How to Create Free Custom Labels

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Using your computer and printer, you can create a wide variety of labels for office, mailing, tagging and personal needs. Choose your favorite page layout or word processing program to do the job, such as QuarkXpress, InDesign, Microsoft Works or Word or your platform's own version. Next, load premanufactured sheets of labels into your printer, and you're ready to go. No worries about printer compatibility. Unless you find a notice on the stock package that rules out a printer type, your laser or ink-jet printer can handle the job on paper, vinyl and other materials with ease.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer and printer
  • Label stock (such as paper or vinyl)
  • Matching template

Determine the kind and size of labels you require for your project.

Visit an office supply store and sample label stock options. Most stock is designed so that multiple stickers can be output on an 8.5-by-11 inch sheet that fits in your printer’s paper tray. Within that size, file folder labels may come 25 per sheet, while mailing labels, 3 by 4 inches or bigger, may come six per sheet. Refer to the template provided by the manufacturer.

Open a document in your favorite page layout or word processing program. Set the margins and gutters according to template guides. Many labels are designed to be stacked and “two-up,” which means you’ll use the entire sheet of paper, not just the left side.

Drag or import a text box that matches the height and width of the label you’re designing. Type in pertinent information, such as a return addresses for mailing labels or your company name and ingredient data for the pasta sauce you make and sell at a local farmer’s market.

Add art to your label by importing an image, photo or logo. In the case of the pasta sauce maker, a colorful logo featuring a basket of tomatoes adds to the appeal of the product. Alternately, a head shot of the sauce maker gives the label a personal look. Your page layout program will determine the types of files that can be imported into the layout. JPEG, TIFF, PDF, GIF, BMP, PICT and EPS formats are most often used for photos and clip art.

Hold down the Shift key and select all art and text on the label. Choose “Group” from the pull-down menu to merge the information. Replicate the first label using copy/paste, duplicate or step and repeat commands. Line the labels up on the sheet according to the template diagram.

Select the stock you’ll need for your labels. As long as the labels will not be exposed to water, you can go with a paper label. If, as in the case of the pasta label or a child’s lunch box, you need a more permanent identifier, choose vinyl label stock. There’s a stock for just about everything on the market.

Output your labels using your printer. If the label stock is self-adhesive, you can simply peel each one off and apply it, but if you need to keep the label on the backing to distribute them or keep them for future application, use a paper cutter to section off vinyl stickers with backing intact.

Print only the amount of label sheets you plan to use immediately. Over time, you may need to change the information or revise the art. For instance, if you’re the pasta sauce maker and your product is flying off the shelves, you might need to do sheets of Portabella Mushroom Sauce labels in addition to your best-selling Tomato Basil, so think big!

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you waste label sheets, test your layout by running a plain sheet of paper through the printer. Check the design. Hold it up to the light against a sheet of label stock to be sure all of your copy and art fit within the boundaries of each label. This may sound silly, but double-check the direction of the label stock loaded into your printer paper tray. Filling the tray with a ream of label stock, then running 500 sheets only to find you've printed the labels on the wrong side is not going to make your day a happy one!

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