January 4, 2008

Print multiple labels per page and use an external data source

Today was somehow a special day. The reason why was it special was an inventory check at CNL. This is always a special event because we usually find on the inventory list some things which we have never seen or even heard about :-)

Anyway, on this year we wanted to put some new labels on your equipment so in the future they could be identified more easily. We bought some A4 pages, each page with 40 stickers. The idea was to print to these stickers with some labels (ID numbers) which will then identify our equipment.

The first problem was finding a software which could be easily used to create these stickers. At the end, the Microsoft Publisher 2007 was used. It's a pretty good piece of software, which can be used to create good looking presentation materials, papers, business cards, labels, etc.

So I started Publisher, created a new project based on some label template. First I changed the size of a label. We had 40 stickers on A4 paper, 10 rows and 4 columns. So one sticker has 5,25cm per 2,97cm size. The I adder our logo figure, some informational text and as last but not least the ID number. Our department uses 8 digits (ID) to identify any equipment and it looked to be a good idea to follow this rule and create these stickers with 8 digits identification code. The year of the equipment acquisition is also important for us, so it has to be visible on a sticker too. So far so simple.

What we needed be then was a dynamic data source with IDs, years of acquisition and other information. This data source was an Excel sheet.

I found on the Microsoft Office web site a great step-by-step guide which describers how to create different labels on the same sheet. Exactly what we needed :-) It's enough just to follow up that guide (the automated method section) and you will be able to create nice labels and stickers with text based on a data source found in XLS file, SQL database, TXT file, or any other Office compatible data source.