Designing A Label Template – Labels & Mail Merges 101

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

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

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

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

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.

TOP TIPS

  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

Designing A Label Template – Getting Inventive With Image-Only Templates

August 15th, 2017

This week’s Template Tuesday is all about image-only label designs. If you are creating an image-only template, it’s more than likely that you will be adding a “full size” image to your labels – in other words, your label design is a single image (e.g. a logo) that fills each label. Usually, these templates are pretty easy to construct; either you have an image already set up and you simply copy and paste this image into your template OR you are using design software to create your design within the label template from scratch.

The main consideration when it comes to using full size images is how the image fits around the edges of your labels – especially if your image has a coloured background. Generally speaking, most software and hardware is limited in the accuracy that it can produce (to within a few mm), which means that you may need to provide some “wiggle-room” in your label design to get the best possible result when printing your own labels.

One of the most common issues is “white edging”; this occurs when your design doesn’t quite fit perfectly onto your labels, which leaves a small area around the edge(s) of your labels unprinted. This can be accounted for by oversizing your image very slightly, so that it overlaps the edges of your labels – the area that the label design occupies around the edge of each label is known as the “bleed” area.

This technique is easy to use on label sizes that have gaps between and around the labels because the bleed area simply fits into these gaps; however, if your labels are “butt cut” (i.e. there is no gap between them so they “butt up” against one another) you may find that your image overlaps onto another label. This won’t matter if the edge of your image is a consistent colour – in fact, this actually helps to prevent white edges appearing – but if your image features any change in colour around its edges, you may end up with a mismatch at the edge of your labels. For example, if you are printing a landscape photograph (with blue sky at the top and a green field at the bottom) you may end up with some of the green field at the bottom of one label overlapping onto the label below it. Without access to pinpoint accurate software and hardware, there is no way to guarantee that your printer will be able to line up each full size image perfectly on each label, so the best thing to do is to either amend your image if you can so that it has a consistent colour around the edges OR to create a border around your image (either by adding a border or by reducing the size of your image to leave a blank area that will serve as a border in itself).

If you do need to use a border to prevent white edging around your labels, we recommend making it quite thick; if you try to create a thin border, you may end up emphasising any slight misalignment in the positioning of your design on each label.

Image-Only Templates In Word
Word can be quite cumbersome when it comes to working with images because it is designed to prioritise text over anything else that you add. It does, however, feature a few design tools that you can use to get better control over the positional accuracy of any images you add. To find the design tools for images, you will first need to select your image by left clicking on it once. This will bring up a new tab at the top of the page called “Picture Tools Format” – as seen below.

Given that Word isn’t great with images, it’s more than likely that the only tools you’ll really need are those located towards the right hand side of this tab – especially those in the “Arrange” section. These tools can help you to exert greater control over where your images are positioned within your template and to create more complicated designs by layering multiple images.

Perhaps the most important tool is the “Wrap Text” option; this tool determines how your image is positioned with regards to any text that you add (or don’t add). While you might be wondering why you would need to know about this option – given that we’re talking about IMAGE-only label designs – the fact is that Word not only prioritises text over any other kind of item that you might add to a Word document, it also assumes that you will – at some point – want to add text and will assign room within your document that would allow you to do so. This often results in images refusing to move to the precise location you want them to occupy – with the result that they either go back to their original location or “snap” into another position entirely. This is caused by the default wrap text option known as “In Line With Text”; like the name suggests, this option causes your image to automatically position itself accordingly so that it is aligned with (and out of the way of) the (non-existent) text that Word assumes you will want to add.

To give yourself better control over images in Word, you should select the “Tight” wrap option or the “In Front Of Text” wrap option, which will give you much finer control over the positioning of your images than the default “In Line With Text”.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Tops Tips For Combining Text & Images In Word

Designing A Label Template – Tackling Text-Only Templates

August 8th, 2017

This week on Template Tuesday, we’re looking at ways to create text-only templates more efficiently. While text-only templates are perhaps the simplest kind of label design, there are still plenty of ways that you can create highly decorative and imaginative label designs.

It all comes down to “TYPOGRAPHY”; the art and technique of arranging type to make written language more legible, readable, and attractive in appearance.

The most drastic change you can make to text is to select a different font or “typeface” (e.g. Calibri, Tahoma, Arial, Times New Roman etc); alternatively, you can make smaller formatting changes to that typeface, such as changing the size, colour, or style (e.g. bold, italic etc). You can also emphasise particular sections of text by using upper and/or lower case letters, using contrasting colours for the text and its background, or playing around with how the characters are distributed in a line of text and how that line is aligned. Some software will also offer design tools such as preset “text effects” that you can use to further enhance the appearance of your text.

CREATING TEXT-ONLY TEMPLATES IN WORD
Word is an example of Word Processing software; it is specifically designed for creating and editing text, which means that it offers plenty of design options when it comes to getting creative with a text-only template. Most of the design options relating to text and fonts are listed under the “Home” tab at the top of the page within the sections “Font”, “Paragraph”, and “Styles”.

The font section contains design options relating to the typeface and font settings, the paragraph section contains options relating to the alignment of text (also known as “justification”), line spacing, and options for adding a border and coloured background to a section of text. Finally, the styles section contains a number of preset style options that you can use to assign a particular appearance and layout to a section of text.

To change any of the font settings for a section of text, you simply need to select the text you want to change and then left click on the option for the font setting you want to change. As a top tip, you can left click on the small diagonal arrow in the bottom right corner of a section to bring up a pop up box that contains all of the font options available(see above); this is particularly useful for the “Font” section as the pop up box contains a small preview section that allows you to see what the font options you are choosing will look like before you make your selection.

Obviously, we can’t discuss Word and text without mentioning WordArt – beloved by pupils and students across the country for the endless hours you can spend perfecting the title of your latest piece of homework (while conveniently putting off working on any actual content).

While WordArt still exists, you can use pretty much all of the same design tools for standard text as you can for text that you add via the WordArt tool. The key benefits of using WordArt (or a text box) are that you have a few more design choices for the text and the border around/background behind that text AND that it places your text within one object that you can move around, reposition, and resize as you wish (making it easier to position different bits of text relative to one another and any other items that you want to include in your design).

To add WordArt or a text box, you simply need to click on the “Insert” tab at the top of the page and select “WordArt” or “Text Box”; to add one of these items, you need to select from one of the preset options – don’t worry if you aren’t sure which one to pick or if you don’t like any of the options available as you can change the formatting of the item after you have added it to your template.

The design tools for WordArt and Text Boxes are the same and are called “Drawing Tools ”; to view these tools you need to select the item by left clicking on it once – this will bring up a “Drawing Tools Format” tab at the top of the page that contains all of the tools that you can use to change the appearance of your WordArt or Text Box. The design tools that change the appearance of the border and background of the WordArt/Text Box are listed in the “Shape Styles” section and those that change the appearance of the text itself are listed in the “WordArt Styles” section.

TOP TIP
It might sound obvious but to change the font settings for a particular bit of text you must first SELECT the text you want to change. This could mean highlighting a particular section of text (position your cursor at the start of the text, then click and hold down your left button as you move your cursor to the end of the text, and release the button) or selecting a piece of WordArt or a text box (left click on the item once).

When working with label templates you can save yourself some time by selecting an entire label (position your cursor in the bottom left corner of the cell and quickly triple click the left button on your mouse) or the entire template (left click once on the four headed arrow that appears at the top left corner of the template) before changing your font settings; this will apply any settings you choose to any text that you add to that label or the entire template.

If you want to use different font settings for different sections of text within your label design, you should set up your label design in the top left label and then use copy and paste to transfer your design into the rest of the template – remember to select the entire label and not just the content within the label, so that when you press copy you will copy both the content AND the formatting settings you have selected (position your cursor in the bottom left corner of the cell and quickly triple click the left button on your mouse).

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Getting Inventive With Image-Only Templates

Designing A Label Template – Choosing Suitable Shapes & Logical Layouts

August 1st, 2017

This week’s Template Tuesday gives a few tips about how to choose the right shape and layout for your label design to help make the process of designing (and printing) your own labels a lot easier, quicker, and a lot more accurate.

Obviously, labels come in all shapes and sizes; here at Label Planet, we supply rectangular labels, circular labels, oval labels, and square labels. When creating a label design, you need to make sure that your design accounts for ANY shaping on your labels as well as how accurate your software and/or printer is when it comes to aligning the shape of your label design with the shape of your labels.

If you want to create a label design that follows the shape of your labels (for example, if you have chosen circular labels and your design features a circular border), you need to consider the fact that this kind of design makes even the slightest misalignment all the more obvious. While you should be able to create a decent set of labels using standard software and hardware, most software and printers are limited in the accuracy they can produce (to around 1-2mm), which means that you won’t be able to print your label template with pinpoint accuracy and so you may need to utilise a few design tricks to help mitigate any slight difference in alignment.

Centralise Your Label Design (If Possible)
As we discussed in last week’s Template Tuesday, centralising your design is a quick and simple way to help improve the accuracy of your alignment when you print. By instructing your template to position your design in the centre of each label, you are far less likely to encounter problems with parts of your design being cut off around the edges of your labels.

It may also be useful to divide your label up into sections and to allocate specific parts of your design to a specific space within your label – this can help to prevent problems with layered designs that can end up looking cluttered and can be tricky to set up accurately in your software. For example, if you want to add a logo, a company name, and an address, you could determine that the address should occupy the bottom half of each label, with the logo in the top left corner, and the company name in the top right corner.

Take Care With Label Designs That Occupy The Edges Of Your Labels
If you are creating a label design that uses the outer edges of your labels (for example, by adding a coloured background, border, or full size image) you will need to put some thought into how you arrange your label design to avoid problems with white edging. White edging occurs when your software and/or hardware isn’t quite accurate enough to position your design perfectly on every single label, which leads to small areas around the edges of your labels being left blank (this problem is called “white” edging because most labels are made with white materials – making “blank edging” a more accurate description if your labels are another colour or transparent).

You can easily overcome this issue by oversizing your design so that it very slightly overlaps each label (e.g. by slightly increasing the size of your image/coloured background/border).

This solution, however, does depend on the layout of your labels; if your labels “butt up” against one another (for example, if there is no gap between the rows and/or columns on a sheet of labels), you may not be able to simply oversize your design – especially if the colouring isn’t consistent all the way around the label. For example, if your label design features a coloured background that starts out red at the top of the label but changes to purple at the bottom of the label and your labels don’t have gaps between the rows of labels, if you try to oversize this background you may end up with the purple at the bottom of one label running over onto the top of the label below it. In this case, you would need to amend your design to give the edges of your labels a consistent colour to avoid white edging AND overlapping colours.

You may also need to put some thought into adapting your design to suit the software and/or hardware you are using. For example, our square labels and our rounded corner rectangle labels have radius corners (the corners are curved rather than forming sharp points); while our PDF templates show the radius corners (allowing you to make sure your design conforms to this extra shaping), Word templates are basically tables made up of straight lines only. While there are some tools in Word that allow you to create shapes with radius corners, you will not have the accuracy offered by graphics software, and so you will have to consider how your design prints out at the corners of each label.

Additionally, if you are printing sheets of labels that use a layout where the labels themselves go right up to the edge of the sheet, you will need to adapt your label design to account for the printable and unprintable areas on the sheet (created by your printer). Standard desktop printers cannot print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet; the area around the edges of the sheet that a printer cannot print is described as the “unprintable” area. If you try to print a label design that uses the full area of each label, you will end up with a blank strip along the edges of the labels that sit at the edges of the sheet. This means that you will need to either reduce the size of your label design in those particular labels OR (perhaps more simply) amend your label design to make it small enough to be printed in full on every single label.

TOP TIPS
Essentially, there are FOUR tops tips that can help to make sure that your label design is suitably shaped and logically laid out.

  1. If you are creating a design that extends all the way to the edges of your labels (i.e. if it contains a full sized image, a coloured background, or a border), you will need to overlap your design slightly to avoid problems with white edging.
  2. Use a centralised design if possible; this helps to avoid parts of your design getting cut off when you print your labels.
  3. Make the most of the shape AND size of your labels; give the different elements in your design their own space so that your design doesn’t rely on multiple elements being layered one on top of another and your labels don’t end up looking cluttered and messy.
  4. If your labels go all the way to the edge of your A4 sheets, make sure your label design doesn’t fall into the unprintable area created by your printer.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Tackling Text-Only Templates

Designing A Label Template – Getting Things In Line With The Perfect Alignment

July 25th, 2017

When it comes to label templates there are two kinds of alignment to contend with; first there is the way that your design is aligned within each label and second is the way that your template is aligned on your label sheets when you print your template. As we are currently looking at designing label templates, today’s Template Tuesday will deal with the former form of alignment to help you to create a decorative and professional looking design that is also practical when it comes to getting your printed alignment just right.

Alignment basically refers to the spacing of two or more items and how they are positioned relative to one another (and possibly any other elements around them). For templates, there are two key elements that need to be aligned:

  • The Template Itself; while most label sheets are centrally aligned (i.e. the labels sit in the middle of the sheet so that the top and bottom page margins and the left and right page margins are equal), some are made with an off-centre alignment (causing the page margins to be unequal).
    In this case, alignment refers to how the labels are positioned relative to the A4 sheet.
  • The Content Of The Template; you can choose how you want your design to be aligned within each label – you could centralise your design (so it sits in the middle of each label) or you could choose an off-centre alignment (so it sits closer to one of the edges of each label). You can also give each element within your design its own alignment in order to position all of the elements in a specific way to create the overall layout that you want for your design.
    In this case, alignment refers to how your design and each element within your design is positioned relative to each label or the other elements within your design.

Generally speaking, you won’t need to worry about the alignment of the template itself as this should already have been established for you by the supplier of the template. When it comes to aligning the content of your template, however, the choice is yours and there are a few different options to choose from. In fact, there are NINE alignment options you can choose, based on where your design or element begins vertically (i.e. if it is positioned towards the top, centre, or bottom of a label) and horizontally (i.e. if it is positioned towards the left, centre, or right of a label):

Align Top Left: your design starts from the top left corner of each label.

Align Top Centre: your design starts from the centre of the top edge of each label.

Align Top Right: your design starts from the top right corner of each label.

Align Centre Left: your design starts from the centre of the left edge of each label.

Align Centre: your design starts from the centre of each label.

Align Centre Right: your design starts from the centre of the right edge of each label.

Align Bottom Left: your design starts from the bottom left corner of each label.

Align Bottom Centre: your design starts from the centre of the bottom edge of each label.

Align Bottom Right: your design starts from the bottom right corner of each label.

When designing a label template, you can usually choose to set an overall alignment for your template (so that any element you add should automatically be given that same alignment) and you can set individual alignments for each of the elements within your design.

For example, in a Word template, you can set an overall alignment for your template (and therefore the design that you add to it) by using the alignment tool under the Table Tools Layout Tab AND you can also set individual alignments for the elements that make up your design (including images, text boxes and shapes, and text) by using the alignment tool under the Picture Tools Format Tab / Drawing Tools Format Tab / Home Tab (respectively).

SET AN OVERALL ALIGNMENT FOR YOUR DESIGN

SET AN ALIGNMENT FOR INDIVIDUAL ELEMENTS WITHIN YOUR DESIGN

While you can choose whatever alignment you prefer, we recommend using a centralised layout if possible. This is because this particular alignment causes your design to start in the centre of each label and to expand outwards from this central point; this can help to prevent problems with parts of your design sitting too close to the edges of your labels (which may result in some parts being cut off when you print your labels), helps to prevent white edging around the edges of your labels (because your coloured background doesn’t sit in the right place to cover the entirety of each label), and gives a well balanced look to your label design.

Obviously, we strongly recommend that – whatever alignment you choose – you should always do a test print before printing onto your labels so that you can confirm that your template and printer will produce the correct alignment on your labels AND that the alignment of your design fits practically and attractively inside each label.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Choosing Suitable Shapes & Logical Layouts

Designing A Label Template – Copy & Paste 102

July 18th, 2017

Over the last two Template Tuesdays we’ve been discussing how “copy and paste” works and how to select items or content (so that you can use copy and paste more efficiently). This Template Tuesday post is all about ways you can combine the two together to create a label template quickly and accurately.

All of our label products are supplied on A4 sheets, which means that all of our label templates represent the layout of all of the labels on a particular sheet. When creating a set of labels that are all the same (or that share common design features), we strongly recommend adding your design to the top left label first and then using copy and paste to add this design to the rest of your labels.

We recommend this particular method for TWO key reasons:

  1. It’s a lot quicker than setting up your label design from scratch in every single label – especially if you are printing a label size that is rather small and so features a lot of labels on a single sheet.
  2. It allows you to create a more accurate template; if you set up your design in each label from scratch there is a possibility that you won’t set it up in exactly the same way and in exactly the same position each time – which could result in slight misliagnments when you print your labels. If, however, you set up your design once and then use copy and paste to replicate that design in exactly the same way and position in the rest of your labels then you know for certain that your template is as accurate as it can possibly be across the whole sheet.

Selecting and copying your design
As we mentioned in last week’s post, you need to select ALL of your label design (including any formatting options you have chosen to use).

In Word, you can do this by moving your cursor to the bottom left corner of the label and then quickly triple clicking the left button on your mouse.

Next, you copy the contents of that label by either clicking on the “Copy” option in the appropriate menu (in Word, copy is listed under the “Home” tab in the ribbon) OR by using the keyboard shortcut of Control Key (Ctrl) + C [Windows] or Command Key (⌘) + C [Mac].

Selecting the rest of your labels and pasting your design into them
This step may be more or less complicated depending on the layout of your label sheets. If there are no gaps between your labels you can simply select all of the labels using the point and click method or the click and drag method and paste your design into the rest of your labels in one go.

However, if there are any gaps between your labels you cannot select the whole template because this will result in your design being pasted into the labels AND the gaps between them – ruining the alignment of your template.

In order to use copy and paste to transfer your design into MULTIPLE labels at once you MUST take care when selecting the destinations for your copied design; the area(s) that you select must MATCH the area(s) that you have copied or you will end up pasting your design into the wrong place(s). 

Selecting labels & pasting your design in a template with no gaps between labels:
Use the point and click method or the click and drag method to select (and highlight) all of the labels in your template. Click on the “Paste” option in the appropriate menu (in Word, paste is listed under the “Home” tab in the ribbon) OR use the keyboard shortcut of Control Key (Ctrl) + V [Windows] or Command Key (⌘) + V [Mac].

Selecting labels & pasting your design in a template with gaps between the columns of labels only:
Use the point and click method to select all of the label columns (avoiding the gap columns). Position your cursor above the first label column until it turns into a small solid black arrow pointing downwards and left click once, then move your cursor above the next label column and hold down the Control Key (Ctrl) [Windows] or Command Key (⌘) [Mac] as you select that label column, and so on until all of the label columns are selected. Then you can paste your design as described above.

Selecting labels & pasting your design in a template with gaps between the columns and rows of labels:
This is the most complicated label layout to paste into because you cannot select entire rows or columns (as you will end up selecting and pasting your design into the gaps between the labels as well as into the labels themselves). However, if you get a bit creative with your selection process and the copy and paste function you can speed things up a bit.

For example, our LP84/46 label size has gaps between the rows and columns. To copy and paste your label design into all of your labels faster than simply pasting into each one individually, follow these simple steps:

  1. Copy and paste your design into each of the labels in the top row (one by one).
  2. Use the click and drag method to select the top TWO rows (this is the top label row and the gap row below it) and copy this selection.
  3. Select the remaining label rows and gap rows EXCEPT for the bottom label row.
  4. Paste your copied area into those rows.
  5. Select the last row that contains your label design and copy that row.
  6. Select the blank bottom label row and paste in your copied area to complete your template.

You can adapt this method however you like to fill in any template where there are gaps between the rows and columns of labels BUT REMEMBER you must match the area you are pasting into with the area that you have copied. For example, if you copy a row of labels and a gap row then the area you paste into must start with a row of labels and end with a gap row – if you copy a label row, the gap row below it, and the label row below that, then you can only paste into an area that contains one label row, the gap row below it, and the label row below that.

Hopefully, you should now be an expert in combining careful selection with copy and paste to create accurate label templates much faster than re-creating your label design in each and every label on your sheet.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Getting Things In Line With The Perfect Alignment

Designing A Label Template – How To Select (Highlight) Content In Word

July 11th, 2017

Last week, we looked the functions cut, copy, and paste; as part of this, we described how – before you cut or copy an item or content – you need to first select the item or content that you want to transfer. While many people will already know how to select items and content, others may not know how to do this, and there are a few hints and tips that can help save you some time. So this week’s blog post will be all about how to select (or highlight) items and content – using Word as an example.

Selecting Items
To select an item you simply need to left click on it once using your mouse; however, depending on the item you need to select, you may need to click in a specific position on the item to select the entire item (rather than just an element within that item).

For example, if you need to select an image or a shape, you can click ANYWHERE within that item to select it. The cursor will change to a white arrow with a four headed black arrow behind it, “sizing handles” (round circles) will appear at the four corners and in the middle of the four sides of the item, and the relevant Format tab will be displayed at the top of the ribbon (for images this is the Picture Tools format tab and for shapes it is the Drawing Tools format tab).

When selecting a text box, however, your cursor must be positioned over one of the edges of the box (and in the shape of a white arrow with a four headed black arrow behind it) to select the whole text box. If you click within the text box (with the cursor as a plain white arrow), you will be selecting the TEXT within the box and not the box itself.

Likewise, if you want to select an entire table, you will need to place your cursor over the box containing a black four headed arrow at the top left of the table. Your cursor will turn into a white arrow with a black four headed arrow behind it and (once you have left clicked to select the table) the table will be highlighted by a light grey background to indicate that the ENTIRE table has been selected.

Selecting Multiple Items
To select multiple items you simply need to hold down the Control Key (Ctrl) [Windows] or Command Key (⌘) [Mac] as you left click on each item in turn. As each subsequent item is selected the sizing handles will appear at the four corners and along the four sides and your cursor will take the shape of a white arrow with a plus sign and a rectangle shape behind it.

NB: if one (or more) of the items you are selecting is an image you will need to change the default Wrap Text format from “In Line With Text” to “Tight” or “In Front Of Text” before you can select the image along with other items. To do this you simply left click on the image to bring up the Picture Tools Format tab at the top of the page, click on Wrap Text, and select “Tight” or “In Front Of Text”.

Alternatively, you can place your cursor above and to the left of the first item you want to select, click and hold down the left button on your mouse as you drag your cursor so that it is positioned below and to the right of the last item, and then release the button. This will highlight all of the items that fall within the area outlined by your starting and finishing positions – so you can cut or copy these items although you won’t be able to move them as you would if you selected them using the point and click method described above.

Selecting Text
You can select text using the click and drag method described above; simply position your cursor at the start of the text you want to select, click and hold down the left button as you move your cursor so that it is positioned at the end of the text you want to select, and then release the button. The text you have selected will now be highlighted by a light grey background.

Selecting The Contents Of A Table Cell
When creating a label template for labels on sheets, we strongly recommend creating your design in the top left label and then using copy and paste to fill in the rest of the labels. This means you need to be able to select your design from the first cell in a way that copies not only the content itself but also any formatting options you have used to create that particular design.

The best way to do this is to:

  • Move your cursor into the bottom left corner of the cell you want to select. Quickly triple click the left button to select the contents of the cell (which will be highlighted by a light grey background).
  • Alternatively, you can move your cursor to the left hand side of the cell you want to select until the cursor turns into a small solid black arrow pointing diagonally up and right. Left click once to select the contents of the cell (which will be highlighted by a light grey background). This method isn’t always available (it depends on how the label template you are using has been formatted) and it can be tricky to get your cursor in precisely the right position to turn it into the small solid black arrow.

Selecting Multiple Cells (To Paste Content)
When filling in the rest of your labels you can simply paste your design into each cell one by one (left click inside a cell once to select it). This method is fine if you only have a few labels per sheet BUT can become quite time consuming if you have a lot of smaller labels to fill in.

In this case you can select all of the cells (if there are NO gaps between the labels) using the click and drag method; position your cursor in the top left cell, click and hold down the left button as you move your cursor to the bottom right cell, and then release the button. All of the cells will be selected and highlighted by a light grey background.

If there ARE any gaps between the labels you CANNOT use this method as it will add your design to the gaps (as well as the labels themselves), which will destroy the alignment of your template.

In this case, you might be able to speed up the process by selecting entire columns using the point and click method; position your cursor at the top of a column until it turns into a small solid black arrow pointing downwards and then left click once to select the entire column. You can select multiple columns by holding down the Control Key (Ctrl) [Windows] or Command Key (⌘) [Mac] as you click above each column. Each cell within a selected column will have a strip of a light grey background going through it (see below). You cannot use this method if there are gaps between the rows of labels as well as between the columns (see next week’s post for further information).

Hopefully, this post should help you to select any content within Word that you need to use to create your label design. Next week we’ll be combining this week’s post and last week’s post (Copy & Paste 101) to guide you through the process of using copy and paste to complete a label template once you have created your design in the top left label.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Copy & Paste 102