If you’ve decided to ward off the winter blues with a Christmas project and have settled on some DIY label designing and printing, you might have found that things are turning out to be a little bit more complicated than you first thought. There are plenty of things that can trip you up when it comes to designing a label template and making sure it prints out properly, which means a small project to create some Christmas address labels or gift tags can quickly turn into a frosty nightmare!
BUT DON’T PANIC! We’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to help turn your Christmas Crisis into a Winter Wonderland!
Avoiding Template Troubles
- Make Sure You Have The Right Template: you must use a template that matches the size and layout of your labels AND pick a template with a file format that your software is capable of editing. For example, we supply Word Templates and PDF Templates; the Word templates can be edited by word processing software such as Word, Pages, LibreOffice etc, while the PDF templates can be edited by graphics packages such as Photoshop or InDesign.
- Keep Things Simple: if you try to create a really complicated design you may find that you waste HOURS setting up your template, that it never quite looks exactly how you want it to because your software simply isn’t capable of doing what you want it to do, or that your labels end up looking cluttered and messy. If you are creating a design that is made up of multiple layers or elements, we advise working from the background to the foreground to help you keep your design under control.
- Don’t Expect Your Software To Do More Than It Is Capable Of Doing: while some people will have access to design packages that offer many more design tools and a much higher level of detail and accuracy, others will need to make do with software that is actually designed for other tasks (but has a few design tools that you can commandeer).
For example: many people use Word to design labels; as a word processor, Word is designed for adding, editing, and arranging text on a page, so it has limited design tools (and accuracy). It will always prioritise text over anything else and you may need to go through a variety of format settings to get your design elements to follow the layout you want BUT it is perfectly possible to create a decent design for your labels (usually by keeping things simple!) and it does offer a number of tools and templates for labels, such as built in Avery templates and a Mail Merge tool for creating address or product labels from a database.
- Use Copy & Paste (Carefully) To Save Time: the easiest way to design a full template is to create the top left label first and then copy and paste this into the rest of the labels. You do need to take care when pasting to make sure that your document doesn’t automatically adjust itself to accommodate the content you are adding (for example, by increasing the size of your labels, which will destroy the alignment of your template) and you need to avoid accidentally copying content into the gaps between your labels (where applicable).
- Take Care With Borders, Backgrounds, & “Full Size” Images: these elements can make any slight misalignment in your printed template much more obvious and can lead to areas of white edging around the outside of your labels. We advise that you avoid adding borders if you can or, if you can’t, use a thick or oversized border where possible. If you want to print a full colour background or a full size image (where a single image takes up the full area of each label) but get white edges when you print, you may want to try oversizing your background/image (if possible) to avoid this issue.
Perfecting Your Print
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS Test Print Your Template Onto Paper BEFORE You Print Onto Your Labels: this will allow you to confirm if your template and printer are set up correctly AND to make adjustments if they are not – without wasting your labels.
- Check Through Your Printer’s Properties BEFORE You Print ANYTHING: set your printer to an A4 page size, select a specific “Labels” or “Heavy Paper” print setting, make sure no scaling options (e.g. Fit To Page) are applied, and that no options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Driver Settings” are selected.
If possible, you should also consult your printer’s manual to double check if there are any restrictions as to the types of materials it can print and to see if the manufacturer has included any recommended guidelines to follow when printing labels.
- Print PDF Templates Directly From The PDF Itself: we have had a number of customers reporting that they have seen alignment problems when printing their PDF template through their design software, which has promptly disappeared when they have tried printing the PDF as a standalone file (e.g. through a document viewer such as Adobe Reader).
- Always Use Your Printer’s Media Bypass Tray & Load Your Labels Correctly: if your printer has a media bypass tray you SHOULD USE IT to print labels – it is designed specifically for thicker media (such as labels) and offers a straighter path through the printer, which improves the accuracy of alignment that you can achieve. You must also make sure that you load your labels into your printer narrow edge leading (portrait); all of our sheet labels are made with layouts that are designed for this feed direction, with our paper labels also having a grain (like wood) that runs in this direction – if you try to feed your labels wide edge leading (and therefore against the grain) you may find that your labels start to separate from their backing sheet, causing your sheets to jam inside your printer.
If you have never designed a template or printed your own labels before, remember you can always visit our Help Section to find tips and advice on how to get started. We’ve written a simple Guide to Designing & Printing Labels that provides basic advice on how to design and print a label template, which is a great place to start if you’d like a general introduction. Alternatively, if you’re having a particular problem, you can take a look at our Troubleshooting Guide to find fixes for the most common issues that arise when designing and printing labels, or you can get in touch with our Customer Service Team who will be happy to help resolve any specific issues that you’re having.
Printing labels involves a lot of moving parts and it is incredibly easy to get frustrated and give up. DON’T! Most template troubles and printing problems are caused by something in your hardware or software being set to the wrong setting or using the wrong format – and all it takes is a few small adjustments to get things sorted; a few changes to default settings, formats and sizes, or page margins can make a BIG difference. Take your time and check things through and if you can’t find a solution – just ask!
Templates for all of our label sizes can be found in our TEMPLATE SECTION, while all of our help and advice articles are gathered in our HELP SECTION; to get in touch with us if you need advice for a specific problem or enquiry, simply visit our Contact Us page.