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             24 November, 2020
 

    
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Choosing The Right Label Printing Software

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         Views: 1561
2006-08-08 21:29:25     
Article by Humphrey Appleby

If you have to print barcodes you'll often resort to using barcode fonts, special fonts that that create a barcode rather than ordinary text. However, sometimes barcode fontsare just niot the right tool for the job. Consider this very basic task: You need 1000 labels with a barcode and your company logo on it. The barcode is supposed to count from 1 to 1000, left padded with "0" to six digits.

How would you solve such a problem using a barcode font? Numbering is easy: You could use Excel's auto numbering feature and format the cells with the barcode font. But how do you print on labels from within Excel? Perhaps you could print from Word, Word knows how to print labels. But how do you realize the counter in Word? Perhaps you could import the numbers from Excel? Etc.

Dedicated label printing software will easily solve this and other problems. Decent label printing software is priced from about USD 100 and will be a good alternative to barcode fonts as soon as the requirements go up.

Besides from counting upwards or downwards even basic label printing software should also:

1. Feature other variables, like date and time.

2. Support all standard barcodes like EAN, UPC, Code 128. Two dimensional area codes like PDF 417, Datamatrix should be available as an option.

3. Import data from databases like Access, Oracle or SQL Server. Usually it's also possible to print this data as barcodes.

4. Import graphics in various formats.

5. Use true-type fonts for text elements.

6. Have a database of label formats from all important vendors. Should also allow the definition of user formats.

7. Let you literally design your labels. Modern label printing software has more in common with DTP programs than with word processors.

8. Print on any Windows printer. Some label printing software will come with dedicated printer drivers for thermal printers which may result in faster output.

9. Have variables that prompt the user for input right before printing.

10. Support unicode for multi script / multi language labels.

Avoid pitfalls

Before buying you'll want to get a fully functional trial to see if the software really meets your needs. Some feature lists look impressive on paper but what if the whole thing is awkward to handle or takes one minute to load? Also do you really need those obscure features that push the price tag beyond USD 500?

Before purchasing make sure that the file format the software uses is either documented or based on open standards like XML. Quite unlike text documents for word processors which can be exchanged between applications from different vendors you can't import label designs from software "A" into software "B" - at least I don't know of a case where this is possible. What if the manufacturer drops the software and you are stuck with hundreds of label designs?

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