While it might seem like an excellent idea at the time, there are a few bumps and hurdles that you might just stumble over if you want to design your labels yourself. Do-it-yourself labels have all kinds of benefits - you can design your own labels, change the design as and when you want, and print as many labels as you need at the time you need them - but you do have to set aside the time to get everything just right, including the design.
With this in mind, we've put together a few dos and don'ts for designing labels - based on our own run-ins with template design!
- DO THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT BORDERS...
If you want to include a border in your design you will need to spend extra time making sure that your design is perfectly aligned to your labels. Including a border around the outside of a label will make any misalignment all the more obvious and achieving a border that is perfectly level all the way around can be quite difficult to do.
If you absolutely HAVE to have a border, we've found that using a chunky border tends to give you a bit more wiggle room and using a pale colour is an easier option than using black or a deep, vibrant colour.
You should also check the printable area of your printer; the majority of printers cannot print to the very edge of an A4 sheet (the area that they can print is known as the “printable area”). If you are printing labels that DON'T have a selvedge (a blank strip around one or more edges of the sheet) or that have a very narrow selvedge, you will need to make sure that your printer is capable of edge-to-edge printing – if any area of your border falls outside the printable area you will NOT be able to include a border.
- ... AND COLOURED BACKGROUNDS
Coloured backgrounds are a great way to add a decorative touch to your labels and give you the choice of exactly which colour(s) you want on each and every label.
However, you will need to ensure that your printer is capable of laying down blocks of colour without issue (most modern printers have no problem with this, but some might struggle to get a sharp, consistent print) and that all of your labels sit within the printable area of the sheet. If part of one or more of your labels sits outside the printable area you will end up with a white strip around the outside of your coloured background.
- TAKE CARE WITH YOUR LAYOUT...
If your design includes a lot of different elements (e.g. multiple objects, including images, text boxes, shapes etc), you will need to take care with how you position these elements together within the dimensions of your label.
Most labels are relatively small in size, which means that if you include a lot of elements in your design your labels may end up looking cluttered and messy.
You may also run into issues with positioning depending on the software you are using; while sophisticated graphics packages can provide an extremely high level of fine control over positioning, other packages may have more limited control. A common issue with Word templates is that when you try to place objects next to one another, they often "jump" to a different position (depending on the settings and formats you are using). If your label includes a lot of objects sat right next to one another you may need to spend some time figuring out the best settings and formats to use to manipulate all of the objects within your design into the correct position.
- ...AND LAYER YOUR DESIGN CAREFULLY
Even trickier is layering objects over the top of one another. While graphics packages will have no problem layering objects within a template, other software is likely to struggle with layers - particularly if you are using different kinds of objects (e.g. if you are combining text and images).
While you should be able to layer objects within most software packages, there will be limits as to how many layers you can create and the ease with which you can alter the positioning of objects between and within those layers.
One possible workaround is to create your design first (using multiple elements) before saving or setting it as a single image/object. For example, you could create your design in a simple graphics program, save the design as a single image, and then copy and paste this image into your template. In Word, you can use the “group” function to instruct Word to treat multiple objects as if they were one object.
You do need to bear in mind that this does mean you won't be able to edit the individual image or an object, unless you go back and edit your single image or ungroup your objects so you can then edit one or more objects as needed.
- BE STRICT WITH THE QUANTITY OF CONTENT
You do need to be strict with the amount of content you include on your labels. It is quite tempting to keep adding content, but this often results in a messy, unprofessional label that is both difficult to read and visually unappealing.
Having fewer elements within your design helps to create a clean, professional design and has the added bonus of giving you fewer objects to position, which can save you quite a bit of time when setting up your design.
- ALWAYS DO A TEST PRINT!
One of the most important rules for designing labels! We always advise customers to do a test print first so that if there are any errors or issues with the alignment they can be corrected before you start printing onto your actual sheets of labels. Once you are relatively happy with the look of your design, print your template onto blank white paper and hold this up against a sheet of your labels to double check for any discrepancies in alignment.
For more tips and advice you can take a look through our Help Pages.