Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Label Planet TEMPLATE TUESDAY: Designing A Label Template – Choosing Suitable Shapes & Logical Layouts


This week’s Template Tuesday gives a few tips about how to choose the right shape and layout for your label design to help make the process of designing (and printing) your own labels a lot easier, quicker, and a lot more accurate.

Obviously, labels come in all shapes and sizes; here at Label Planet, we supply rectangular labels, circular labels, oval labels, and square labels. When creating a label design, you need to make sure that your design accounts for ANY shaping on your labels as well as how accurate your software and/or printer is when it comes to aligning the shape of your label design with the shape of your labels.

If you want to create a label design that follows the shape of your labels (for example, if you have chosen circular labels and your design features a circular border), you need to consider the fact that this kind of design makes even the slightest misalignment all the more obvious. While you should be able to create a decent set of labels using standard software and hardware, most software and printers are limited in the accuracy they can produce (to around 1-2mm), which means that you won’t be able to print your label template with pinpoint accuracy and so you may need to utilise a few design tricks to help mitigate any slight difference in alignment.

Centralise Your Label Design (If Possible)
As we discussed in last week’s Template Tuesday, centralising your design is a quick and simple way to help improve the accuracy of your alignment when you print. By instructing your template to position your design in the centre of each label, you are far less likely to encounter problems with parts of your design being cut off around the edges of your labels.

It may also be useful to divide your label up into sections and to allocate specific parts of your design to a specific space within your label – this can help to prevent problems with layered designs that can end up looking cluttered and can be tricky to set up accurately in your software. For example, if you want to add a logo, a company name, and an address, you could determine that the address should occupy the bottom half of each label, with the logo in the top left corner, and the company name in the top right corner.

Take Care With Label Designs That Occupy The Edges Of Your Labels
If you are creating a label design that uses the outer edges of your labels (for example, by adding a coloured background, border, or full size image) you will need to put some thought into how you arrange your label design to avoid problems with white edging. White edging occurs when your software and/or hardware isn’t quite accurate enough to position your design perfectly on every single label, which leads to small areas around the edges of your labels being left blank (this problem is called “white” edging because most labels are made with white materials – making “blank edging” a more accurate description if your labels are another colour or transparent).

You can easily overcome this issue by oversizing your design so that it very slightly overlaps each label (e.g. by slightly increasing the size of your image/coloured background/border).

This solution, however, does depend on the layout of your labels; if your labels “butt up” against one another (for example, if there is no gap between the rows and/or columns on a sheet of labels), you may not be able to simply oversize your design – especially if the colouring isn’t consistent all the way around the label. For example, if your label design features a coloured background that starts out red at the top of the label but changes to purple at the bottom of the label and your labels don’t have gaps between the rows of labels, if you try to oversize this background you may end up with the purple at the bottom of one label running over onto the top of the label below it. In this case, you would need to amend your design to give the edges of your labels a consistent colour to avoid white edging AND overlapping colours.

You may also need to put some thought into adapting your design to suit the software and/or hardware you are using. For example, our square labels and our rounded corner rectangle labels have radius corners (the corners are curved rather than forming sharp points); while our PDF templates show the radius corners (allowing you to make sure your design conforms to this extra shaping), Word templates are basically tables made up of straight lines only. While there are some tools in Word that allow you to create shapes with radius corners, you will not have the accuracy offered by graphics software, and so you will have to consider how your design prints out at the corners of each label.

Additionally, if you are printing sheets of labels that use a layout where the labels themselves go right up to the edge of the sheet, you will need to adapt your label design to account for the printable and unprintable areas on the sheet (created by your printer). Standard desktop printers cannot print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet; the area around the edges of the sheet that a printer cannot print is described as the “unprintable” area. If you try to print a label design that uses the full area of each label, you will end up with a blank strip along the edges of the labels that sit at the edges of the sheet. This means that you will need to either reduce the size of your label design in those particular labels OR (perhaps more simply) amend your label design to make it small enough to be printed in full on every single label.

Essentially, there are FOUR tops tips that can help to make sure that your label design is suitably shaped and logically laid out.
  1. If you are creating a design that extends all the way to the edges of your labels (i.e. if it contains a full sized image, a coloured background, or a border), you will need to overlap your design slightly to avoid problems with white edging.
  2. Use a centralised design if possible; this helps to avoid parts of your design getting cut off when you print your labels.
  3. Make the most of the shape AND size of your labels; give the different elements in your design their own space so that your design doesn’t rely on multiple elements being layered one on top of another and your labels don’t end up looking cluttered and messy.
  4. If your labels go all the way to the edge of your A4 sheets, make sure your label design doesn't fall into the unprintable area created by your printer.
Next week on Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Tackling Text-Only Templates

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