Did you know that your printer can both help and hinder the process of printing your own self adhesive labels?
When it comes to printing your own labels, the accuracy of your template is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in determining how well they turn out. What many people don't realise is that another major factor is the printer that you use AND how efficiently you use it; some printers offer specific features that can vastly improve the print quality and accuracy of alignment that you can achieve when printing your own labels and ALL printers can turn the process of printing your own labels into a nightmare if you don’t set them up correctly.
This blog post lists a few of the ways that your printer can help (and hinder) the process of printing your own labels.
- THE MEDIA BYPASS TRAY
The media bypass tray is a secondary tray, usually found just above or below your main paper tray; the media bypass tray is designed specifically to process media made using thicker materials than standard sheets of paper (like labels!) and offers a straighter path through your printer by bypassing at least one set of rollers – this improves the accuracy of your printer’s alignment by reducing the chances of your label sheets rotating slightly as they go through each set of rollers.
- THE START PRINT POSITION & THE UNPRINTABLE AREA
Ever printer has its own level of print accuracy and starting print position (i.e. the place on the A4 sheet that your printer starts printing from); if you bear these two factors in mind, you can adjust your template to suit your printer specifically, which will allow you to design around these factors and create the best possible (and most accurate) template for your particular printer.
Similarly, most desktop printers are unable to print the full area of an A4 sheet (which produces a kind of border around the edge of your label sheets called the “unprintable area”), which means that if you are aware of where your printer can and cannot print, you can tailor your design to make sure it all falls within the “printable area” of your particular printer.
- THE PRINT SETTINGS
Most printers offer a variety of print settings and properties to choose from, which means that you may well be able to improve the print quality and accuracy of alignment that you can get simply by making sure you use the best possible combination of settings available to you.
The key settings to check are any that relate to the Media Type or Media Weight; these settings will automatically adjust the way your printer prints to suit a particular medium type and/or weight – with some printers including a specific “Labels” setting that should be ideal (as an alternative, we recommend choosing “Heavy Paper”).
There are a few other settings that may not improve the print you get BUT will absolutely destroy the alignment of your template if they are wrong. You should therefore always check the following as well:-
- Check that the Page/Media Size/Layout is set to A4.
- Check that no scaling options (such as a percentage or “Fit To Page”) are selected.
- Check that no options such as “Ignore Printer Settings” or “Use Driver Settings” are selected.
- THE PRINTING METHOD
Desktop printers tend to be either laser printers or inkjet printers; some label products are tailored to suit ONE of these printing processes only, which means that to get the best out of your labels you should make sure that you choose labels that are compatible with your type of printer.
All of our label products will have their label compatibility listed on their range page, product page, and product packaging. You should NOT ignore this compatibility listing; if you print laser labels with an inkjet printer or inkjet labels with a laser printer the best you can hope for is poor quality print that smears or flakes away – at worst you may end up damaging your printer.
- THE SPECIFICATION
Every single model of printer will have its own unique set of specifications, which reflect the type and level of printing that a specific model is capable of and designed for. For example, more basic models of printer will be limited in the types and weights of materials that they can print onto successfully. Generally speaking, the more expensive the model, the higher the specification should be; a cheaper “All-In-One” model is designed to do a number of tasks to a reasonable standard and will be limited in the types of materials that it can process, while dedicated printers will be designed to do one task (printing) to a very high standard and will be able to perform that task across a range of material types and weights.
Ideally, if you are printing labels, you should try to use a printer that has label-specific specifications, such as the presence of a media bypass tray, a specific “Labels” print setting (or settings), and the ability to process a variety of materials and thicknesses. You can find ALL of this information about any model of printer by checking the manufacturer’s manual (usually available from the manufacturer’s website).
AND ONE THING THAT YOUR PRINTER CANNOT IMPROVE:
Even if you’ve chosen the perfect printer, set it up properly, and carefully selected the perfect combination of print settings, your labels are never going to print out properly if you don’t take your time setting up your template.
This is why we always recommend doing a test print onto blank paper first; you can confirm that your printer is correctly set up AND double check that your template is correctly aligned before you start printing onto your actual label sheets.
For more tips & advice take a look through our Help Section and our Blog; you can find Word & PDF Templates (along with more detailed label size information and printing advice) for all of our label sizes in our Template Section.