Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

Troubleshooting Label Templates Part 1 – Diagnosing The Problem

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

In Part 1 of Troubleshooting Label Templates, we’ll explain how to diagnose what’s going wrong with your troublesome label templates.

label templates misalignment problems

Troubleshooting Label Templates: How To Diagnose The Problem

Troubleshooting label templates is generally quite simple. First, you need to detemine what sort of misalignment you get after printing your label template. To do this, you simply need to take four simple measurements and check for any patterns in the misalignment.

The four measurements you need to take are the amount AND direction of misalignment for:

  • The FIRST and LAST sticky labels in the TOP row of your A4 sheet.
  • The FIRST and LAST sticky labels in the BOTTOM row of your A4 sheet.

In other words, when troubleshooting label templates, first you need to know how far your design is misaligned (e.g. 2mm, 5mm, 10mm etc) and in what direction (e.g. too high/low/left/right).

Next, you need to establish if there is a pattern in the misalignment. There are TWO patterns to look out for:

  • All of your designs are misaligned in the SAME direction by the SAME amount.
  • Your designs get gradually more misaligned as you move away from a specific point on the sheet. This could be a particular row or column, a particular corner, or the centre of the sheet.

Troubleshooting Label Templates: What Your Diagnosis Means

When troubleshooting label templates, the type of misalignment you get usually points to a specific cause for your printing problems.

If all of your designs are misaligned in the SAME direction by the SAME amount…

…your printer’s starting print position means it doesn’t start printing in the correct position OR your self adhesive labels aren’t quite centred on each A4 sheet. To fix this, you will need to adjust the page margins of your label template.

If your designs get gradually more misaligned as you move away from a specific point on the sheet…

…the most likely cause of the problem is your printer’s print settings. Basically, your printer is trying to print onto a page size that is larger or smaller than A4. If your printer is centralising your label template on your sheets, the misalignment will get worse as you move out from the centre of your sheet. If your printer is starting from the top left corner, the misalignment will get worse as you move across and down from this corner.

You can confirm if this is the problem by checking through your printer’s print settings (usually called Printer Properties or Printing Preferences) to double check that you are using the correct settings. You may also want to run your computer’s update tool to ensure your printer driver is up to date. You could also try using a different printer.

…the alternative explanation is that the measurements of your label template aren’t quite right. If the measurements are consistently wrong, the misalignment will get worse as you move down or across the sheet, because the incorrect measurements have an accumulative effect.

If (some of) the measurements are smaller than they should be, your designs will finish too high or too far left. If (some of) the measurements are larger than they should be, your designs will finish too low or too far right. Remember that the measurements of the blank labels themselves AND any gaps between them all have to be correct.

To fix this you need to double check that all of the measurements in your label template are correct.

If your designs are all misaligned by different amounts in different directions…

…it’s possible that you have accidentally used the wrong label template OR that you have multiple things going wrong at the same time.

First double check that you have the correct label template. Label Planet’s label templates all have file names that include the code of the label size being printed. So if you are printing LP40/45 GREM, for example, you simply need to make sure that your label template file name include the size code LP40/45.

If you have the correct label template, you will simply need to work through the fixes for each of the potential problems that could be causing the misalignment until you have applied the right combination that fixes the issue.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Troubleshooting Label Templates Part 2 – Fixing The Problem

Troubleshooting Misaligned Label Templates 101

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

This week’s Template Tuesday is all about misaligned label templates – and how to approach troubleshooting tricky templates to fix problematic print.

label templates misalignment problems

What Do We Mean By Misaligned Label Templates?

When we talk about misaligned label templates, we mean label templates that look absolutely perfect on screen but absolutely awful when they’re printed onto your self adhesive labels.

Troubleshooting a label template that isn’t right to begin with is a completely different situation compared to troubleshooting a label template that LOOKS like it should print out perfectly – but doesn’t.

If you’re sure that you’re using the right label template for your label size and layout AND that you’ve filled in your label template so that all of your designs are the right size and in the right position BUT your printed designs are all wrong, then you have a misaligned label template.

Which might seem like a cause for panic – but it really isn’t…and here’s why.

What Causes Misaligned Label Templates?

It is ridiculously easy for a label template to become misaligned. There are all sorts of little things can take a perfect label template and destroy its alignment when you press print.

This is because there are a lot of moving parts involved in getting your designs from the label template on your screen to the blank labels in your printer. Far more than you probably realise.

If any of these moving parts aren’t set up properly, aren’t communicating properly, or quite simply aren’t even up to the job then your label templates can end up being misaligned.

Misalignments take many forms; they can be tiny misprints that are more of an annoyance than a real issue or they can be massive mistakes that can end up costing you a lot of time and money.

In our experience, misaligned label templates tend to be caused by simple, small issues that are quite easy to fix.

Over the years, we’ve seen misalignments caused by incorrect print settings, out of date software, and even dirty printers. And we’ve also seen some of the different ways that these problems can be put right.

What To Do If You Have Misaligned Label Templates?

Here’s our guide to reacting to misaligned label templates…

STEP ONE:

Take a few deep breaths. If you feel it will help, try swearing a bit or wandering about the office/house muttering about stupid printers and stupid computers and whatever else you feel is stupid.

STEP TWO:

Remember that misaligned label templates can be fixed.

STEP THREE:

No seriously, they can be fixed *.

STEP FOUR:

Remember that some fixes are easy and take a moment to apply. Others are more complicated and take a bit of time. Either way, you will end up with a set of beautifully printed self adhesive labels.

STEP FIVE:

No seriously, you will.

STEP SIX:

Patience and a bit of trial and error can work miracles.

A cup of tea/coffee and a biscuit can also be a good idea.

STEP SEVEN:

If patience doesn’t work, you can always turn to the internet.

STEP EIGHT:

And by the internet, we mean the Label Planet Troubleshooting Guide.

Not to mention our Top Tips / Guides To Designing & Printing Label Templates / Label Templates Blog.

STEP NINE:

Read through the advice and have a go at fixing your misaligned label template.

STEP TEN:

If your fixes don’t work, don’t waste hours fighting with your label template – because you may not win.

Instead get in touch! Here at Label Planet, we’ve experienced all kinds of troublesome templates and problematic printers, which means that we have been right where you are – and we’ve picked up plenty of tips and tricks to help you troubleshoot your troublesome templates.

——————————————————————-

* Misaligned label templates are rarely caused by label templates that are “wrong” or “broken” – at least when it comes to Label Planet’s label templates. We created our own label templates based on the measurements of our products and every single label template has been thoroughly tested to ensure that it creates the correct alignment before being added to our website.

The most common cause of misaligned label templates is print settings and these take seconds to fix. It’s also worth double checking that you haven’t accidentally downloaded the wrong label template for the size and shape you need to print.

——————————————————————-

Next Week On Template Tuesday – Troubleshooting Label Templates Part 1 – Diagnosing The Problem

How To? – How To Get The Perfect Print Alignment For Your Label Templates

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

To get the best possible alignment of your label templates on your self adhesive labels, you need to make sure that your setup is set up as efficiently as possible.

label templates misalignment problems

Everyone will have their own setup that they want to use to print their own self adhesive labels. This includes their sticky labels, computer/tablet, operating system, software/application, and printer. All of these elements can influence how well (or not) a label template aligns with a sheet of sticky labels.

Label Planet’s Checklist For Achieving Perfect Alignment Between Label Templates & Self Adhesive Labels

Follow these steps to get the best possible print alignment:

1. Make sure your design suits your label size/shape. Centralise your design and oversize backgrounds and/or borders to overlap your sticky labels.

2. Fan your sheet labels to separate each sheet and remove static.

3. Load the narrow edge (210mm) of your sheet labels into your printer first.

4. Use the media bypass tray if your printer has one.

5. Position the tray guides neatly and firmly along the edges of your sheet labels. Your sheets must align neatly.

6. Make sure your software/printer driver are up to date (run Windows Updates or App Store Updates).

7. Check your printer’s manual for recommendations and check the media specifications to confirm your printer can print sticky labels.

8. Go into Printer Properties / Printing Preferences and confirm:

  • The PAGE SIZE is A4.
  • You have no SCALING options selected (i.e. less than 100% or “Fit To” options). Select “Actual Size” if available.
  • You have no DEFAULT SETTINGS selected (e.g. “Use Default/Driver Settings” or “Ignore Printer Settings).
  • The MEDIA TYPE is set to “Labels” or “Heavy Paper” or a suitable alternative; if you have a separate MEDIA WEIGHT option, choose one suitable for your sheet labels. We list this information on our material specification sheets.
  • You have selected the correct TRAY SOURCE (i.e. the media bypass tray).
  • The PRINT QUALITY (Printer Resolution) is set to a higher level when printing photographs or high resolution artwork.
  • Enable “Edge-To-Edge” (Borderless) Printing to print all the way to the edges of your A4 sheets – if your printer offers this function.

9. DO A TEST PRINT ONTO PAPER BEFORE PRINTING ONTO YOUR STICKY LABELS.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Troubleshooting Misaligned Label Templates 101

Definition – What Is A Printer Driver & Why Are They So Important For Printing Label Templates?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

One piece of advice that we give to customers struggling with the alignment of their label templates is to check that their printer’s driver is up to date. In this blog post, we’ll explain just what a printer driver is and why it matters to the alignment of your label templates.

label templates misalignment problems

Label Templates & Printer Drivers – What Is A Printer Driver?

Basically, a printer driver is a piece of system software that allows your computer to interact with your printer. It translates instructions sent from your operating system or application software into a form/language that your printer can “understand” – allowing it to respond properly to those instructions.

There are many different types of software and printer models, each of which may have its own way of encoding data. To allow almost any software and printer to communicate there needs to be a translator between the two – the printer driver serves this purpose.

One of the tasks performed by a printer driver is to convert your document (i.e. your label template) into a Page Description Language that your printer can “read”. These languages describe the content on a page and how that content is arranged. This is done in the form of a series of geometric lines and shapes that can be described using mathematical equations.

Another task is to communicate the print settings that your printer should use when printing your document. This could be a default set of print settings, such as those stored in the printer driver itself. Alternatively, it could be a selection of settings that you have purposely selected to print a particular document. Print settings include the page size and any scaling options applied to your document – getting these wrong will ruin the alignment of label templates in an instant. They also include the way in which your printer functions when printing onto different print medium. Printing self adhesive labels requires a more specialised mode of printing compared to standard sheets of paper.

Label Templates & Printer Drivers – Why Does The Printer Driver Matter?

Essentially, the printer driver tells your printer WHAT to print and HOW to print it.

This is why it is important to keep your printer driver up to date. An out of date printer driver may not translate instructions from your computer/software correctly. This will cause all sorts of alignment and print quality issues for any print job. This can be especially problematic with label templates where each design needs to neatly align with a blank label.

Label Templates & Printer Drivers – How do You Check If Your Printer Driver Is Up To Date?

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to check that you have the most up to date printer driver installed.

Simply run your device’s software update tool and it should check for any new versions of your printer driver.

For Windows devices you simply run Windows Updates and for Mac devices you run App Store Updates.

If your printer came with its own software, it may include a tool to check for updates. You can use this instead of your device’s software update tool. You can also go to the manufacturer’s website; most will include downloads of their latest printer drivers on their support pages.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: How To? – How To Get The Perfect Print Alignment For Your Label Templates

How To? – How To Use Print Settings To Improve Print Quality & Alignment When Printing Label Templates

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

There are lots of little ways to improve the print quality and alignment you can achieve when printing label templates, simply by being precise and selective with the print settings you pick.

label templates misalignment problems

Why Are Print Settings So Important When Printing Label Templates?

You might assume that whatever your label template looks like on your computer screen, that is what it will look like when you press print. This, however, is not always the case.

When printing label templates, a number of steps take place:

  1. Your software sends your label template to another piece of software called the printer driver.
  2. The printer driver converts your label template into a language that your printer can understand. This is a Page Description Language; it describes the content and layout of your template in the form of a series of geometric lines and shapes that are defined by mathematical equations.
  3. This description of your label template is then converted into a bitmap image; a rectangular grid made up of pixels (picture elements or dots).
  4. Your printer then recreates this bitmap image on your sticky labels. It uses the print settings that you have selected (or else the default settings stored in the printer driver).

This means that the alignment and quality of the label template on your screen can be significantly altered during the printing process. These alterations often depend on the print settings you have (or haven’t) taken the time to select.

Which Print Settings Should I Look Out For When Printing Label Templates?

There are a number of print settings to look out for when printing label templates (or even test printing label templates!).

Printing Label Templates & Page Size

You must select a page size of A4 or you will not get the correct alignment. Some printers store the page size used for the previous print job. All printers may default at times to settings stored in the print driver. The default page size may not be A4. Some drivers default to the American page size standard known as American Letter – or Letter.

Printing Label Templates & Media Type/Weight

You also need to select a print setting that is appropriate for self adhesive labels. Sticky labels and standard sheets of paper are two very different print media. For a start, self adhesive labels are much thicker. They are also made of a wide range of materials (including special coatings and finishes), which can influence the quality of your print. To ensure the highest possible print quality, you need to select a print setting designed for printing onto different materials.

This is because media type/weight settings alter how your printer works to ensure your print is always applied as efficiently as possible. Laser printers run more slowly and increase the heat applied during printing. Inkjet printers will also alter the dispersal of inks and slow down to ensure that your print is perfect.

Some printers separate media type (e.g. paper, labels, envelopes etc) and media weight (usually expressed as grammage – or gsm), while others lump them together. Ideally, you should use a specific “Labels” setting, along with a weight that matches your sticky labels.

Our Material Specification Sheets include the weight of each of our products; these can be found on each range page or by visiting our List Of Material Specification Sheets page.

Alternatively, you should opt for a “Heavy Paper” setting or the most suitable option available. Some manufacturers provide guidance in the printer’s manual on the best print settings to use for specific print media.

Printing Label Templates & (Printer) Resolution

Your printer’s resolution refers to the amount of detail that your printer can reproduce in a given area. A higher printer resolution means that your printer can include more detail, which is needed to accurately reproduce high resolution artwork.

Regardless of the level of printer resolution your printer can achieve, most printers default to a lower printer resolution. This is because basic day-to-day print jobs do not require a high printer resolution. A basic resolution of 300 x 300 dpi (dots of ink/toner per inch) is good enough for standard documents.

If you want to print images or high resolution digital artwork or photography onto your sticky labels, you will need to select a higher level of printer resolution. These may be referred to in a number format (e.g. 300 x 300 dpi/300 dpi) or with a descriptive title (e.g. “Good”). 300 dpi is usually “Normal” or “Good”, 600 dpi is “High”, while 1200 dpi (capable of reproducing high resolution digital photographs) is “Best” or “Photo”.

Printing Label Templates & Scaling

Never use scaling options when printing label templates. This includes any percentage less than 100% or “Fit To” options, such as Fit to Page and Fit to Sheet. If you have an “Actual Size” option, use it to help prevent scaling problems.

Printing Label Templates & Edge-To-Edge “Borderless” Printing

If your self adhesive labels sit very close to or at the edges of your A4 sheets, you may need to turn on your printer’s edge-to-edge printing feature – if it has this option. Most standard desktop printers cannot print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet. This creates an “unprintable” border around the edges of your self adhesive labels where your printer cannot reach. If your design falls into this area, you will need to turn on your printer’s “edge-to-edge” function, which allows it to print the full area of an A4 sheet. If your printer doesn’t offer this function, you will need to adjust your design to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the areas on your A4 sheets of sticky labels that your printer cannot print.

Printing Label Templates & Default Settings

Some printers will also have options called “Ignore Printer Settings” / “Use Default Settings” / “Use Driver Settings”. These should NOT be selected as they will instruct your printer to ignore your carefully chosen print settings in favour of the default settings stored in the printer driver.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Definition – What Is A Printer Driver & Why Are They So Important For Printing Label Templates?

How To? – Improve The Alignment Of Your Label Templates Using Your Printer

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Did you know – you can actually improve the alignment when printing label templates simply by making the most of your printer’s specifications, special features, and print settings.

label templates misalignment problems

Printing Label Templates – Printer Specifications

It matters whether or not your printer was designed for printing self adhesive labels. This doesn’t mean that you need a “label printer” – i.e. a printer designed only for printing self adhesive labels. You simply need to know that self adhesive labels are ONE of the media types your printer can process.

Printers designed with self adhesive labels in mind will have specifications that suit the slightly different printing process required to print sheets of sticky labels compared to other print media – such as paper, card, envelopes, photograph paper etc.

you can find your printer’s specification in its manual or on the website of the manufacturer/supplier.

Printers designed to handle self adhesive labels and/or thicker print media will always produce higher quality print and alignment when printing label templates. Multifunction (e.g. “all-in-one”) and dedicated application printers (e.g. “photo printers”) that can only process paper or specific print media may not be able to print label templates accurately – if at all.

Ideally, you want a dedicated printer that lists self adhesive labels as a media type that it can print.

Printing Label Templates – Printer Special Features

Printers designed to print self adhesive labels will have various features that allow it to perform this particular function.

Perhaps the most important feature is the presence of a media bypass tray. This is a secondary tray that usually sits just above or below the main paper tray. The main paper tray is designed to handle standard sheets of paper. The media bypass tray is designed specifically to process thicker media – like self adhesive labels. It also offers a straighter path through the printer – by bypassing at least one set of rollers. This reduces the chances of sheets rotating as they are pulled through the printer.

To make the most of your media bypass tray, you should load your sheet labels carefully. First, fan them out to disperse any static build up. Next, tap them gently against a solid, level surface (like a desk) to make sure the sheets make a neat stack. Load them into the media bypass tray and make sure they are perfectly straight. Finally, position the tray guides firmly and levelly against the edges of your sheets. This helps to ensure that every sheet is drawn into the printer evenly, reducing the chances of your sheets rotating as they are printed.

Please note: you should also follow these steps even if your printers doesn’t have a media bypass tray!

Printing Label Templates – Print Settings

Finally, the print settings you choose also influence how well (or not) your designs align on your sticky labels.

First, make sure you don’t have any size or scaling options applied. Go into Printer Properties or Printing Preferences to check that:

  • The Page Size is A4.
  • No scaling options are selected (including a percentage less than 100% or “Fit To…” options, such as Fit To Sheet or Fit To Page).
  • No options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Driver Settings”/“Use Default Settings” are selected.

Next, select an appropriate print setting for the media type you are printing. Some printers offer a specific “Labels” print setting. If your printer doesn’t offer this option, use the most suitable alternative – such as “Heavy Paper”.

In laser printers, these settings cause your printer to use more heat and run more slowly. This helps the toner to bond more effectively with your sticky labels and reduces the chances of sheet rotation and misalignment. Inkjet printers will also run differently to allow the inks to dry more efficiently in place.

Some printers will allow you to choose specific print settings for the print media AND the print weight/thickness, while others combine these settings together.

You may also have a print quality option, which determines the level of printer resolution. Generally, these settings have descriptive names, such as Fine, Best, Normal, Good, and Draft. Selecting a higher printer resolution will cause your printer to run more slowly, improving the accuracy of alignment you can achieve.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: How To? – How To Use Print Settings To Improve Print Quality & Alignment When Printing Label Templates

How To? – How To Correct Misaligned Label Templates

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Last week, we listed five main causes of misaligned label templates. This week, we’ll teach you how to fix (and avoid) them for problem-free printing.

label templates misalignment problems

Misaligned Label Templates – Printer’s Starting Print Position

Misalignment Problem: All your sticky labels are misaligned in the SAME direction by the SAME amount.

Fix The Problem: Adjust the page margins of your label template.

In Word, click on the “Layout” tab at the top of the page. Click on “Margins” and select “Custom Margins” from the list. If you are using a PDF template, the method depends on the software you are using. Consult the supplier’s website/forum for advice if you aren’t sure how to change page margins.

Adjust the TOP and/or LEFT margins as follows when your designs print out:

  • High: increase the top margin
  • Low: decrease the top margin
  • Too far left: increase the left margin
  • Too far right: decrease the left margin

It’s best to measure the misalignment and adjust your margins by that amount. Do a test print onto paper after changing your margins and compare the test print to your sheet labels to see if the issue is fixed. If not, alter the margins a bit more and test print your template again. Repeat until the misalignment is no more!

Avoid The Problem: Unless you know where your printer’s starting print position is, it’s difficult to determine if it is likely to cause a problem without printing your template. Avoid wasting your self adhesive labels by test printing your label template onto paper to check for this issue BEFORE using your sheet labels.

Misaligned Label Templates – Printer’s Print Settings

Misalignment Problem: The misalignment gets worse as you look down, across, or out from the centre of your sheet. Some labels may be aligned; usually the misalignment gets worse moving away from the correctly printed ones.

Fix The Problem: Check your printer’s print settings (usually called Printing Preferences, Printer Properties, or Print Settings) are set up correctly:

  • The page size must be A4 (definitely not American Letter/Letter).
  • No scaling options should be applied. This could be a percentage less than 100% or “Fit To” options – like Fit To Sheet or Fit To Page. If you are printing a PDF template and there is an “Actual Size” option, use it to prevent scaling problems.
  • No options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Default/Driver Settings” should be selected. These ignore any specific print settings you select and use the default settings stored in the printer driver instead (which may not be the ones you need).

Out of date printer drivers can also cause alignment issues. Run the software updater on your device to ensure that you have the most up to date driver installed. If your printer has its own software, you can use this to check for updates.

Avoid The Problem: Check your printer’s settings BEFORE you print.

Misaligned Label Templates – Wrong Label Templates

Misalignment Problem: None of the designs align correctly. There may be a pattern to the misalignment if you use a very slightly different template.

Fix The Problem: Double check that you are using the correct label template. If you downloaded a template from our website, check the file name displayed at the top of your screen. It should contain the same size code as your sticky labels. For example, to print LP40/45 REM, you need a label template with LP40/45 in the file name.

If you are using a compatible Avery code, visit the relevant template information page to check you are using the correct code. Click on the “Label Templates And Printing Information” link on the relevant product page OR head over to our Label Templates section.

If you sourced a label template elsewhere you will need to verify with the source that you have the correct template. Alternatively, check the measurements of the template to double check they match your self adhesive labels – including a page size of A4.

In Word, the page size can be found by clicking on the Layout tab and selecting Size. Check the measurements of the template by left clicking inside the table used to represent your blank labels. This will bring up an additional Table Tools Layout tab at the top of the page. Click on Properties to view the measurements used for each row/column/cell.

Graphics packages will also indicate the size of each element (label) within your template as well as provide Document Properties – which should include the page size.

Avoid The Problem: Take care when selecting your label templates! All of our label sizes have their own template information page, which contains compatible label templates and Avery codes (where applicable), along with detailed measurement information.

Misaligned Label Templates – Unhelpful Autocorrect

Misalignment Problem: Depends on how your template has been resized. It is often similar in appearance to scaling misalignments. If the resizing has been applied equally to each row or column it creates an accumulating effect, causing the misalignment to get gradually worse.

Fix The Problem: Double check the measurements of your label template. Check the measurements of Word label templates using the Properties tool in the Table Tools Layout tab. Graphics packages should also allow you to view the measurements of the items within your label template.

You can measure your sheet labels to find out what size your template should be using OR, if you have ordered from Label Planet, you can visit the relevant template information page to view detailed measurements of your sticky labels.

Adjust your label template to undo the effects of any autocorrected measurements that you find.

Avoid The Problem: Try to copy and paste content that is the right size to begin with so your software won’t feel the need to adjust your template for you.

Misaligned Label Template – Manufacturing Tolerances

Misalignment Problem: Depends on the measurements of your sheet labels. Given that variations will most likely be repeated, there will probably be a pattern to the misalignment. If it is just the margins that are affected, all of your designs will be printed slightly too high/low/left/right. If it is the size of the labels themselves that is slightly off, the alignment will most likely get worse as you look down or across the page.

Fix The Problem: Measure your sheet labels to determine if they differ slightly from the stated measurements.

If the margins are the issue, alter the page margins of your label template as described above. If the size of the labels themselves (OR the gaps between the labels) is the issue, adjust the measurements of your label template to make it match your sheet labels.

Avoid The Problem: This is tricky to avoid unless you take the time to measure your self adhesive labels before printing your label template. We recommend test printing label templates to check for this misalignment issue without wasting your sticky labels.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: How To? – Improve The Alignment Of Your Label Templates Using Your Printer

Label Template Alignment Issues 101

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

Pressing print and discovering that your label template is woefully misaligned is the stuff of nightmares – especially when you can’t figure out exactly why your label template is so badly misaligned. In this post, we’ll take you through the five main causes of misaligned label templates – and how to identify which one is causing your template troubles.

label templates misalignment problems

The Five Main Causes Of Misaligned Label Templates

The five main causes of alignment issues when you print a label template are :

  • The printer’s starting print position
  • The printer’s print settings
  • The wrong label template
  • Unhelpful autocorrect
  • Manufacturing tolerances

Each one of these causes produces a particular sort of misalignment, which means that you can identify which issue is causing your particular template troubles.

Misaligned Label Templates – Printer’s Starting Print Position

Standard desktop printers do NOT print the full area of an A4 sheet. This creates an unprintable area or border around the edges of sheet labels that cannot be printed. It also creates a specific point in the top left corner that becomes the starting point for where your printer can actually print.

This starting point varies slightly from printer to printer. Some printers give you the option to adjust the starting print position – but most don’t.

The starting point of your printer may cause your design to be misaligned because your printer starts adding your design at a point that is slightly lower/higher thn or to the left/right of the first sticky label on each sheet.

  • Type Of Misalignment Caused: all of your sticky labels will be misaligned in the SAME direction by the SAME amount.
  • Solution: adjust the page margins of your label template.

Misaligned Label Templates – Printer’s Print Settings

Print settings (also known as Printer Properties / Printing Preferences) can also cause misalignment issues. We call these scaling misalignments because your printer is trying to scale your template onto a page size larger or smaller than A4.

Like many people, you may be tempted to assume that your printer is using the correct print settings. And for the most part, it probably will be. The problem is that there are situations where your printer may default to a different set of print settings. The most common examples are:

a) printers reusing print settings from the previous print job.

b) printers defaulting to settings stored in the printer driver.

The first example is less common; generally speaking, most people print onto A4 all the time. The second example is much more common. Printers may default to driver print settings on a number of occasions. Common examples include anytime updates are applied to your operating system, software, or print drivers.

A lot of software used in the UK has ties to American companies. Printers may therefore default to “American” settings, which include a page size called “Letter” or “American Letter”. This is the page size used in the US; it has a slightly larger width and a smaller height than A4.

  • Type Of Misalignment Caused: the misalignment gets worse as you move down, across, or out from the centre of your sheet. Some labels may be aligned; usually the misalignment will get worse moving away from these correctly printed ones.
  • Solution: use the correct print settings before printing your label templates.

Misaligned Label Templates – Wrong Label Templates

Sometimes misalignment problems are caused simply by using the wrong label template. Self adhesive labels are often sold under rather meaningless product codes, making it tricky to pick the right label templates.

At Label Planet, our label templates include product codes in the file name. This allows customers to cross-reference the two and make sure they have the correct template. Each of our product pages features a direct link to the label templates page for that particular label size to help prevent confusion.

Of course, it is still possible to get things mixed up. Especially as some of our label sizes have very similar product codes. For example, LP24/40R refers to round labels with a 40mm diameter, while LP24/45R refers to round labels with a 45mm diameter.

Label templates may also be set up with the correct label size and layout BUT the wrong page size. This can create a mis-match between your template and your sheet labels, which can prevent your printer printing at all. Alternatively, your template will be scaled to the wrong page size, causing scaling misalignment.

  • Type Of Misalignment Caused: none of the designs will align correctly. There may be a pattern to the misalignment (creating an extreme version of scaling misalignment where none of the designs align) if you accidentally use a template for a very slightly different size. For example, if you mix up our LP24/40R and LP24/45R label sizes.
  • Solution: double check that you are using the correct template!

Misaligned Label Templates – Unhelpful Autocorrect

Some software – like Microsoft Word – is designed to be “helpful”. This includes “autocorrect” functions that try to predict what you want to do and doing it for you. Unfortunately, this can ruin the alignment of a label template.

For example, sometimes when you paste a large block of content (e.g. a lot of text or a large image) from an external source into a Word label template, Word will assume that you want your template to contain that content at its original size. It will resize your template around the content and destroy the alignment of your template.

  • Type Of Misalignment Caused: varies depending on how your template has been resized. It is often similar in appearance to scaling misalignments; if the resizing has been applied equally to each row or column it creates an accumulating effect, which causes the misalignment to get gradually worse.
  • Solution: go back through your label template and double check that the measurements of each row and column of blank labels (as well as any gaps between them) are still correct.

Misaligned Label Template – Manufacturing Tolerances

Generally speaking, self adhesive labels are cut accurately to the given measurements. However, as with all manufactured goods, sticky labels may fall into acceptable “tolerances” that influence the size and layout of sheet labels. A tolerance is an acceptable deviation from the measurements stated on the goods. This is a small range – usually a few mm – but it may influence how accurately your label template aligns with your sticky labels.

If the other four issues aren’t causing your alignment issues, it may be worth taking a closer look at your sheet labels. Take a quick measurement to ensure that the sticky labels are the correct size – as well as any gaps between the row and columns of blank labels AND the size of the margins between the blank labels and the edges of the sheet.

  • Type Of Misalignment Caused: varies depending on the measurements of your sheet labels. Given that the variation will most likely be repeated, it is likely that there will be a pattern to the misalignment. If it is just the margins that are affected, all of your designs will be printed slightly too high/low/left/right. If it is the size of the labels themselves that is slightly off, the alignment will most likely get worse as you look down or across the page.
  • Solution: get out your ruler and measure your sheet labels to determine the issue. If the margins are slightly out, increase or decrease the page margins of your label template as needed. If the label size is slightly out, adjust the measurements of your label template as needed.

Terribly Tricky Template Troubles – When Alignment Issues Combine

Of course, it is possible that a particular misalignment could be a result of a combination of these causes. The best thing to do is to use your judgement to determine which cause is the most likely. Apply the appropriate solution to fix the issue and do a test print of your label template. If the issue isn’t resolved, try the solution for another issue that causes the same type of misalignment (and test print). Repeat until the problem is fixed!

Next week on Template Tuesday: How To? – How To Correct Misaligned Label Templates

How To? – How (And Why) You Should Perform A Test Print Of Your Label Templates

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

One piece of advice that we repeat again and again (and again!) is – when printing label templates DO A TEST PRINT FIRST! In this post, we explain how to go about doing a test print. We also explain why it is so important to do a test print when printing your own self adhesive labels.

What Is A Test Print?

A test print involves printing your label template onto a sheet of paper to check that the alignment is correct. This is done before you print onto your sticky labels proper.

When performing a test print, you should follow the same set of steps that you would during a “real” print. This includes the way that you load your paper and the print settings that you choose before you press print.

Why Test Print A Label Template?

A test print gives you the chance to check that the alignment produced by your label template (and printer) is accurate BEFORE you start printing on your blank labels. This means that if there is anything wrong you can correct it without wasting any of your label sheets.

Most of the time, the alignment will be fine – which is why many people don’t bother with a test print. However, if you’re printing lots of sheet labels at once, not doing a test print can be a costly mistake.

You might think you don’t need to test print your label template because it’s set up perfectly. There are. however, other factors at play. Even the most perfect label template can turn out badly printed labels. Usually because you haven’t taken the time to load your sheet labels correctly and select the correct print settings.

How Do You Test Print A Label Template?

When performing a test print you should follow the same steps as you would when printing your actual sticky labels. You simply use a blank sheet of paper instead of your sheet labels.

Whether you are testing printing a label template or printing it for “real”, you should always follow these simple steps:

1: Load Your Labels Levelly In The Right Location

You should always load your sheet labels (or paper) into the media bypass tray of your printer – if it has one.This is a second tray (usually just above or below the main paper tray), which is designed to process thicker materials (like sticky labels) and to offer a straighter path through the printer (reducing the chances of sheets rotating as they are pulled through the printer and improving the alignment of your template).

Always make sure your sheets are neatly aligned and position them inside the tray with the guides positioned levelly against the edges of your sheets. This also helps to stop your sheets rotating as they are processed.

2: Pick The Perfect Printing Properties

The majority of the alignment issues that we help our customers to resolve are caused by incorrect printer settings. Before printing, go into Printer Properties or Printing Preferences and confirm the following:

  • The page size must be A4.
  • No scaling options should be applied. This includes a percentage of less than 100% or any options called “Fit To Sheet” or “Fit To Page”. If there is an “Actual Size” option, use it.
  • No options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Default Settings” / “Use Driver Settings” should be selected. These will ignore any options you select manually in favour of the default set stored in the printer’s driver software.

test printing label templates

This image shows Word’s Print Preview screen and Adobe Reader’s Print screen.

In Word, click on File and then Print to reach the Print Preview screen. You should go into Printer Properties to confirm that your printer is using the correct settings. You can also use this screen to confirm that your label template itself is set to an A4 page size.

In Adobe Reader, click on the Print Icon (or File > Print). You can then confirm that your document is set to print out at the correct size, check your print settings (click on Properties), and confirm that the page size of your label template is A4 (Page Setup).

3. Check The Alignment Of Your Test Print

Once you have printed your test sheet, place it behind a sheet of your blank labels and then (CAREFULLY!) hold both up to a light source. This should allow you to see the positioning of your design on the test sheet and to confirm if this aligns correctly with the blank labels.

If the alignment isn’t quite right, you can correct your label template (or printer settings) accordingly. When making changes to your template or printer settings you should ALWAYS repeat the process of doing a test print to make sure that those changes have worked.

Next week on Template Tuesday: Label Template Alignment Issues 101

How To? – How (And Why) You Should Use Text Boxes In Word Label Templates

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

This week, we’re taking a look at just how useful text boxes can be in Word label templates.

You might think that it’s far easier to simply type your text into your template. Or just use copy and paste.

However, there are some benefits to using text boxes in Word label templates that might just make you reconsider. Especially if you want your label design to contain lots of different sections or areas of text.

USING TEXT BOXES IN WORD LABEL TEMPLATES – THE BENEFITS

There are two main benefits to using text boxes instead of simply typing in your text.

  1. You can get greater control over the positioning of specific areas of text.
  2. You can take advantage of the text box formatting tools to add additional design elements.

The former applies to label designs made up of multiple elements.

For example, you may have a design containing an image and some text. Putting your text into a text box creates two single objects that you can format and position. This is easier than trying to position an image relative to text that you have typed into your template. It can also give you greater control over the positioning of both elements, provide more formatting options, and allow you to create more sophisticated designs made up of overlapping layers.

Alternatively, you might have a bunch of text that you want to break up into separate sections, which you can then individually position around your design. For example, you might want a product name at the top, product information in the bottom left corner, and company information in the bottom right corner. You could try typing in all of that information and then manually spacing it out to create your required layout. A better solution is to use three separate text boxes, which you can edit and position independently of each other.

When you create a text box, you also gain a few extra formatting options. For example, you can format the text itself, as well as the border, background, and shaping of your text box. Word has a variety of formats and effects that you can apply to your text AND your text box to make your design really stand out.

USING TEXT BOXES IN WORD LABEL TEMPLATES – INSERTING A TEXT BOX (AND TEXT)

word label templates - adding a text box

To insert a text box, click on the Insert tab at the top of the page and select Text Box. Word will give you a number of pre-formatted options along with a basic text box. If you like the look of one of the existing options, select it from the list (you can change the formatting later). Alternatively, choose the basic “Simple Text Box” so you have a blank canvas onto which you can add your own design elements. The simple text box contains placeholder text. Simply delete this out of the way and type in your required text.

USING TEXT BOXES IN WORD LABEL TEMPLATES – FORMATTING A TEXT BOX (AND/OR ITS TEXT)

Next, you’ll need to format your text box (and text) to make it look the part for your required design.

There are a number of ways you can format your text box (and text). For some of these, you’ll need to remember that the text box and the text within it are two separate elements forming a whole. Some formatting options will affect BOTH elements. Others will only apply to the text or the text box.

word label templates - formatting a text box

FORMATTING A TEXT BOX (AND/OR ITS TEXT) – The Size

Left click on your text box once to select it. You can then change the size of the text box in two ways.

  1. MANUALLY RESIZE: click on one of the sizing handles at the corners or middle of each edge. Hold down the left button and then move your cursor to increase or decrease the size of your text box before releasing the button. The corner handles allow you to change the width and height simultaneously, while the middle handles can only change one measurement at a time.
  2. USE THE SIZE TOOL: the size of your text box is displayed on the right hand side of the Drawing Tools Format tab. Change the measurements in the width and height boxes to change the size of your text box. This can be a more precise way to resize your text box, compared to doing it manually.

FORMATTING A TEXT BOX (AND/OR ITS TEXT) – The Text

Left click once on your text box to select it (and the text inside). You can make basic formatting changes using the Font Tools under the Home tab. For example, you can change the font, font size, font colour, and add emphasis (e.g. bold, italics, etc).

For more formatting options, use the Drawing Tools Format tab. In the WordArt Styles section, you will see plenty of formatting options that apply to the text itself.

This includes pre-formatted options as well as formatting tools that allow you to change the colour of your text, add a border to your text, and add shaping to your text. For example, you can add shadowing, reflections, glow and bevel effects, rotate your text, or use one of the “Transform” options to warp the shape of your text or make it follow a circular/semi-circular path.

FORMATTING A TEXT BOX (AND/OR ITS TEXT) – The Text Box

Tools in the Shape Styles section of the Drawing Tools Format tab allow you to format the text box itself. You can change the fill (background) of your text box, the outlines (border), and add shaping. For example, shadowing, reflections, glow and bevel effects, soft edges, and rotation effects.

You may need to change the background and border of your text box if you are creating a layered design. By default, text boxes have a solid white background and a black border. If your text box sits over another element – particularly one of a different colour – you need to make the background transparent and remove the border.

Select your text box and click on the Drawing Tools Format tab. To add a transparent background, click on Shape Fill and select No Fill. To remove the border, click on Shape Outline and select No Outline. Both of these are listed in the Shape Styles section of the ribbon.

Please note that adding a border to a text box will increase its overall size. You may need to bear this in mind if you are trying to create a border around the edges of your sticky labels or if your text box sits close to the edges of your blank labels – as your text box may end up being too big to sit in the correct position for your required design.

The “Edit Shape” option in the Insert Shapes section can be used to add a particular shape to your text box. This can be extremely useful if you are creating text boxes for use in sticky labels that have a particular shape – e.g. round labels / circular labels and oval labels.

By default, text boxes are given a Wrap Text format of “Square”. This should offer enough flexibility when positioning your text box within your label template. If you can’t position your text box as you’d like, try using “Tight”.

USING TEXT BOXES IN WORD LABEL TEMPLATES – LAYERING TEXT BOXES

To layer your text boxes above or below other elements in your design, use the Bring Forward and Send Backward options in the Drawing Tools Format tab. Each one provides you with three options:

  1. “Bring Forward” / “Send Backward” moves your text box forward or backward by one layer. I.e. it will move in front of or behind the adjacent layer/element.
  2. “Bring To Front” / “Send To Back” makes your text box the topmost or bottommost element regardless of how many elements you have layered above or below your selected text box.
  3. “Bring In Front Of Text” / “Send Behind Text” moves your text box so that it sits in front of or behind other elements that contain text.

Next week on Template Tuesday – How To? – How (And Why) You Should Perform A Test Print Of Your Label Templates