves, while the extended area falls into the bleed area and can be safely discarded.

When using Word Bleed Templates, you will need to take additional care because they only show the combination of each label and its bleed area (i.e. they do not show where a label finishes and the bleed area starts); this means that you will need to CENTRE your design (so that its edges fall into the bleed area) and – as always – we strongly recommend doing a test print of your template onto paper so that you can double check if your design will be printed correctly (and make amendments if necessary).

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Top Tips For…Rectangular Labels

Designing A Label Template – How To Create Window Stickers Using A Mirrored Template In Word

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

This week on Template Tuesday, we’re taking a look at Mirrored Templates; these are templates that contain a label design in reverse (i.e. that is “mirrored”) so that it can be printed onto transparent labels that will be stuck onto one side of a glass object (e.g. a window) and viewed from the other side.

Some printers actually offer a “mirrored” or “reversed” print setting, which will take a standard (non-mirrored) template, reverse it, and print this reversed version onto your labels. If, however, you don’t have this option available to you, you will need to create a mirrored template.

While graphics packages (such as Indesign, Photoshop, Illustrator etc) will allow you to easily manipulate your design to create a mirrored template, it isn’t always as straightforward when it comes to finding the right tools in Word.

Basically, what you need to do is to flip or reverse the items in your label design to create a mirrored or reversed version.

NB: remember, you only need to do this for items that include some element that needs to be viewed in a specific direction; e.g. text, arrows, or images containing text.

There are TWO ways to mirror an item in Word (depending on the type of item you need to mirror):

FLIP

This is the quickest method; you simply left click once on your item to bring up the relevant “Format” tab at the top of the page (i.e. Picture Tools for images and Drawing Tools for shapes, text boxes, and WordArt), then click on the “Rotate” tool in the “Arrange” section and select “Flip Horizontal”.

The only problem with this method is that it doesn’t work for items like text boxes and WordArt; if you use this tool on these items, it will simply flip the text box that contains your text or the background to your WordArt and not the text itself.

ROTATE

This method involves a few more steps BUT can be used on images, shapes, text boxes, and WordArt. First you left click once on your item to bring up the relevant “Format” tab at the top of the page, and follow these steps depending on the item you are reversing:

IMAGES:
Click “Picture Effects”, then “3-D Rotation”, and select “3-D Rotation Options” – change the value of “X Rotation” to 180.

SHAPES:
Click “Shape Effects”, then “3-D Rotation”, and select “3-D Rotation Options” – change the value of “X Rotation” to 180.

WORDART & TEXT BOXES (to mirror the text AND its background):
Click “Shape Effects”, then “3-D Rotation”, and select “3-D Rotation Options” – change the value of “X Rotation” to 180.

NB: if you haven’t added a background to your text box, you may find that following these steps adds a pale grey background to your text. To change this back (or to add a background), you will need to click on the “Drawing Tools Format” tab at the top of the page, click on the “Shape Fill” option in the “Shape Styles” section of the ribbon, and select the colour you want to use for the background of your text box (if you don’t want ANY background colour, then choose “No Fill”).

WORDART & TEXT BOXES (to mirror the TEXT ONLY):
Click “Text Effects”, then “3-D Rotation”, and select “3-D Rotation Options” – change the value of “X Rotation” to 180.

After reversing a text box or WordArt, the text will automatically be reversed back to its “normal” direction when you left click on it once (allowing you to read the text properly while you make changes) before returning to its reversed form when you click outside of the item.


We supply mirrored Word templates for all of the label sizes that are available in our transparent label materials; these can be found on the template information page for these sizes under the “Word Templates” column (called “Mirror Portrait” and “Mirror Landscape”). These templates contain a mirrored text box in each label. You can, of course, delete these text boxes if you want to create a mirrored design that doesn’t use a text box (for example, if you just want to print a mirrored image) or you can use one of our standard templates and apply the methods described above to create your own mirrored design.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – When & How To Use A Bleed Template

Designing A Label Template – Labels & Mail Merges 101

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

If you are printing your own labels using Microsoft Word and you need to add different information to each label then you definitely need to know about Mail Merges.

A mail merge basically takes a single document (e.g. a letter or a label template) and a data source (e.g. a spreadsheet of addresses or a database of product information) and merges the two together to create multiple documents (or labels) that share the same basic design but are uniquely personalised with the information from each of the records within the data source. In other words, for example, you end up with 50 letters that are personalised with each recipient’s name and address OR you end up with a set of 100 labels that share the same basic design but are personalised with a different product number.

There are a few different ways to complete a mail merge but this post will focus on the Mail Merge tool that is built into Word – and specifically how to use the “Step By Step Mail Merge Wizard” to design a set of labels that share a common design but are allocated unique information from a data source.

To begin the Mail Merge Wizard, you simply open Word, create a blank starting document, click on the “Mailings” tab at the top of the page, and then click on “Start Mail Merge” and select “Step By Step Mail Merge Wizard” from the drop down menu.

The Wizard then guides you through the SIX steps involved in completing a mail merge, which go something like this:

Step 1: Select document type
As the mail merge tool can be used to create a variety of documents, first you need to let Word know what sort of document you are creating: to do this, simply click on “Labels” in the Mail Merge Wizard panel on the right hand side.

Step 2: Select starting document
You now have the choice of using a template that you have downloaded from somewhere else or made yourself (using the “Start from existing document” option) or using a built-in template that is compatible with your labels (using “Change document layout” and “Label options”).

For example, our label size LP21/63 is compatible with Avery code L7160, so you would click on “Change document layout” and then “Label options”, make sure that the Label vendor is set to “Avery A4/A5”, and choose L7160 from the list – as shown below.

While you can use a standalone template OR a built-in template, you need to bear in mind that the Mail Merge tool will work more efficiently with a built-in template because Word is updating a template that is basically a part of itself (allowing the Mail Merge steps to be completed automatically) – if you use a standalone template, however, you will need to perform some of the steps yourself.

Step 3: Select recipients
Next you select the data source that you want to use for your mail merge; you can create your list at this point but it’s generally easier (and quicker) if you’ve already got your data source set up and saved somewhere before starting your mail merge.  Click on “Browse” to navigate to the folder where your data source is saved.

First you will be shown a pop up box titled “Select Table”, which allows you to do TWO key things:

  1. If your data source contains multiple tables (or sheets, if you are using a spreadsheet), then you need to indicate which table or sheet holds the information that you want to add to your labels.
  2. You can also let Word know if your data source has column headers for your data (for example, if the top row in your spreadsheet indicates the contents of each column – e.g. “Name”, “Address Line 1”, “Product Code”, “Price” etc).

Next, you will be shown another pop up box titled “Mail Merge Recipients”; this shows you a list of the records that will be used to populate your labels – you can sort and filter your data at this point to exclude any records that you don’t want to use.

Once you have confirmed that you are happy with your list (by clicking “OK”), the wizard will then automatically add the rule “Next Record” to each label in your template (apart from the first, top left, label) – as shown below.

STANDALONE TEMPLATE: if you are using a standalone template, you will need to add the “Next Record” rule yourself. You left click once inside the second label in your template and then click on the “Rules” button in the “Mailings” tab at the top of the page and select “Next Record” from the drop down menu. You can then repeat this for the remaining labels OR you can copy the rule you have already added and paste it into the rest of the labels.

Step 4: Arrange your labels
This is the stage where you add your label design; as always, the best way to do this is to add your design to the top left label before copying this into the rest of your labels – the Mail Merge even provides a useful button (“Update all labels”) that does this for you automatically.

When you want to add a piece of information from your data source, you need to add a placeholder to your design – this takes the form of the column header you provided in your data source enclosed by two outward facing arrow heads (known as “guillemets” or “double angle quotation marks”) – like this: «column_header». You can either use preformatted options (e.g. the “Address block” and “Greeting line” options shown in the Mail Merge Wizard panel) or you can manually add a piece of information by clicking on the “More items” option.

In our example, we have added a company logo to the top right corner of the label, added a placeholder in a large bold font for the product code, and added text and placeholders for the rest of the information that is to be added to our labels (Label Size, Labels Per Sheet, Avery Code, Sheets Per Pack, Labels Per Pack, and Price). The text that does NOT have guillemets will remain as part of the design, while the placeholders enclosed by the guillemets will be replaced by the information from the data source that they represent.

REMEMBER: the information that replaces your placeholders may take up MORE space or LESS space once you complete the merge. You can check this in the next step (Preview your labels) and you can go back and forth as many times as you need to make sure your design and your information merge together in a way that fits neatly onto each label.

If you do need to make any changes, remember you only need to make them to the top left label before using the “Update all labels” to add your updates to the rest of the labels.

STANDALONE TEMPLATE: if you are using a standalone template, the “Update all labels” button is not available and you will need to add your design to the rest of your labels using the usual “copy and paste” method.

Please note that you MUST ensure that the “Next Record” rule sits at the start of each label, otherwise your labels will not be updated with the correct set of information from your data source.

Step 5: Preview your labels
At this point, the wizard will create a mock-up of what your finished label template will look like – so you can check for any errors or problems in your design (and correct them) before you complete your merge.

We recommend scrolling through a few of your “recipients” (i.e. the records in your data source) to make sure that your information fits neatly into your label design – ideally, if you know that a particular record contains information that is longer than the other records you should make a point of checking how that record fits into your label design (you can use the “Find a recipient” option in the wizard panel to do this).

For example, some people who use the Mail Merge tool to print address labels will assume that they can go ahead and print their labels because the preview of the first few addresses in their data source looks fine – unfortunately, when they go on to print the full set of labels, they discover that some records have more address lines and this pushes their design (and their addresses) off the edge(s) of their labels.

If you do find that you have one or two records that contain information that doesn’t quite fit into your design, remember you have the option of going back to the previous step and changing your label design slightly OR you can use the “Edit recipient list” in the Mail Merge Wizard panel to edit the information for those records (if you can) so you don’t have to change your whole design for the sake of a few records.

Step 6: Complete the merge
Finally, you can complete the merge and print your finished labels.

BUT DON’T JUST YET!

As always, here at Label Planet, we recommend using a little caution and doing a test print before you print your full set of labels onto your label sheets. Click on “Print”, select the bottom option, and enter “1” into the “From” field and enter the number of labels per sheet in the “To” field (in our example, we’re printing LP21/63, which has 21 labels per sheet – so we would enter 1 in the “From” field and 21 in the “To” field). This will print one sheet only and will allow you to double check that your template will print onto your labels with the correct alignment before you print your full set of labels.

Remember, after you select the records you want to print, you will be directed to the Printer Properties box; you should take a moment to go through the settings to make sure your printer is correctly set up for printing onto A4 label sheets as follows:

  • Select a specific “Labels” or “Heavy Paper” print option
  • Make sure the page size is set to A4
  • Make sure your printer is set up to print to the media bypass tray
  • Make sure no scaling options are selected (e.g. “Fit to page” / “Fit to sheet” / any percentage less than 100%)
  • Make sure no options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Default/Driver Settings” are selected

Once you are happy with your test print you can load your labels into your printer (making sure that you use the media bypass tray if your printer has one) and print your full set of labels.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – How To Create Window Stickers Using A Mirrored Template In Word

Designing A Label Template – Using Word’s Arrange Toolbar To Create A Perfectly Arranged Template

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Last Template Tuesday was all about the design tools available in Word; this Template Tuesday, we’ll be taking a closer look at ONE of these design tools categories – “Arrange” – and how it can help you to arrange all of the different elements within your Word label template so that they slot into place to form your final finished design.

The “Arrange” group of tools is available on both the “Picture Tools” and “Drawing Tools” format tabs, which means that you can use these tools to arrange all of the different types of objects that you might use to create a label design in Word – including images, text boxes, WordArt, and shapes. The “Arrange” section is positioned towards the right-hand side of the format toolbars (as shown below) and contains eight different tools that you can use to arrange your design elements.

TOOL ONE: POSITION
This option determines where your item will appear relative to the page AND how your text will be positioned around your item; there are NINE options available to choose from (excluding the default “In Line With Text” option, which is automatically applied to new items unless you select another option).

The default option will insert your item into the specific position that you selected before adding your item (i.e. wherever your text cursor was positioned before you inserted your item) and will align your item so that its bottom edge lines up with the line of text at that position – if you haven’t added any text yet, it will be aligned with the blank space Word provides because it assumes you will want to add text at some point!

The other nine options position your item according to the most extreme or central points on your page – i.e. the top left corner, the centre of the top edge of your page, the top right corner, the centre of the left edge of your page, the centre of your page, the centre of the right edge of your page, the bottom left corner, the centre of the bottom edge of your page, and the bottom right corner – and will then position any text you have added around your item.

Unfortunately, while this tool can be useful if you are creating a particular page layout for a document such as a letter or brochure, this tool isn’t all that useful for label templates where you need to arrange items WITHIN the TEMPLATE and not WITHIN the PAGE.

TOOL TWO: WRAP TEXT
Perhaps the MOST USEFUL tool when it comes to creating label templates that contain different items (especially text and something else – like an image); this tool allows you to choose how you want your text to fit around a particular item. This is especially important in Word because – as its default setting – Word will prioritise text over anything else that you add (even if you don’t actually add any text), which means that it will position your text FIRST (or a blank space for the text that it assumes you want to add) and then position everything else around that text (or blank space).

This default setting is called “In Line With Text” and you should ALWAYS change this for any item that you add to your label template to give yourself greater control over the positioning of that item – not only because it allows you to position your text around your items (rather than your items around your text) but also because it allows you to use design tools that are otherwise unavailable to you while the “In Line With Text” setting is applied (TOP TIP: if you are ever trying to change an item in Word and the option you want to use is greyed out you should try changing the Wrap Text option applied to that item first).

While the Wrap Text option that you choose will depend entirely on what you want to do with your item, we particularly recommend “Tight” and “In Front Of Text” as these options are generally the most effective solutions for most label templates created in Word – although you should be able to use any of the options successfully (just as long as you avoid “In Front Of Text”!)

  • SQUARE: this creates a square (or rectangular) box around the edges of your item – known as a “bounding box” – and positions your text around the outside of this box.
  • TIGHT: this option positions your text around the actual edges of your item; while you won’t see much of a difference if your item is square or rectangular (for example, a rectangular text box), you will notice that the text is positioned much differently if your item is a different shape (such as a circle or oval).
  • THROUGH: this option gives you even finer control than “Tight” – although you do need to add in another step to get the full effect. This option allows you to position text so that it follows the shape of your item INCLUDING any “white space” (a blank space) within your item. For example, if you have an image that has a blank space in the top right corner, you can allow your text to be positioned within that area but not over the rest of the image. To do this, you need to select the “Through” option and then use the “Edit Wrap Points” option in the Wrap Text drop down menu to indicate which areas of your item you want your text to occupy.
    Please note: to do this you MUST use an item that has a TRANSPARENT background layer to allow your text to show through the transparent “white space”. If your item has a solid colour as its background layer (even if this is white) then this colour will sit in front of your text and prevent it from being visible.
  • TOP & BOTTOM: this option places your item on its own (individually sized) line with your text sitting in lines above and below the top and bottom edges of your item respectively.
  • BEHIND TEXT: this option places your item on a different layer to your text and positions that layer behind the text layer; this option gives you much greater control over where your item is positioned and can be used to create a “background” to your text BUT you need to take care that you don’t end up positioning your item behind the table that provides the outline of your labels or other items that you are using to create your label design.
  • IN FRONT OF TEXT: similarly, this option places your item on a different layer to your text but this option places it in front of your text layer (rather than behind it); this option can be an ideal way to control the position of items BUT might prove a bit cumbersome if you are trying to place multiple items in very specific positions to create your final design.

Please note: you can control how closely your text sits to your item by clicking on “More Layout Options” in the Wrap Text drop down menu and then increasing or decreasing the Top/Bottom/Left/Right “Distance from text” options at the bottom of the pop-up box that appears.

TOOLS THREE & FOUR: BRING FORWARD / SEND BACKWARD
These are the tools you’ll need to use if you want to layer multiple items to create your overall design. There are THREE options available for each type of “movement”:

  • Bring Forward / Send Backward: this moves your item forward or backwards by ONE layer.
  • Bring To Front / Send To Back: this makes your item either the very top or very bottom layer in your design construction.
  • Bring In Front Of Text / Send Behind Text: as we’ve mentioned Word always prioritises text, so it will always put layers that contain text in front of other items – these options allow you to move your items in front of or behind your text layer(s).

TOOL FIVE: SELECTION PANE
This tool comes in useful if you’re creating a label design with a LOT of different items; when you select this tool, it creates a list of ALL of the items that you’ve added to your label template, allowing you to select one simply by clicking on its name in the selection pane list – which is ideal if one of your items has accidentally ended up behind another item so you can’t click on that first item to move it somewhere else or to bring it in front of the second item.

TOOL SIX: ALIGN
Like “Position”, this option allows you to change the position of your item on the page BUT it doesn’t change the way your text is positioned around that item and it is designed specifically for positioning items RELATIVE to another item or to the page itself (or the page margins). This tool can be useful when distributing items across a label design BUT will “snap” items into specific positions based on predetermined gridlines in your document. While you CAN change the sizing of these gridlines to give yourself more control, you may find that the tool doesn’t give you quite as much “freehand” control as you’d like.

TOOL SEVEN: GROUP
An excellent tool if you need to move ALL of the items in your label design by the same amount in the same direction. This tool allows you to select all of your items and then “group” them into a single item; this means you can move your items together, in exactly the same way, and maintain the spacing between them as you do so (compared to trying to move all of your items individually, which is unlikely to produce the accuracy you need).

TOOL EIGHT: ROTATE (AND FLIP)
You can use this tool to rotate items (for example, to change an image from portrait to landscape) or to flip items horizontally or vertically (which is particularly useful if you need to create a mirrored template – we’ll be talking about these types of templates in a later blog post).

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Labels & Mail Merges 101