Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLIP

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

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

ROTATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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