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Perfect Labels and Badges

If you've had problems working with labels, here is the answer you've been waiting for.

By Jonathan Stars

You may already be howling, "Perfect labels!? Are you nuts!!!?" Sounds as if you've had the maddening experience of seeing your text slide down the page and/or to the right until it doesn't line up on the labels at all. It's enough to make you pull your hair out! Well, read on. The secret is at hand!

What you get when printing labels (or badges) is determined by a combination of three factors:

1) Page Setup (Print Setup for Windows users) under the File menu
2) The way your layout is arranged in Layout mode
3) The settings in the Layout Setup dialog under the Layouts menu. (You have to be in Layout mode to see the Layouts menu).

Before you even start setting up labels, choose the printer you'll be using (File > Page Setup) and make sure it's set to Portrait - not Landscape. If you're working with a layout that existed before you did that, just make the change now.

Go ahead and create the label layout and choose all the settings in those dialogs - or go to the layout you want to "fix" (I won't show you how to make a label layout. This whole discussion pretty much assumes you've done labels before - just not successfully.)

While you're in Layout mode (looking at the layout you want to work with), choose Layouts > Layout Setup and click the General tab. Near the bottom make sure the box next to "Fixed page margins" is checked.

Now here comes the good part: * Put a 0 (zero) in each of the boxes for Top, Bottom, Left, and Right.

* When you click OK, FileMaker will complain, "Some margins are smaller than the minimum allowed by the printer..." Well, that sounds scary. But just click OK. Besides, you don't get any choice in the matter. There is no Cancel button.

* Next you may get a dialog that says, "Do you want column widths on the layout recalculated to fit evenly in the available page area?" Click the Yes button.

* Make sure the Header is the same height as the white space before the first label on your label sheet. For a little help with the Header size, choose View > Graphic Rulers. Where the rulers meet in the upper left corner, you'll either see px, in, or cm. (In FMP 12 they changed px to pt for points.) You want the rulers to read in inches (assuming you're in the United States). If it doesn't, click whatever is there until it reads "in." Now you can move the Header tab (or the dotted line) up or down until the Header is the right height.

* Instead of wasting another sheet of labels, test the alignment by printing one page on a blank sheet of paper. Stack it on top of a sheet of labels and hold it up to the light. You can see if you still need to make more adjustments.

* If the bottom few labels on the page don't print, make the Footer a little smaller and run a blank sheet of paper again. If the Footer is already only an eighth inch, try deleting it entirely.

* In some cases you may need to trick the printer by creating a custom paper size that is 11.5 or 12 inches tall. Then you need to make sure you choose that size again next time you print those labels.

Looks a lot better now doesn't it? Why don't they explain this in the PDF manual? One final note - you may need to resize the Footer again if you change printers.

There you go. That should solve your label printing problems. All right, glue your hair back in and send me a check! Now if I could only get envelopes to work the way they describe in the manual.

J **


© 2010 Jonathan Stars


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