Archive for the ‘Designing Templates’ Category

Designing A Label Template – Troubleshooting Tips For Trouble-Free Label Designs

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

Over the last sixteen weeks, we’ve been taking a closer look at the process of adding a label design to a label template, including advice on implementing a design that works for you, for your labels, and for the limitations of your software (along with specific guides on how to find and use Word’s design tools and features).

This week’s post gathers together all of the content from the last few months to create a hitlist of top tips to make the process of designing your labels as trouble-free as possible.

Presenting Label Planet’s Top Ten Top Tips For Designing Your Own Label Template!

1. Keep Things Simple

Most people print their own labels because it is a quick and easy way for them to create bespoke or personalise labels without having to spend time and money paying a designer and printer to do the job for them. Choosing an overly complex design is a sure-fire way to find yourself wasting time and money trying to replicate a design that far exceeds the limitations of your software, your hardware, and/or your own abilities when it comes to digital design.

2. Plan Your Design Before You Start

Taking a moment to sketch out your design (and type out the contents of your label) is a quick way to double check that:

  • Your design fits onto your labels without looking cluttered or messy
  • Your label design accomplishes what you need it to do AND looks professional

Making changes to a hand-drawn sketch is MUCH quicker and easier than getting partway through your design and realising that it isn’t going to work.

3. Start With The Background & Work Forward

If you’re creating a design with a lot of different elements (that need to be layered or that overlap to create your completed design) then it is always best to start with the “background” layer and work your way forward.

4. Use Cut, Copy, & Paste (Carefully) To Make The Design Process Quicker & More Accurate

Cut, copy, and paste are easy to use functions that can speed up the entire process of designing a label template; you can use these functions to add different elements to your template from an external source AND you can also use them to replicate your design in order to add it to all of the labels within your template. Using copy and paste is a much more accurate way to adjust and/or replicate your design by duplicating one item rather than inserting multiple items and attempting to adjust them one by one AND it can be used to duplicate both content and the formatting options you have applied to your content.

5. Remember That Formatting Matters

If you don’t bother to change certain formatting options from their defaults, you may find that you are limited in the tools that are available to you AND in how accurate you can be with the changes that you make to the various elements within your design – especially when it comes to positioning and layering different elements together.

6. Centralise Your Design

Using a centralised layout makes it easier to make sure that ALL of your design fits neatly onto ALL of your labels – and can avoid problems around the edges of your labels (see tip 7).

7. Take Care At The Edges

If your label design goes all the way to the edge of each label, you need to make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up for alignment nightmares when you come to print your labels; avoid narrow borders (which are nearly impossible to align perfectly) and only use a full colour background if you have space to overlap your design slightly (without creating a mismatch on labels that “butt up” against one another).

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Bleed

While you might be preoccupied with making sure that your design fits INSIDE each label, if you want to add a coloured background or a border you may be better off deliberately oversizing your design so that it overlaps (bleeds over) the edges of your labels to prevent any white edging appearing on your labels.

9. Be Aware Of The Unprintable Area

Most desktop printers cannot print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet, creating an “unprintable area” around the edges of a label sheet; if any part of any of your labels falls into the unprintable area of your particular printer then you need to make sure that your design doesn’t involve adding any print to those parts of your labels.

10. Put Your Text In Text Boxes

If you are creating multiple sections of text, it may be worth putting each section into its own text box so that you have greater control over where the different elements in your design sit on each label. Adding your text as one block and then trying to manually space out your text to create your required design layout is unlikely to give you anything like the precision you need to replicate your design as accurately as you’d like.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Printing A Label Template – Printing Templates 101

Designing A Label Template – Why The Kiss Principle Creates Perfectly Practical Labels

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

If you haven’t heard of it before the “KISS” principle stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid” and states that most things work best if they are kept simple (i.e. they don’t have unnecessary complications) and therefore simplicity should be a key consideration during the design phase.

This principle is a useful concept to keep in mind when it comes to designing and printing your own labels; many people start off with a very complicated (albeit beautiful) design in their head, only to find that it is extremely difficult to reproduce that design accurately – often leading to a waste of time, money, effort, and labels.

Starting off with a simpler, more straightforward design is a quick and easy way to save yourself the headache – with the added benefit that label designs with less content and less complexity often end up looking much cleaner, attractive, and professional than “busy” designs (that often look messy and even illegible).

Here at Label Planet, if you’re doing anything more complicated than a single image or a single block of text, we highly recommend taking a moment to draw a quick sketch of what you want your labels to look like. Simply tracing out where all the bits of your label design should fit can help to give you a better idea of where to start when you come to add your design to your template – and how to go about building up your elements to produce your final design. It also gives you a chance to see if your design actually WORKS in the way you need it to and to play around with different versions to see if there’s a better way of arranging your elements to make your labels more effective.

If you’re also intending to add a LOT of text (for example, a list of ingredients, health and safety warnings, or instructions for use etc), we also recommend taking the time to type up your text FIRST, so you know exactly how much room you need for your text (and how much space is left for adding more decorative elements around your text) – or even if you perhaps need to consider cutting down your text or dividing your text over a couple of labels (rather than scrunching it all up onto one).

While the prospect of designing your own labels might seem like an opportunity to create a really “unique” design, you need to bear in mind that it is YOU who will have to actually recreate your ideas in a label template. You need to consider how confident and experienced you are when it comes to using software for design purposes – as well as how sophisticated (and accurate) your software is when it comes to replicating a design. If your software simply can’t perform a particular task to create a specific part of your design OR if you simply don’t know how to use the more advanced features of your software, then it really may well be worth simplifying things into something that you know you are able to recreate successfully instead of wasting time struggling with something more complicated.

Remember, there are lots of ways to create unique labels that DON’T rely on complicated designs and advanced design tools – and there are plenty of forums and sites available online for you to pick up hints and tips on how to use your software to create some pretty amazing designs and effects.

It’s also worth remembering that you probably decided to design and print your own labels as a way to save yourself some time and money by not dealing with a design company and/or printing company – it’s not worth doing it yourself if you only end up wasting time trying to set up a needlessly complicated design.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Troubleshooting Tips For Trouble-Free Label Designs

Designing A Label Template – Top Tips For…Round Labels & Oval Labels

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

This week, we’re taking a quick look at our top tips for designing ROUND LABELS & OVAL LABELS.

Their curved and ever-changing edges can make these labels a bit more difficult to design (and print) accurately, especially if you need to rely on software (and hardware) that isn’t really geared up for pin-point accuracy when it comes to creating the perfect label design on circular labels and oval labels. HOWEVER, our top tips should help to give you a head start in designing your own round labels and oval labels with as little stress as possible!

TOP TIP NUMBER ONE: always centralise your design.
One of the easiest ways to create beautiful looking labels with a minimal amount of fuss is to centralise your design; this means that your design will be positioned in the centre of each label, which helps to prevent parts of your design getting cut off at the edges and can stop white edging appearing on your labels (this occurs with coloured backgrounds, where the printer doesn’t quite line up your design perfectly, leaving part of the label unprinted – as most labels tend to be white in colour, this is referred to as “white edging” although “blank edging” would probably be more accurate).

At Label Planet, ALL of our label templates are set up with a central alignment so you don’t have to remember to set this up before you start designing.

TOP TIP NUMBER TWO: use a bleed area if you want to add a coloured background and/or border.
A bleed area is basically a blank space outside of the actual area being printed that is used to overlap a design in order to avoid white edging.

Bleed is used for all kinds of printed materials, including labels where the blank spaces between labels can be used as a bleed area. This technique is ideal for designing round labels and oval labels, which always have at least some blank space between and around each label.

Even if there is only a few millimetres between two labels, you can still use this space to avoid white edging. Basically, all you need to do is to very slightly oversize your label design so that its edges overlap each label; when you come to peel your printed labels off their backing sheet, you shouldn’t get any blank unprinted areas at all.

You must make sure that you don’t include any important design elements at the very edges of your labels – if they fall into the bleed area, they will be left behind when you remove your labels from their backing sheet.

TOP TIP NUMBER THREE: use a thick border if you have to use a border at all.
While we’d generally say that borders can be more trouble than they’re worth, if you do absolutely HAVE to have a border on your labels you should make the border as thick as possible so that you can still make use of the bleed technique described above.

It is unlikely that a standard printer would be able to reproduce a very narrow border accurately enough to line up that border perfectly all the way around an oval or circular label – which will probably lead to some white edging. It will also emphasise the fact that your labels are (very slightly) misaligned, which can spoil the overall look and finish of your labels.

To overcome this, you can increase the size of your border so that it will overlap the edges of your labels all the way around – leaving behind a (more or less) even border with no blank unprinted gaps when you remove your labels from their backing sheet.

TOP TIP NUMBER FOUR: accept the limitations of the software you are using.
While some people will make their own labels using graphics software that is designed specifically for creating complex and detailed graphics, other people will be “making do” with software that isn’t really designed for this purpose.

While most software has tools that can be used when designing a label template, they simply won’t be as sophisticated and accurate as those provided in graphics software – and you may need to simplify your design to make sure that it can be replicated by your software.

For example, many people use Word to design labels and, while it is perfectly possible to create decorative AND professional looking round labels and oval labels in Word, you do need to adapt the tools that are available in Word to the task of adding a design to a label template (and have a bit of patience with their limitations).

It is also worth noting that Word is NOT sophisticated enough to create templates that show the outlines of round labels and oval labels. Instead, Word templates are made up of tables that replicate the layout of a sheet of labels; the square or rectangular cells in the table represent the spaces in which each round label or oval label sits (so that the outermost points of each label touches the four sides of the corresponding square or rectangle). This means that you may need to use a bit of trial and error to make sure that your design aligns correctly with your labels (by performing a few test prints onto paper).

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Why The Kiss Principle Creates Perfectly Practical Labels

Designing A Label Template – Top Tips For…Rectangular Labels

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

This week, we’re taking a quick look at our top tips for designing RECTANGULAR LABELS.

TOP TIP NUMBER ONE: check if your labels have rounded (radius) corners or square cut corners.
Square cut corner rectangles have sharp, pointed corners naturally formed by two sides meeting at a 90° angle, while rounded corner rectangles have curved corners that form an arc – the corner radius can vary from a very rounded corner to a very slight arc at the extreme of each corner.

Generally speaking, there isn’t much difference between designing a rounded corner rectangle and a square cut corner rectangle unless you are trying to create a border or shaped element within your design that follows the outline of your labels (radius corners included) exactly.

The other thing to consider is that rounded corner rectangles tend to have selvedges and gaps between (some of) the labels as part of their layout. This means that you are less likely to run into problems with the printable area of your printer (see top tip number 2) or when printing full coloured backgrounds (see top tip number 3) if you are using rounded corner rectangles rather than square cut corner rectangles.

At Label Planet, we specify whether a product has rounded corners or square cut corners in the product description on the individual product page for each item that we supply. Our rectangular paper labels are also sold through two separate range pages; Rectangular Labels With Rounded Corners and Rectangular Labels With Square Cut Corners.

TOP TIP NUMBER TWO: check if your labels have selvedges.
A selvedge is a blank area at the edge of a sheet of labels. This area is used to help make sure that most (if not all) of the surface area of each label falls within the “printable area” of an A4 sheet.

Most desktop printers CANNOT print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet of paper, creating both a “printable area” (in the middle of the sheet) and an “unprintable area” (around the edges of the sheet).

While rounded corner rectangles tend to have selvedges built in to their layouts by default, some square cut corner rectangles are made by simply dividing the full area of an A4 sheet into equally sized rectangles – meaning that part of some of the labels will inevitably fall into the “unprintable area”.

If your labels don’t have selvedges OR if your printer’s printable area doesn’t extend as far as the selvedge that is present on your label sheets, there are a few easy workarounds you can try:

  1. Avoid using full colour backgrounds (so the coloured elements of your design – that actually require print to be added to your labels – will fall into the printable area of your sheets).
  2. Reduce the size of your overall design (so it fits into the printable area of your sheets).
  3. Choose a different label size! It is more than likely that there will be a similar label size available – just with rounded corners.
  4. Get access to a printer with an “Edge-To-Edge” or “Borderless” print setting (this allows the printer to print the full area of an A4 sheet).

We list layout measurements for all of our label sizes on our individual template pages so you can use the page margins to check how much blank space there is at each edge of a particular sheet of labels. Our square cut corner rectangles with selvedges at the top and bottom of each sheet also have an “S” after the first part of the product code (e.g. LP10/105S, LP16/105S DF, LP21/70S MWPO etc).

It is worth checking the page margins of square cut corner rectangles AND rounded corner rectangles because some rounded corner sizes do sit quite close to the edges of their sheets.

If your printer does not have an “Edge-To-Edge” or “Borderless” print setting, you may be able to find the printable area of your printer by visiting the manufacturer’s website or checking your printer’s manual. Alternatively, you can use this quick-fix method to check for yourself:

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Go to the “Layout” tab, click on “Margins” and “Custom Margins”, and change the Top/Bottom/Left/Right margins to 0.
  3. Click on the “Insert” tab, and use the “Shapes” option to add a rectangle that fills the ENTIRE page of your blank document.
    Top Tip: change the colour of the rectangle to a light colour to avoid wasting too much ink/toner.
  4. Print your document (ignore any warnings that your margins are too small and DO NOT allow Word to automatically “fix” your margins).
  5. Your printed sheet will now indicate how much of an A4 sheet your printer can print (i.e. its printable area) and how much it cannot print (i.e. its unprintable area).

TOP TIP NUMBER THREE: take care with full colour backgrounds and borders.
There are very few rectangular label sizes that feature gaps between the rows AND columns of labels; while this isn’t an issue for most people, it can become problematic if you are trying to add a full colour background and/or border to your label design. This is because it can be tricky to get a standard printer to print EVERY label in EXACTLY the right position on your label sheets; if the alignment is even slightly out, you can end up with part of your label design overlapping the edge(s) of your labels and (if your labels don’t have gaps between them) partially printing on another label.

If the edges of your label design are all the same colour, then you might be able to get away with a very slight misalignment BUT if the edges change colour at all then any misalignment will show up when you remove a label from its backing sheet.

Usually, the way to sidestep this problem is to use of “bleed areas”; i.e. to deliberately overlap your design into a blank space around each label so that the full colour background or border extends beyond all of the edges of your labels (preventing both white edging and overlapping onto neighbouring labels).

As mentioned, however, most rectangular sizes don’t have gaps between the labels; while rounded corner rectangles tend to have gaps between the columns of labels, both rounded corner and square cut corner rectangles will have at least some labels that “butt up” against each other along one or more of their sides.

This means that if you are struggling with your alignment, you may need to try:

  1. Changing your design so that the background and/or border are uniform in colour all the way around each label (so it is possible to disguise any slight overlap).
  2. Reduce the size of your design to create a blank/white border around the edges of your labels.
  3. Remove the coloured background and/or border from your label design altogether.
  4. Choosing a different label size! There may be a close label size that does feature gaps between all of the labels.
  5. Take your labels to a professional printer; they will have access to printers that offer a higher level of precision than standard desktop printers (allowing them to recreate your design with enough accuracy to prevent any noticeable overlap).

TOP TIP NUMBER FOUR: use your alignment tools to keep your label design organised.
Many rectangular label designs will contain a number of different elements or areas within the design, such as a space for a company logo, an address, a message, health and safety warnings, contents, or even a blank space to add information.

To keep all of those elements under control within one label design, you can use alignment tools to assign each element a particular alignment to help keep it out of the way of other elements in your design.

For example, while it’s always best to use a central alignment for your overall template, you can alter the alignment for individual items to make sure that items that should be on the left of your design are always positioned to the left, while items that should be on the right of your design are always positioned to the right.

Remember, if you are including multiple elements in your label design and you are using Word, you should change the “Wrap Text” option for images and shapes to “Tight” (or “In Front Of Text”) and consider using text boxes if you want to be able to precisely position separate sections of text.

You can find templates and material options for all of our rectangular label sizes on our Templates For Rectangular Labels With Rounded Corners and Templates For Rectangular Labels With Square Cut Corners pages.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Top Tips For…Round Labels & Oval Labels

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.

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).

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.

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):


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.


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:

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

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”).

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.


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.

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

Designing A Label Template – Finding Word’s Design Tools & Features

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

For many people, Word is a simple way to create the documents they need on a day to day basis, and they use the same tools and features over and over again with few, if any, difficulties. When, however, they need to use Word for something a little different – say, to design and print their own labels – it can become quite a frustrating territory to navigate, especially when they need to find tools that they have never needed to use before.

Over the years, Word has been adapted and updated to make it easier to use and sleeker in design; unfortunately, some people struggle with the layout and navigation of Word, which can make it difficult for them to find the tools they need (and make simple tasks much harder and more time consuming to complete).

While Word has added functions to help overcome these issues (such as the introduction in Word 2016 of the “Tell me what you want to do” tool, which provides a shortlist of options based on the information you enter), there are a few basic tips that can help save you plenty of time when it comes to designing a label template in Word.

  • All the tools that you can use to make changes to your Word document (and any items that you add to it) are contained in the “RIBBON” at the top of the page.
  • The tools are grouped into “TABS”, which are displayed above the ribbon.
  • There are two types of tabs:
    “DEFAULT TABS”: these tabs are always visible and include the Home, Insert, Design, Layout, References, Mailings, Review, and View tabs.
    “FORMAT TABS”: these tabs contain formatting tools that relate to different objects (e.g. images, text boxes, shapes, tables etc) and are only visible when you have selected an object or objects. They include the Drawing Tools, Picture Tools, Table Tools Design, and Table Tools Layout tabs.
  • The Picture Tools tab contains tools to edit images and the Drawing Tools tab can be used to edit WordArt, text boxes, and shapes.
  • Built-in Avery templates are accessed through the “Labels” tool in the “Mailings” tab.
  • You can amend the page margins of your template using the “Custom Margins” tool, listed under “Margins” in the “Layout” tab.
  • To add an item to your template you can either use the options listed under the “Insert” tab or use the copy and paste tools listed under the “Home” tab to import items from an external source.
  • Word templates are basically tables where the cells in the table represent the layout of a set of labels on an A4 sheet (including any gaps around or between the labels); to make any amendments to the table, you can use the tools listed under the “Table Tools Design” and “Table Tools Layout” tab.
  • If you cannot see the outline of the table (meaning your Word template appears blank) you have Table Gridlines turned OFF; to turn them on, left click in the centre of the page to bring up the Table Tools Layout tab and then click on the “View Gridlines” button on the left hand side of the ribbon.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Using Word’s Arrange Toolbar To Create A Perfectly Arranged Template

Designing A Label Template – Tops Tips For Combining Text & Images In Word

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Over the last two Template Tuesdays, we’ve looked at text-only and image-only label designs; this week, we’re offering a few top tips to help overcome the problems that can arise when you need to create a label design in Word that combines the two together.

As we’ve mentioned before, Word is Word Processing software and was designed specifically for adding and editing text. While it offers some basic functions and tools for working with other elements (like images), Word will always prioritise text over anything else that you add to a document – which can have a nightmarish effect on designing a label template when you need to be able to position text and images closely together (or even layer them) to create the design you want.


  1. For multi-layered designs, plan ahead and decide how you’re going to add each one.
    If your label design is made up of multiple layers, you need to think about how you’re going to create and layer the elements that make up your design. You also need to remember that the template is basically a table, which is a layer in itself (and one that Word expects you to add text to), so you may need to move other elements forward to ensure they remain above the background template layer.
  2. Always change the default “Wrap Text” option for images.
    The default option is “In Line With Text”, which will limit your control over where an image sits in your template. If you want your text and image to sit closely together we recommend choosing the “Tight” option, while if you need to layer an image in front of or behind your text you should select the “In Front Of Text” or “Behind Text” respectively.
  3. Consider putting text into a text box (or WordArt).
    This creates a single object that you can reposition and resize as needed, which gives you much more control than if you simply type your text into each label.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Finding Word’s Design Tools & Features