8 Replies Latest reply on Sep 1, 2009 11:13 AM by JanWalker

    Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7

    JanWalker

      Title

      Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10

      Post

      I am trying to make a set of labels with fixed content.  E.g. little id labels to go on the backs of cards.

       

      This is endlessly frustrating because there are aspects of the layout arithmetic that are invisible and not reflected correctly in the Object Info or in the layout window.  So the job of designing something that fits is just eventually just random because you can change specs a teeny bit and get a huge change in the print copy or vice versa.  Also, it seems that the adjustment guessing game has to be played differently for the horizontal and vertical adjustments.

       

      Here's the requirements.  I want three lines on each label; I plan to use 9 point Times New Roman and it will print easily in the amount of vertical space I have.  I will adjust the wording to make it fit horizontally. There are four columns of 20 labels on my sheets.  There is no space between the labels vertically.

       

      I use Create New Layout and choose Labels as the type of layout.  My labels paper (Avery 8167) is not in the supported collection so I choose Custom.  It takes the dimensions for the distance from the left edge of one label to the left edge of the next, similarly for the top of one to the top of the next.  For these labels, it is something like 2.06 inches wide and 0.5 inches high.  (Actually, the printable width of each label is only 1.75 inches but I figured that wouldn't matter if the left edges were correctly spaced.)

       

      I use "Fixed Printer Margins" because the printer drivers are a little different on my two (Mac) machines and it isn't clear how default printer margins would combine with the ones needed by the layout.  I am making the assumption that "fixed margins" are to be measured from the edges of the physical sheet of paper.  I'm pretty sure this is right.  The margins I spec are 0.5 inches top and bottom, 0.25 inches left and right.  These are as measured on the label sheets themselves.  

       

      The layout creator prompts for which fields are going into the labels so I move in all three of my Line fields.  Then I insert plain ol' carriage returns between to make the fields print on 3 lines.

       

      Then I make the 80 records, put the text into the lines, and print.

       

      The labels do not fit on the page.  They creep both left and down.  I have tinkered for hours and hours trying to guess just the right increments of inches to fudge by.  But I'm not successful.  I could get away with fudging if there were 3x10 labels per sheet (and I've done that in past filemaker versions).  Now, with four columns and 20 rows, the arithmetic errors accumulate such that the printing just doesn't fit.

       

      I am suspecting that the issue really has to do with the newline height and space width in the font and perhaps even different font specs being used by Filemaker and the printer driver.  In fact, unless the printer has been specified ahead of time, you can't really be sure exactly what size the text is going to be.

       

      It would help to know exactly what the components of the width and height are.  And to be able to specify them directly and/or specify the desired results directly.  Actually, it supposedly does let me give the label sizes exactly but that doesn't work.  I would like Filemaker to either make it work or tell me what I can change to make it work.

       

      Problems with the fudging:  

       - when you try to specify custom line spacing in the text format for the label, the options don't include points - just inches, cm, and pixels (which are not relevant to print sizing).  I'm using a "9 point" font but can't specify its characteristics in terms of spacing.  Is it 9/11 or 9/10?

       - in order to adjust the size of the label itself, you have to create another new labels layout.  At least, I can't find a place to adjust it after the layout has been created.

       

       The Autoresize part of the Object Info looks potentially relevant but I couldn't figure out from its documentation how it related to the other specs.

       

       I think that Filemaker should take responsibility for doing the fudging within some limits.  After all, it has access to the relevant typographic info and can even prompt me for which printer I plan to use.  This current kludgy approach with magic number specifications is just too fragile.

       

      AND if anyone actually knows how to make this work cleanly, given my constraints ('way back at the beginning), please do tell.

       

      Thank you.

      Jan Walker

       

        • 1. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
          philmodjunk
            

          Creating a labels layout that works with multiple printers/drivers can be a real challenge.

           

          I may be able to give you some help to ease the frustration level a bit.

           

          You can use the Object Info palette to adjust the height of the label. Just click the body part label and enter the desired height (can be in pixels, inches or centimeters, change units by clicking them), then click in a different dimension box in the same palette and the size will change. This can help you "tweak" the height the body to eliminate vertical "creep".

           

          For Horizontal label size, filemaker takes the printable area (as defined by your printer driver and any fixed margins) and divides it equally by the number of columns you specify in the Layout setup.

           

          You may have figured this out already, but when you are figuring out the vertical placement of your labels, the amount of space from the top of your label sheet to the top edge of your first row of labels should equal the top margin of the layout plus the height of any Header part in the layout.

           

          Another tip you may already know: To save paper and ink, check your layouts by switching to Preview mode to see how the labels will print. (Make sure you have the correct printer options selected.)

           

          You also mentioned horizontal "creep"--that's a new one on me as I've never seen that one before.

          • 2. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
            etripoli
              

            I've setup many label layouts in FM, and have been fairly successful.  Here's some things to keep in mind:

             

            1. Always measure in pixels (points).   72 pixels/points = 1 inch.

            2. If you specify any layout part (e.g. Body) to be exactly 72 pixels high, it's actually 73 pixels high when you print it.   So make your part 1 pixel less that it actually measures.

            3. If you're on a Mac, define a custom page size, the size of the sheet of labels, but with 0 margins.

            4. Take the gaps in between each label into account when setting your top/bottom/left/right layout margins

             

            Take the Worth Poly Labels .5" x 1.75", for example:

            1. Create a blank layout

            2. Delete the header and footer

            3. Turn on View -> Object Info

            4. Change the units to 'px' (click on 'in', then 'cm' on the Object Info box)

            5. Select the Body part, enter '35' for the height

            6. In Layout Setup...Printing, choose 'Print in 4 columns', 'Use fixed page margins',  35 for top, 35 for bottom, 17 for left, 17 for right

            7. Adjust/add the fields to the layout

            8. (For Mac) Select the custom paper size from the Page Setup menu item

            9. Choose Preview Mode

            • 3. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
              JanWalker
                

               By the way, I am using two different Macs OS 10.3.9 and 10.5.8, fmp7 and fmp10 (doesn't work with either), with an HP printer.

               

              PhilModJunk wrote: 
               
              You can use the Object Info palette to adjust the height of the label. Just click the body part label and enter the desired height (can be in pixels, inches or centimeters, change units by clicking them), then click in a different dimension box in the same palette and the size will change. This can help you "tweak" the height the body to eliminate vertical "creep".
               

              I have only Body as a layout part, no Header part.  I declared the fixed top and bottom margins of the paper to be 0.5 inch.  Even made a custom paper type to be sure that the driver was seeing what I said the labels were.

               

              Object Info shows Top is 0.0 inch for both Body and the label area; Bottom is 0.5 inch for both.  This should leave space for exactly 20 labels of exactly 0.5 inches in height.  When I preview, I get 19 labels vertically instead of 20.  Measuring the printout shows that one label vertically takes a hair over 0.5 inches.  By the start of the 9th label in the column, the discrepancy is about 7/64ths or about 0.11 inches and continues on down.

               

              I eventually got 20 rows when by accident I specified the body as 0.486 inches high but the label contents box as 0.5 inches high. When I had both of them 0.5 inches high, then only 19 rows would fit. Go figure.

              For Horizontal label size, filemaker takes the printable area (as defined by your printer driver and any fixed margins) and divides it equally by the number of columns you specify in the Layout setup.

              Unfortunately the same kind of dodge wouldn't work horizontally because the same concepts aren't there to work with.

               

              Making the layout ruler visible shows the label area of the body as I expected it, 8 inches wide, going from 0.31 inches to 8.2 inches on the width.  Presumably divided into four equally wide label content boxes all a hair less than 2 inches wide. One extra annoyance with this particular label is that the labels are 1.75 in wide, with gaps between the columns.

               

              You also mentioned horizontal "creep"--that's a new one on me as I've never seen that one before.

               

              Always something new under the sun.  I moved the left edge of the label contents box to 0, thinking it would print exactly at the left edge of the label.  Instead, it started well to the right of the edge at about 0.637 in instead of at the left margin of 0.31 in.  The label contents box itself is 1.75 inches wide and I put the maximum width of text that it would accept in each line.  The printed text, however, is 1.63 inches wide instead of 1.75.  The 3rd column almost fits onto its labels but the others don't.  This all smells like accumulating arithmetic error, perhaps from character widths in the font.

               

              One thing I'm wondering -- is it placing text on the page relative to other text? or by dead reckoning (absolute calculation)?  Maybe rows are handled one way and columns another?

               

              This event is going to be over before I figure out how to print the boilerplate stuff for the postcards. 

               

              Thanks for your swift response.  It made me go look much harder at my output, using a ruler in 64ths inches, to get the actual sizes of margins and labels, not what they looked like initially.  But, it's still just more precisely wrong.

               

              Jan Walker 

               
              -and the forum had the nerve to time me out for spending too much time working on my answer- grrr. 
              -and now it scolds me about invalid html in my post when I didn't know I had any- grrr. 
              • 4. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
                JanWalker
                  

                Thanks for the answer.  I'll try this when I'm not so bleary-eyed.

                 

                One thing I'm amazed by though -- pixels aren't points.  I had been starting to wonder whether a terminology glitch/mismatch might be contributing to my problem.

                 

                Points are about sizes on paper.  Pixels are about sizes on the screen.  My screen doesn't have 72 pixels per inch.  My printer doesn't use 72 dots per inch for standard text either.  Printer dots are pretty much like screen pixels.  The size that things appear in depends on how many of them there are per inch.  Points aren't either; points are about physical size on printed pages.

                 

                But you seem to be saying that wherever I see Filemaker interfaces using the word "pixel" I should assume it means printer points? 

                 

                Jan Walker

                • 5. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
                  JanWalker
                    

                  etripoli wrote: 

                  I've setup many label layouts in FM, and have been fairly successful.  Here's some things to keep in mind:

                   

                  1. Always measure in pixels (points).   72 pixels/points = 1 inch.

                  2. If you specify any layout part (e.g. Body) to be exactly 72 pixels high, it's actually 73 pixels high when you print it.   So make your part 1 pixel less that it actually measures.

                  OK, discovered that by accident.  (Aside: I wonder why FM accepts a layout content size of 36 that is taller than the Body at 35.)

                  3. If you're on a Mac, define a custom page size, the size of the sheet of labels, but with 0 margins.

                  All of the margins at 0!  That's interesting.  I did that, then set the "actual" fixed margins in the Layout setup to 35 top and bottom and 22 left and right.  Initially the page still printed with double the left margin but then I progressively narrowed the left and right margins, telling it to recalculate each time.  By the time I got to 12 "pixels", the labels were stretched apart enough to fit exactly onto the printed sheet.  Wow!  

                  4. Take the gaps in between each label into account when setting your top/bottom/left/right layout margins

                  Umm.  I wasn't quite sure what you meant by that but here's my understanding now.  There's the length of the text itself, which you put wherever you want it inside the width assigned to the label, which is the white box.  When the labels have gaps between them, you need to put the text at the left edge of the white box.  Then go grab the dotted vertical line at the right edge of the box and drag it so that its width is the distance between the start of one label and the start of the next.  (Aside: I found that I actually had to say it was a little wider than it measured.)

                  Take the Worth Poly Labels .5" x 1.75", for example:

                  Like my Avery ones. What a long dragged out affair...

                  1. Create a blank layout

                  Hmm.  Here's a difference.  I've been creating a labels layout instead of a blank one.  That makes it possible to treat the printable label area as simply a rectangle, I thought, instead of struggling with multiple lines of text.  I couldn't find a simple way to turn it into an area with merge fields after the fact.  But maybe that was what I needed to do?

                   

                  Do you have a special reason for a blank one?

                  2. Delete the header and footer

                  3. Turn on View -> Object Info

                  4. Change the units to 'px' (click on 'in', then 'cm' on the Object Info box)

                  5. Select the Body part, enter '35' for the height

                  6. In Layout Setup...Printing, choose 'Print in 4 columns', 'Use fixed page margins',  35 for top, 35 for bottom, 17 for left, 17 for right

                  Well, yes.  One's printer may vary?  The margins measured actually at about 19 but I had to pare it down to 12 for left and right before it came out right.  Does the horizontal sizing have a similar rule of thumb like the one for vertical?  i.e. always say one pixel different from what you want?

                  7. Adjust/add the fields to the layout

                  8. (For Mac) Select the custom paper size from the Page Setup menu item

                  9. Choose Preview Mode

                  Preview helps for the vertical placement but isn't quite as useful for horizontal.  I selected only ~20 records when printing.  That way I could get four tests onto one sheet of paper.  Still used a lot of sheets!

                   

                  One really good thing to do when debugging a layout is to turn on the visualizing tools in Layout mode.  Besides the Object Info, you benefit from Page Margins, Text Ruler, and maybe Graphic Ruler.  In Object Info, I turned off the autoresize boxes as well so that I could say how big things were and where they were.

                   

                  The really crucial thing for me was to think that the width of the margins stretches or compresses the gaps between the labels (when you tell it to recalculate after changing the layout margins). 

                  • 6. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
                    JanWalker
                      

                    Jan Walker wrote: 
                    All of the margins at 0!  That's interesting.  I did that, then set the "actual" fixed margins in the Layout setup to 35 top and bottom and 22 left and right.  Initially the page still printed with double the left margin but then I progressively narrowed the left and right margins, telling it to recalculate each time.  By the time I got to 12 "pixels", the labels were stretched apart enough to fit exactly onto the printed sheet.  Wow!  
                    I got faked out at first by not understanding the stretchy gap.  When the box for the label isn't specified wide enough, FM overrides the margins.  Maybe that interacts with one of the invisible alignment specs (center or whatever).

                    4. Take the gaps in between each label into account when setting your top/bottom/left/right layout margins

                    Umm.  I wasn't quite sure what you meant by that but here's my understanding now.  There's the length of the text itself, which you put wherever you want it inside the width assigned to the label, which is the white box.  When the labels have gaps between them, you need to put the text at the left edge of the white box.  Then go grab the dotted vertical line at the right edge of the box and drag it so that its width is the distance between the start of one label and the start of the next.  (Aside: I found that I actually had to say it was a little wider than it measured.)

                    Thank you so much for bringing some of the hidden label gotcha's into the open!!

                     

                     

                     

                    • 7. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
                      etripoli
                        

                      On #3, I should have added - Make sure you select the newly defined custom paper after closing the Custom Page Sizes window.  The Mac assumes that just because you went through all the trouble to create a custom paper, you don't want to use it right away.

                       

                      #4 - Even though the labels are 1.75" wide, there is a .25" horizontal gap between them, making the space each label takes up 2 inches wide.  Multply this by the number of labels across, subtract that from the width of the paper, multiply the result by 36, and you have the number of pixels wide the left and right margin should be.  Same process for the top margins, if there are any vertical gaps.

                       

                      I use a blank layout, because I found it much easier to put in the exact dimensions I need for the labels.  From there, placing fields on the layout, or 'Inserting Merge Field's is easy.

                       

                      After all the careful measurements, printing test labels are always necessary - but I usually start with plain paper, holding the printed test and a blank label sheet up to the light to see how everything fits.  Once it looks pretty close, it's time to print on the actual labels.  And, I've found that printer models can vary how they print, and especially variations in alignment when using the manual feed tray.

                      • 8. Re: Trouble with a label layout, even using fixed page margins  FMP7 & FMP10
                        JanWalker
                          

                        Enthusiastic "yes" to all the above.  Thanks again, very much appreciated words of wisdom.

                         

                        I noticed one other thing that might be useful to some other people.  FM creates a label layout with default 10 point text style.  The half inch high labels need 9 pt to get 3 lines on there.  But you can't just change the font itself, you have to also change the line spacing in the paragraph style.  The default is 16; I set it to 11 because 9/11 is perfectly legible for Times New Roman.