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

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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).

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

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