Archive for the ‘Printing Templates’ Category

Printing A Label Template – Top Tips For Loading Your Labels To Align Your Design Perfectly

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Yes, we do have “top tips” for loading your sheet labels into your printer!

Even if you’ve created a perfect label template, chosen the perfect printer, and carefully selected the perfect set of print settings, you can undo all of your hard work in an instant, simply by not taking a bit of care when you load your A4 labels into your printer.

The fact is that as soon as you press print you are entrusting a set of precise digital instructions to a machine that has to physically manoeuvre your sheet labels through multiple sets of rollers while recreating your label template.

Printers are designed to process sheets as efficiently as possible but there is always a risk that sheets can become misaligned or rotate as they are fed through each set of rollers – especially in older printers or in printers that are regularly used for high volume printing tasks.

While there is very little you can do to improve how smoothly your printer processes sheets (other than periodically cleaning the rollers with an acetone – e.g. a non-oily nail varnish remover – and/or a label remover if you regularly print adhesive labels), you can at least give yourself a head start and reduce the risk of alignment issues simply by making sure that you load your blank labels carefully and correctly into your printer.

Label Planet’s Top Tips For Loading Self Adhesive Labels

1. Fan your labels before loading them into your printer

Gently fan or flip through your blank labels to separate the individual sheets and remove any traces of static that could cause your sheets to jam in your printer.

2. Use the media bypass tray and align the guides carefully along the edges of your sheet labels

If your printer has a media bypass tray you should ALWAYS use it to print self adhesive labels; A4 labels are constructed from AT LEAST three layers (a face material, an adhesive layer, and a backing sheet) making them much thicker than standard sheets of paper, which is what the main paper tray is designed to handle.

The media bypass tray is a secondary tray that is designed specifically to process thicker print media and – because of its position just above or below the paper tray – it bypasses at least one set of rollers, creating a straighter path through the printer and significantly reducing the chances of your sticky labels rotating as they are pulled through the printer.

Before putting your blank labels into your printer, knock them against an even surface to make sure that all of the sheets are lined up neatly so that you know they will at least all start in a completely straight position before you press print. Make sure that the guides in the printer tray are gently resting against the edges of your sheet labels; these guides help to ensure that your sheet labels feed into the printer in a straight path when the pick up roller pulls them into the printer.

3. Load your printer labels so that they feed into your printer narrow edge leading

Your printer labels must always be fed into the printer in a portrait orientation so that the narrowest edge (i.e. the edge that measures 210mm wide) enters the printer first. At Label Planet, our label sizes are made with layouts that have been selected specifically to reduce the chances of your sticky labels separating from their backing sheet during the printing process – as long as they are fed narrow edge leading.

It is also especially important to feed paper labels in this way because they have a grain that runs from the top to the bottom of each sheet (when held portrait); if you try to feed paper labels into a printer against the grain (i.e. with the widest edge leading), it is more than likely that the sheets will jam.

4. Try manually feeding individual sheets or batches of sheets for bulk print jobs

If you need to print a high volume of self adhesive labels in one go, you might be tempted to simply load all of your sheet labels into your printer at once. Printing self adhesive labels is a much more intensive process than printing standard sheets of labels, which can lead to printers overheating (especially laser printers, which use heat to bond toner onto a surface) and struggling to feed each sheet smoothly and accurately (resulting in sheets rotating, misfeeding, and even jamming completely).

To help avoid these problems, we recommend manually feeding your blank labels into your printer – either as individual sheets or in smaller batches – to allow your printer time to process your sheets more efficiently.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Printing A Label Template – The First Rule Of Printing Labels: ALWAYS DO A TEST PRINT FIRST

Printing A Label Template – Choosing The Right Print Settings To Print Your Labels

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Last week’s Template Tuesday talked about choosing the “right” printer to print a label template onto blank labels; this week, we’ll talk you through choosing the “right” print settings to print your label template accurately and efficiently.

Modern desktop printers offer a HUGE range of print settings so your printer can adapt to a wide range of printing tasks – and produce the best possible print quality and accuracy for the specific document and print media that you want to print. While some “smart printers” make basic assumptions about what you want to print (and select the right print settings for you), generally speaking it is up to you to choose the right settings.

If you don’t, your printer will simply use the default settings installed in its software (the printer driver) or – worse – will use the settings selected for its last print job; in either case, it’s likely that those settings won’t print your label template accurately and to a high enough quality. Self adhesive labels are VERY different to other print media and require a much more specific printing process (created by choosing the right set of print settings) to print successfully.

So, before you print your label template, you should first click on “Printer Properties”//“Printing Preferences” and make sure that:

1. The PAGE SIZE is set to A4.

Occasionally, printers revert to default settings stored in the print driver and – in some cases – this will be the American page size “Letter”. It is also possible that your printer is using a page size from a previous print job.

2. There are NO SCALING options selected.

This includes any percentage less than 100% and any settings that refer to scaling or otherwise manipulating the page size or document size (e.g. “Fit To Sheet” and “Fit To Page”).

3. The printer isn’t using DEFAULT SETTINGS.

Some desktop printers have a general option that instructs the printer to ignore any specific print settings you select in favour of those stored in the printer driver (usually called “Ignore Printer Settings”, “Use Default Settings”, or “Use Driver Settings”).

4. The MEDIA TYPE & MEDIA WEIGHT settings are appropriate for self adhesive labels.

These settings adjust how your printer works to suit specific print media; for example, when printing laser labels, you can adjust the print settings so the printer processes each sheet more slowly AND applies more heat to ensure that the toner bonds perfectly with your blank labels.

Some printers group these two items together; where possible, set the media type to a specific “Labels” setting and match the media weight to the printer labels you are using. If your printer doesn’t offer a specific “Labels” settings, select the closest alternative (consult your printer manual and/or the manufacturer’s support pages online to see what is recommended).

Most printers list media weight settings as a general description followed by a specific range of weights, such as “Light (60-64 gsm)” or “Heavy (105-120 gsm)”. Generally, you should use a “Heavy” print setting for printer labels but check your printer’s manual for further advice. Our website includes Material Specification Sheets, which list the weights of all of our blank labels to help you pick the right media weight setting.

NB: our Security Labels (SVP and TEV) and Silver Polyester Labels (SMP) should be printed using “Paper” print settings.

5. The PRINT QUALITY setting is appropriate for the level of detail (resolution) needed to print your label template.

If you are printing a basic text-based label template (e.g. address labels and shipping labels, ingredients on food labels, instructions for use on products labels etc), then you can use the default print quality setting. If your label template contains images (especially photographs) or high resolution artwork, then you should change the print quality setting so that your printer will print more slowly and at a higher printer resolution.

6. The MEDIA SOURCE is set to the media bypass tray.

Always load printer labels into the media bypass tray (if your printer has one). While some “smart” printers automatically detect when you are printing a label template (and automatically process your sheet labels from the bypass tray), others may not, so it’s always best to tell your printer specifically to use the bypass tray.

7. The FEED DIRECTION is set to Narrow Edge Leading.

Most desktop printers only offer narrow edge feed but if your printer offers both you MUST make set it up to use narrow edge feed. The feed direction refers to the orientation of your sheet labels as they are fed into your printer; during narrow edge leading, the narrowest edge enters the printer first (for A4 labels this is the 210mm wide edge). There are THREE reasons to do this:

  • Paper labels have a grain going from the top to the bottom of a portrait sheet; if you feed your paper labels wide edge leading, the feed direction will go against (perpendicular to) the grain, which can cause your paper labels to jam in your printer.
  • Many label sizes (including all Label Planet’s label sizes) have a layout that is designed to prevent printer labels separating from their backing sheet as they are pulled through/around the rollers – as long as they are fed narrow edge leading.
  • If you load printer labels into the bypass tray narrow edge leading but your print settings are set to wide edge leading, your printer will detect the mismatch and refuse to print your blank labels at all!

If you have ANY doubts about how to set up your printer to print self adhesive labels, consult the printer manual and/or support section of the manufacturer’s website; many manufacturer supply recommended guidelines for specific print tasks (such as printing onto A4 labels).

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Printing A Label Template – Top Tips For Loading Your Labels To Align Your Design Perfectly

Printing A Label Template – Choosing The Right Printer To Print Your Labels

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

People are often surprised at how much of a difference choosing the right printer can make when it comes to printing a label template accurately and effectively.

After all, you follow the same basic process when printing a sheet of paper as you do sheet labels. The problem is that self-adhesive labels are a very different print medium; A4 labels are thicker (with at least three layers – a face material, an adhesive, and a backing sheet) and are made with very different materials (even basic paper labels have special coatings to improve their surface properties), which means they need to be processed differently to allow toner or ink to be applied successfully (and accurately) to their surface.

When we refer to using the “right” printer, we mean a printer that has been designed with the task of printing blank labels in mind and has key features and specifications that allow you to print labels accurately and to the same standard as a basic sheet of paper.

LABEL PLANET’S CHECKLIST FOR PICKING THE PERFECT PRINTER TO PRINT YOUR LABEL TEMPLATE PERFECTLY

1. THE PRINTING METHOD
Some self-adhesive labels are made with materials that are suitable for ONE particular type of printing method; i.e. laser labels must be printed with a laser printer and inkjet labels must be printed with an inkjet printer. Laser labels printed with an inkjet printer won’t dry properly, while inkjet labels printed with a laser printer will have print that cracks and flakes away.

CHOOSE A LASER PRINTER TO PRINT LASER LABELS & AN INKJET PRINTER TO PRINT INKJET LABELS.

2. THE TYPE OF PRINTER
Most desktop printers fall into one of three categories; dedicated printers, multifunction (“all-in-one”) printers, and dedicated application printers (e.g. “photo printers”). “Dedicated” machines perform ONE specific task to an extremely high standard (e.g. printing or printing photographs), while “multifunction” machines can perform multiple tasks to a reasonable standard (e.g. printing AND scanning AND copying AND faxing etc). Printing a label template onto sheet labels accurately and effectively requires specifications and features that are not always provided in “all-in-one” and “photo” printer models because they simply aren’t designed for printing self adhesive labels.

CHOOSE A DEDICATED PRINTER (OR CONSULT THE PRINTER MANUAL TO SEE IF AN ALL-IN-ONE/PHOTO PRINTER CAN PRINT LABELS).

We recommend two brands based on our experiences printing our own address labels, shipping labels, and product labels. OKI and HP supply dedicated printers that are extremely efficient at handling thicker print media – including self adhesive labels – and produce high quality and accurate print on a wide range of printer labels. They also tend to have good duty cycles, which refers to the number of sheets that can be printed in a given timeframe (generally a month) to a consistently high standard without damaging the printer. 

3. THE PRINT MEDIA
“Print media” refers to the different items that can be put into a printer to be printed; the “media type” refers to the specific item you are printing (e.g. plain paper, photo paper, sheet labels, envelopes, films or transparencies etc), while “media weight” refers to its weight – this is the mass per unit area or grammage (g/m² or gsm). Your printer’s manual will list all of the media types and weights that your printer can process (you should never try to to print a media type or weight that is NOT included in the specification as you may damage your printer).

CHOOSE A PRINTER THAT CAN HANDLE SHEET LABELS (OR AT LEAST THICKER MEDIA IN GENERAL). 

4. THE BYPASS TRAY
All printers have at least one tray for loading print media; in most printers this is a PAPER TRAY designed specifically for handling plain paper (80-90gsm). A secondary tray is usually a MEDIA BYPASS TRAY designed specifically for processing thicker print media (such as self adhesive labels). This tray handles different “media” and allows sheets to “bypass” at least one set of rollers in your printer, which provides a straighter path through the printer and reduces the chances of sheets rotating as they are processed by the rollers (improving the accuracy of your printed label template).

CHOOSE A PRINTER WITH A MEDIA BYPASS TRAY.

5. THE RESOLUTION
Printer resolution refers to the number of “dots” of ink or toner that a printer can print within an inch (dots per inch or “dpi”); more dots mean more detail can be added (up to a point), which results in a higher resolution. As a general rule, 300 dpi produces “normal resolution” (good enough for text-based address labels or shipping labels), 600 dpi produces “high resolution” (good for product labels with some basic design-work and/or images), and 1200 dpi produces “photo resolution” (good enough to accurately reproduce digital photographs).

CHOOSE A PRINTER WITH 1200 x 1200 DPI TO PRINT A LABEL TEMPLATE THAT CONTAINS PHOTOS OR DETAILED ARTWORK. 

6. THE EXTRA FEATURES
Some dedicated printer models have additional features designed specifically to improve the print quality and alignment accuracy on printer labels. A common example is “Edge-To-Edge Printing” or “Borderless Printing”; most standard desktop printers cannot print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet but those with edge-to-edge or borderless printing can print the full surface of an A4 sheet. Some label sizes use the full area of an A4 sheet – meaning that, if you can’t print a full A4 sheet, you have to restrict your design to the so-called “printable area” of your particular printer.

CHOOSE A PRINTER WITH SPECIAL FEATURES DESIGNED FOR SELF ADHESIVE LABELS.

The best thing you can do to print a label template successfully is to look through your printer’s manual to see if your printer model can be used to print self adhesive labels (and has specific features that can be used to improve the print quality and accuracy) and if the manufacturer has provided recommendations to follow when printing a label template onto sheet labels.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Printing A Label Template – Choosing The Right Print Settings To Print Your Labels

Printing A Label Template – Printing Templates 101

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

So far on Template Tuesday, we’ve taken a closer look at what label templates actually are and how to add your label design to a template quickly and accurately. This week, we move on to the next step in the process of creating your own labels – printing your label template!

While you might be tempted at this stage to think “well, I’ve set up my template, now all I need to do is press print”, the fact is YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER JUST PRESS PRINT. EVER.

What most people don’t stop to think about is just how many different elements are involved in the process of printing a document. While it might seem like a simply one step process (you press print and a printer prints your document), there are actually a LOT of different elements involved and all of them have to interact in just the right way to create a perfectly printed template.

The Printing Process
Your software (the application you are using to design your label template) sends your template to another piece of software called a printer driver; the driver converts your template into a Page Description Language (which basically describes the content of a page and how that page is arranged or constructed as a series of geometric lines and shapes defined by mathematical equations) that can be understood by your printer – this vector-based language is then converted by a Raster Image Processor into a bitmap image (a rectangular grid of pixels) that your printer then recreates on your labels (using, of course, the print settings that you have selected – or a default set of print settings stored in your printer driver, if you haven’t indicated any printing preferences for your template).

Elements Involved In The Printing Process
Looking through the printing process, therefore, you can see that your software has to communicate properly with your printer driver, and you have to select the correct print settings to get the best possible print alignment and print quality on your labels – which doesn’t take into account the fact that your printed template can also be affected by the print tray you use and how you load your labels into that print tray, the starting print position of your particular printer model, the fact that all labels are made to a tolerance (i.e. an allowable deviation from the stated measurements), and that some labels are designed specifically for ONE printing process (i.e. they are “laser labels” or “inkjet labels”).

Of course, this isn’t to say that you won’t get lucky if you do just press print – it may be that your software, hardware, and labels are all set up in a way that allows you to achieve a decent print alignment and quality without making any adjustments at all.

The problem, of course, is that there is no guarantee that “just pressing print” will work and taking that risk can result in a massive waste of time and money (not to mention a waste of labels, toner or ink, as well as your own patience/sanity).

It is far, far wiser to take the time to load your labels correctly and to set up your printer with the optimum print settings so you KNOW that you will achieve the best possible print alignment and quality.

Over the next few Template Tuesdays, we’ll take you through the different elements involved to help you make sure that YOUR unique combination of hardware and software is correctly set up to print YOUR template onto YOUR labels as accurately and professionally as possible.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Printing A Label Template – Choosing The Right Printer To Print Your Labels