In this tutorial we’ll explore some of the more advanced features of Labeljoy. These functionalities can make a world of difference when working with labels.
We’ll be covering:
- Print start position
- Layout subdivision
- Counters, References and formatting
- Multi-selection commands
Print start position
Labeljoy enables you to define a printing start position on the first page, other than the top-left position normally used when printing multiple row/column label sheets. This feature is particularly useful when you want to start your printing job on a label sheet that is partially used, enabling you to fully use all those label sheets that have not been completely used.
You can define the start position of the printing job by entering the Define start position mode using the dedicated toolbar button:
Once you have entered the Define start position mode just click on the label position where you want the printing to start.
The image above shows a 6 by 3 label sheet with the print start position set at position # 5 (2nd row, 2nd column). This was obtained by clicking on position # 5 while the cursor was in Define start position mode.
Once the start position has been defined, the cursor will revert to default mode.
To go back to a fully printed first page, click the Define start position button and click position # 1, top row, left-most column.
The print start position can also be set in the Print tab of the Option form:
Here you can also toggle the Update row and column start position after printing option. This way, each time Labeljoy successfully ends a printing job, it will automatically set the print start position for the current file to the proper label location, in case the last sheet was not completely used.
Remember: the print start position setting only affects the first page. All subsequent pages will be printed entirely, except of course the last one in case not all label positions need to be printed.
This feature enables you to overcome the inability of some printers to handle the lower section of the paper due to the physical limitation of the drive rollers, enabling you to print on the entire paper surface. In case of label printing, this limitation can result in great waste of material.
The image above shows the lower section of the page in Labeljoy. Highlighted by the red ellipse is the lower printer margin line, which shows the limit of the printable area, as reported by the printer in use. As you can see, the lower printer margin makes the last row of this layout hard to use. Even worse, if our label design is showing data taken from an external data source, chances are we will end up with missing data.
Labeljoy offers a solution to this problem by enabling you to automatically modify the paper layout so that you can print on label sheets twice: the first time printing on the upper half of the sheet and the second time printing on the same sheet rotated by 180 degrees. This way, printing will always take place in the upper half of the sheet where there are no physical margin issues.
We can instruct Labeljoy to create a new layout, based on the current one, with labels placed only in the upper section of the sheet. The new layout will have a smaller number of rows (normally half) and the lower margin will be adjusted so that the resulting label size will remain unchanged.
Open the Layout form and select the Custom tab. The right panel shows the layout preview and if you place the mouse pointer over it, the tool tip text will show Left-click to sub-divide; Right-click to undo. What this mean is: click with the left mouse button on a layout row to make it the last row and adjust the lower margin so that the label size of the remaining rows won’t be affected. Right-click the preview to go back to the original layout design.
The image above shows what happens to our layout when we click on the fourth row: We go from 6 to 3 rows while the bottom margin is increased to compensate for the 3 missing rows. The label height remains unchanged.
If you print your labels using this layout, only the upper half of the sheet will be used. You can then re-insert these sheets in the printer, rotating them by 180 degrees to print again on the other half of the sheet.
No labels will be wasted.
Counters, References and formatting
Since version 5, Labeljoy features a powerful text concatenation functionality that enables you to create dynamic texts containing not only database fields but also counters and environmental references.
Counters, as the name states, are variable elements that will vary on each label by an increasing or decreasing value and that can be in the form of a simple numeric figure or a more complex alpha-numeric or hexadecimal figure.
Let’s open Labeljoy and edit the Double click to edit text element (or any other text element) to see how counters work. Remove the default text and click on the Counter button. Select the first item from the popup menu to add a basic Decimal (0-9) counter. If it doesn’t open automatically, click on the newly added counter text to bring up its properties form:
Here’s a brief description of the meaning of each field:
- Start: enter in this text box the counter’s initial value. The value entered here is always numeric, even if you selected a counter that uses alpha-numeric characters. This value may be a negative number.
- Step: enter here the value by which each position will be incremented. For example, by entering 5, each label will show the counter incremented by 5 units. This value may be a negative number.
- Number of digits: the minimum number of digits shown in the text. For example, by entering 5 the counter will be shown as 00001, 00002, 00003 etc.
- Counter type: Combo box to change the type of counter selected from 6 available:
- Decimal: base 10 counter using digits between 0 and 9.
- Upper case alpha-numeric: base 36 counter using digits between 0 and 9 and the 26 upper case letters from A to Z.
- Lower case alpha-numeric: base 36 counter using digits between 0 and 9 and the 26 lower case letters from a to z.
- Upper case alphabetic: base 26 counter using only the 26 upper case letters from A to Z.
- Lower case alphabetic: base 26 counter using only the 26 lower case letters from a to z.
- Hexadecimal: base 16 counter using digits between 0 and 9 and upper case letters A to F.
- Format: format to be applied to the value read from the data source (optional). You can select a predefined format from the list or enter a custom format.
For now, will just enter 1 in the Start field, 1 in the Step field and leave everything else unchanged. We’ll then click Ok twice, once in this properties form and the second time in the Text editor form. As you’ll see, your text on the labels is now a number starting from 1 and increasing of 1 unit in each label.
Now let’s take it a step further and add some text to this number. For the sake of this example we’ll pretend we’re creating a box numbering label.
Double click the text element and add the text shown in the picture below.
If you click the Preview button Labeljoy shows you what your text will look like once is rendered on the labels. It will show you the text that will be appearing in position 1 of your label sheet:
This looks fine, but since we are printing more the 9 labels, we want all the counter numbers to have the same amount of digits. We exit the preview mode by clicking the preview button again and click the Counter text to bring up its properties form again. We then change the value in the Number of digits field and enter 2:
And this is the final result:
Let’s add some more to it by adding a new counter object to the same text element that displays information about items that each box contains. Suppose your boxes contain 24 items, each numbered with an alphabetic encoding ranging from AA to ZZ.
Here’s what we’ll do: double click the text to edit it, add the text Items followed by a new Upper case alphabetic counter, a space and another Upper case alphabetic counter. Click the first newly added counter to set its properties like below:
This counter starts for 0 (which in alphabetic values corresponds to letter A), increases by 24 units each label, and is displayed with 2 digits (or letters in this case).
The second counter will be exactly the same, only it will start from 23 (which is the 24th item since we’re starting from zero).
This is the resulting concatenated text:
By applying the changes, here’s what you’ll get:
Now let’s add some more information using References.
We want to add the date and time of printing, the total number of labels printed and the name of the PC from which printing was generated.
Add a new text element below the one already there and modify its text as follows:
This text contains 3 references: Total labels, Current date/time and PC name. All of these references were added by selecting them from the popup menu that appears by clicking the Reference button.
We’ll leave all the references untouched except for Current date/time. Click it and modify its form as follows:
As you can see, we have specified a specific format with which date and time will be shown. It’s the US date format (short year with 2 digits) followed by the time in hours and minutes (the letter n is the placeholder for the minute value).
Click Ok to confirm the date format. Before confirming these text changes, let’s reduce the size of the font to 11 points so that the text will fit in our label, and also let’s make the text left aligned:
And here’s the final result, keep in mind that the fields Print date/time and Printed on PC will vary depending on the current date and the Windows PC name you will be using:
Labeljoy features several multi-selection commands to help you design your labels.
- Cut, Copy and Paste on multiple items.
- Align, size, center, rotate and move multiple items.
- Change font (text elements only), fore color and back color on multiple elements.
- Change the display order of overlapping elements.
Multi selection in Labeljoy is achieved by clicking two or more elements while holding down the CTRL key, or by drawing a rectangular marquee on the label. When the left mouse button is released, all elements fully or partially covered by the rectangle will be selected:
Download this Labeljoy File
As you can see in the screenshot above, we are drawing a rectangle in position 1 starting from an empty area in the top-left corner and moving toward the bottom-right corner. The label has three elements: a text, a 2D barcode and an image. The text is the only one fully covered by the selection rectangle, yet all three elements will be selected once the left mouse button is released:
We can now experiment with the multi-selection commands available.
First of all, let’s use the copy/paste commands using the buttons on the toolbox:
If you click the Cut button (top-left button of the highlighted group in the image above), all three elements will disappear: they have been deleted and copied to the Windows Clipboard.
Now, by clicking the Paste button (bottom-left) they will all be copied back to the label. The Copy button (top-right) will copy all three selected elements to the clipboard without removing them from the label, while the Delete (bottom-right) will remove the selected elements without copying them to the clipboard.
Remember: while editing elements in Labeljoy, you can always go back to the previous editing steps by using the Undo button:
Let’s now experiment with coordinates, size and rotation.
Select the text and the barcode element, while leaving the image element unselected:
The lower section of the toolbox contains the buttons that display the context menu we need to modify coordinates, size and rotation:
The top-left button displays the Align context menu. This menu is divided into two sections: the upper section for horizontal alignment and the lower section for vertical alignment. By selecting the Align left menu item, the two selected elements will be perfectly left aligned. The left coordinate will be matched to the one of the last item selected. So, for example, if you select the text first and the barcode second, left alignment will move the text element to match the left coordinate of the barcode element, the one selected last.
The command Align horizontal will center all selected items based on the center position of the last selected item. All of the above works for the vertical commands in the same way.
The top-right button displays a context menu that enables you to make all selected elements have the same, width, height or both. Again, when using these commands on multiple elements, the reference size will always be that of the last selected elements.
The lower-left button gives access to the Center/rotate commands. The upper section enables you to center all selected elements in the label area. In this case, the term Center refers to the label area.
The lower section enables you to change the rotation angle of all selected elements. The menu list shows the most common rotation angles (45°, 90°, 180° and so on), enables you to define a custom rotation angle and to reset the angle to zero.
For some fun, you can also change the rotation angle of the selected elements by holding down the SHIFT key, click one of the selected elements and move the mouse cursor up and down.
Furthermore, if you hold down both the SHIFT and the CTRL keys, the rotation angle changes to 0°, 90°, 180° and 270° degrees, depending on the mouse movement (respectively bottom move, left move, top move, right move).
Last but not least, the Move to button displays a menu that enables you to automatically move all selected elements to one or more of the label margins. The upper section displays four commands to move each selected element to one of the label borders without changing their size, while the lower section acts on the size of each element.
Let’s see now how we can change the appearance of multiple items at once.
Once you have a multi selection, you can use three specific menu items that will enable you to change the fore color (the color of the text for text elements, the color of the barcode and the color of lines for graphic elements), the back color (the color of the background for all element types) and the font for text elements.
By clicking the Element button in the top toolbar, the menu shown in the above picture is displayed.
Let’s selected all three elements in our example file and click the Back color menu. A color definition dialog appears, enabling us to define a color:
Once we have defined a color, by clicking Ok the color will be applied as back color to all selected elements at simultaneously:
The same concept applies to the Font and Fore color commands: the changes will be applied to all selected elements.
Finally, let’s see how we can change the position of overlapping elements.
Suppose you have an image in your label and you want to add some text over it. You have added the text first, then you added a graphic element that contains the image you want to display. Like the screen shot below, you’ll end up having a partially or completely covered text, since every time we add a new element in Labeljoy, this is always placed on top of everything else:
In cases like this, we need to select one of the elements and use the Bring to front or Send to back commands found in the left toolbox:
In our example we can select the image element and click the Send to back button to move the element to the back of the text: