Here’s a Word label template for printing an 8 page ‘zine’ from one A4 sheet

tl;dr These dimensions will create an 8 page A4 zine using Word labels via the Mailing tab which you can then lay out online and print.

A4 label zine dimensions.pngThis will produce something like the below (with narrower gaps between each ‘label’ but shown here for clarity).

Zine layout showing 8 leaves.png

1. Zine-making old school

Take an A4 sheet of paper and fold in half in both directions (‘hotdog’, lengthways [long edge to long edge] and ‘hamburger’ widthways [short edge to short edge]) and re-open, bending the folds backwards and creasing them. Then fold each short edge to the middle and eventually you have a piece of paper with 8 segments as ‘pages’.

Have a look at https://zineopolis.blogspot.com/p/h.html to see how the finished zine will be when cut and folded then write and draw whatever you want on the pages, bearing in mind the page number order and direction of text. Fold ‘hamburger’-ily again and cut the middle bit leaving a neat tear, then assemble as in the info in the link.

You can scale up by drawing or gluing things to a master and then photocopy it.

2. Zine-making new school – slightly techier version

Create a Word template using Labels so that you can create a printable zine with whatever elements you want to include. You can then photocopy multiples and distribute. I’m making a mini zine for an event at work so I wanted something with our logos on, and for it to be slightly more tidy-looking than something I’d hand draw.

  1. Open Word
  2. Mailings tab
  3. Start Mail Merge > Labels
  4. New Label…
  5. Below the picture, in ‘Label name’ give it a name
  6. At the bottom of the box, in ‘Page size’ change it to A4 Landscape (29.7 x 21cm)
  7. Enter the figures as shown below, then press OK
  8. If you want to restart at any point and adjust the layout repeat steps 1-3 then scroll upwards to find your custom label name, highlight it then click on Details… changing anything and pressing OK will wipe what you’re doing so you may want to save a copy first. Recommend writing down any number changes you make!

Label dimensions for creating an 8 page A4 zine.png

Top margin: 0.03″
Side margin: 0.03″
Vertical pitch: 4.11″
Horizontal pitch: 2.91″

Label height: 4.06″
Label width: 2.86″
Number across: 4
Number down: 2

Make sure you have the right page size & that it’s landscape!

 

 

 

Note that the vertical pitch “is defined as the measurement from the top of the first label to the top of the label below it. The horizontal pitch is defined as the measurement from the left edge of the first label to the left edge of the label next to it.” Source.

Once you’ve pressed OK you’ll see a largely blank page with <<next label>> written several times but to see where the labels begin and end more clearly click on the Table Design tab that now appears and then click any of the grid options to see the lines.

Highlighting the limits of the labels.png
At top left is the newly created sheet of labels, on the right is a version with gridlines and shading to show more clearly where the labels are, using the Table Design tool that now appears in the menu. Remove shading and borders before printing using Borders tool on the right.

I’d previously created an entire ‘zine’ in PowerPoint which is my software of choice for laying out any text and images (eg for flyers) but I couldn’t get it to print correctly.  I also tried with Scribus, which is open source desktop publishing and layout software, but while it (and PowerPoint) looked great on the screen I couldn’t get the thing to print without introducing further margins. Remembering I’d recently vanquished Mail Merge and label printing I wondered if I could use that to override the margins with a custom ‘label’ – yep, Word worked.

3. Laying out the zine in Word (using PowerPoint!)

It was quite handy that I already had a pret-a-zine, as a .pptx, as it made it much quicker to re-create the zine in Word by selecting multiple items on each ‘page’, copying, then pasting into the Word zine, then moving into the relevant segment and neatening up. In fact I might actually recommend doing this step beforehand [download Basic powerpoint zine layout] because PPoint is more obedient in terms of letting you move images wherever you want them, it’s a bit more of a fight in Word. To control the position of images in Word I used the Picture Format > Wrap Text: In Front of Text which got them to behave. There’s probably a better way but this worked fine.

I was absolutely delighted, on printing and folding the Word label version, that it worked perfectly.

Zine layout on PowerPoint.png
Zine layout in PowerPoint – worked for laying out, not for printing (for me anyway)

4. A note on the calculations for pedants and enthusiasts – worked example

An A4 sheet is 11.69 x 8.27 inches, 29.7cm x 21cm (297mm x 210mm) or 842 x 545 pts in Post Script.

The figures above worked perfectly for me and my printer. Technically I made a very slight error in my calculation as I’d intended that all margins and space ‘units’ between each ‘label’ would be 0.05, meaning that I’d have 5 units horizontally (left and right margins + 3 spaces between four labels / columns) and 3 units vertically (top and bottom margins + 1 space betwen the two rows).

To get the ballpark figures for the dimensions I divided the long edge (width) by 4 and the short edge (height) by 2 to make 8 labels – 11.69/4 = 2.92 inches and 8.27/2 = 4.135 inches.

To work out the available width minus the margins and spaces I subtracted 5 x 0.05 (0.25) from 11.69 getting 11.44 inches, and for the height: 3 x 0.05 (0.15) from 8.27 getting 8.12 inches.

I then divided the width into 4 (11.44/4 = 2.86), and height into 2 (8.12/2 = 4.06).

So 2.86 inches is the width of one label. The pitch (width plus one space) is 2.86+0.05 = 2.91 inches.

Similarly 4.06 is the height of one label and the pitch is 4.06+0.05 = 4.11.

The two margins had been 0.05 but it didn’t work until I shaved a bit off and made them 0.03! The yellow dots in the picture below denote 0.05 but in the end the outer ones (red and orange) became 0.03″ to make it fit 😉

Zine dimensions as applied to the Word label .png

How I use Mail Merge for name badge labels using Word (& Excel or Notepad)

This is not a general ‘how to use Mail Merge’ post, it’s mostly a reminder for me for when I come to repeat this task next year and wish that this year’s me had written it down. This time, I made notes!

A mail merge involves importing a table of data (a spreadsheet in Excel form (“.xls(x)”), or as a tab- or comma-separated version in notepad) into a blank Word template so that the contents of each row in the spreadsheet is presented in label form.

You will need

  • Word – open a new document, this is where you’ll make the labels
  • Data file – Excel, notepad / text document, anything that has tabulated (columnar) data. Note that with Excel files with multiple tabs you can select which tab is used as the data source. Big fan of the text-based version though.
  • Patience and determination

1a. Open Word: Mailings tab » Start Mail Merge » Labels (select option / OK)

1b. Click on the ‘Label products’ drop-down menu and select brand, then size, then OK. You can also create your own label page from scratch with the New label option.
(I used “Avery A4 and A5 sizes”, L7163 (which has 14 labels to a page, 99mm in length, 38mm in height.)

1c. Word will now automatically populate a single page with largely invisible labels (‘Select All’ / Ctrl+A to see them) all but the first containing the phrase “Next Record”.

2. Select Recipients » Use an Existing List… (navigate to your data file, usually Excel (see section on troubleshooting) or notepad / plain text). If invited to “Open Document in Workbook:” click on menu to select which workbook (tab) of the spreadsheet you want to use. You can also select a cell range within that.

3. The ‘Edit Labels’ pop-up invites you to Insert Merge Field – click on that and add the fields (column headings) you want included, eg First Name will look like «First_Name». You can decide on the order and layout a bit at this stage but you’ve more control in the next stage so add them in and press OK.

4. Using the Home tab adjust the layout and appearance of the first record (top left, the only one that doesn’t say «Next Record» with colour, font, size, positioning etc. Once happy click back into the Mailings tab, click Update Labels to copy your layout across all labels. Then click on “Finish & Merge” and choose Edit Individual Documents… A new Word document will open with the finished labels which you can check and amend individually if necessary.

5. If you need to make changes affecting all labels just close the finished labels without saving and amend the underlying label design before repeating the Finish & Merge step.

6. While you can re-use this label ‘template’ with a different file (restart process from (2)) it doesn’t always work well and to be honest I’d start fresh, but I only do this once or twice a year. You may work out a better system for your needs.

Slight cheating
At point 1c you can stop if you only wanted to make a few labels manually, as you now have the basic template and can add in text and adjust layout, overwriting each «Next Record». For speed format the first label and copy to the rest by clicking the Update Labels button in the Mailings tab.

Troubleshooting
A friend sent me an Excel spreadsheet to make some labels and it misbehaved, giving me error messages when I tried to run the mail merge (it wanted me to download lots of unnecessary fonts). I completely solved that by selecting all the cells of the table and pasting into a blank notepad – it will keep the underlying formatting that lets it know where info in one column ends and the next column begins. It’s also a smaller file. Wikipedia has a good article on tab-separated data files.

On my Mac the Excel file wanted me to give it access to my keychain and I had to rebuff it a few times, also telling it not to download missing fonts. After clicking ‘deny’ and ‘no’ a few times it worked OK but it was quicker to paste the data into notepad and use that instead.

There’s an interim pop-up window if using a tab-separated notepad file where it asks what formatting it should use, for me it was a default Mac thing that worked (basically it asks ‘how should I read this file when transferring the contents to Word?’, with Excel it already knows as both are Microsoft products).

Font sizes
I had four lines of text using the following font sizes with Calibri or Arial.
FIRST_NAME – 36
SURNAME – 22 or 26
COMPANY – 14
DAY – 12     PHOTO OK – 12 (I’ve also written 14 in brackets in my notes).

Printing
This will depend on your printer but for mine it’s safer to print each page individually by selecting ‘print current page’ (the printers at work overenthusiastically default to double-sided!) and then feeding in the label sheet through the side tray, labels facing down but maintaining normal top to bottom (ie flipped only front and back).

Colouring in blocks or individual labels
Select labels to be coloured, right-click, borders and sharing, select colour and choose ‘apply to: Cell’ from the options then OK.