Basic Walk-Through of Various Label Printer Software Programs
When it comes to running an efficient business, being able to label and visually identify all elements and processes is critical to your efficiency. For many people, a large part of this comes down to using adhesive labels for a range of functions. At some point, many business owners also decide that it would be financially beneficial to own their own label maker, instead of having to pay to have things printed each time, or having to come up with their own less professional half measures: Printing on cheap sticker paper in a standard printer, cutting out labels from standard paper and then applying some sort of backing after the fact, etc. If you’re reading this blog post, you’ve probably found yourself in one of the following two situations: either you’re thinking about getting a label maker, or you already have a label printer on-site and are just trying to figure out the best way to go about designing your labels and signage. This blog post will be a basic walk-through of the various kinds of label printer software programs that you can use to design different signs and labels you might need in your workplace, and some limitations/considerations pertaining to each.
What Should I Consider When Looking for Label Printer Software?
One of the first things you’re going to need to do is determine the software compatibility of your current label maker if you already have one, or determine which brands and models are compatible with which software programs if you’re currently making a buying decision. For the most part, increased functionality comes with an increased price tag. For example, handheld or portable label printers are generally going to be self-contained and not compatible with third-party computers or their software. Likewise, some entry-level stationary printers will have more limitations on the programs that they can interact with. If you need high levels of compatibility, you probably want to be looking in the premium brands’ midrange models and up. LabelTac (which you can find here), for example, produces a wide range of label printers, many of which are compatible with third-party software. If you’re curious as to the logistics, most printers that are compatible with various design software will connect to your personal computer directly via a USB cable, allowing you to print to the label maker in the same way you would send jobs to any traditional printer. In some cases, however, the maker of the machine may include its own software or driver programs that you will use to print from. When this is the case, these programs have built in design capabilities, but they are generally fairly basic and limited in their functionality. That said, while the design capabilities are generally limited, some brands do include archives of templates, which can be used in other programs and will help you easily set up the guides and borders of your labels so that you don’t have to waste time, ink, and paper figuring out how to get your labels to fit correctly on the paper.
Let’s take a look at some label printer software programs you may already own that are often supported by label makers.
Microsoft Word: This staple of the office environment has undergone a number of evolutions throughout the years, and has grown from a simple word processor to a mid range textual design tool. While Microsoft word creations are unlikely to win you any graphic design awards, the use of shapes, colors, and a variety of fonts and third-party images make it relatively easy to lay out any label you need. One great advantage of using Word to produce your labels is that most businesses already have a license for this tool; this can save you a lot of money over things like Adobe’s creative suite software. If you use some other sort of word processor, you may not be completely out of luck, as many label makers will still function as a normal printer from alternative programs (like Open Office).
One of the only problems you may run into when using a word processing program to design labels is figuring out what your “printable space” is. In image manipulation programs, like Photoshop, you can set the height and width of your document to easily mimic those of the paper you’ll be printing to. In word, you may need to play around with the margin and/or printing settings in order to get things just right and to avoid letters or objects getting cut off.
Photoshop: If you’ve already got a copy of Photoshop or a subscription to Adobe’s creative cloud suite of software, you got a lot more open options when it comes to designing labels. Most label making units that can connect to a computer will also be compatible with these common design programs. As previously stated, Photoshop gives you precise control over the dimensions of your label from the very beginning, and the design capabilities here are going to far out match those of Microsoft Word or any software that would be included with your label maker for free. Another huge advantage of using Photoshop is that you also open yourself up to being able to use a number of other programs as well. Adobe illustrator and InDesign are the industry-standard in image creation and manipulation and give you more tools than you could ever need for creating labels for your workplace. Many documents and elements created in one of these programs can be opened by the other two, which means that the common compatibility with Photoshop allows you to take advantage of Illustrator and InDesign if you so choose. Despite all this, most label creation needs can be fulfilled through simpler programs, stock or already existing images, or included templates. For these reasons, the cost of other design programs if you don’t already own them are probably not worth it.
Industrial programs: in our age of technology, many helpful individuals have taken it upon themselves to create programs that make the lives of safety managers in the workplace oh so much easier. The Arc Advisor software is a shining example of this. Arc flashes injure and sometimes kill workers every single year, and the instructions provided by OSHA for calculating arc flash risk aren’t always easy to understand. The Arc Advisor software allows managers to easily calculate the required arc flash risk information required by OSHA guidelines without having to be a professional electrician. With third-party software integration becoming increasingly common amongst label makers, some models (like those from LabelTac) even allow you to take the information straight from professional or specialty programs like Arc Advisor and print them into an easy to read label.
Things to Keep In Mind When Looking for Label Printer Software
It can be easy to get carried away when designing your labels, but always be sure to keep in mind the practical goals in play. In the end, you need the required information to be communicated effectively and immediately. Especially if labels are going to be used to satisfy safety requirements, be sure to look into OSHA and ANSI resources first, as you may save time by being able to use an already existing label template. In some cases, in fact, this might be your only option, as certain safety signage has strict requirements for its coloring, size, and layout. Also, be sure to keep in mind that a reliable, capable label printer should be a larger priority than the design software to accompany it, especially if you plan to be printing in a high-volume for extended periods of time.
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