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Printing Collection Labels from Spreadsheets

Last Updated: 7th Jan 2010

By Volker Betz

Printing labels with spreadsheet programs

Volker Betz, Taunussstein Germany

Spreadsheet programs like Excel or Star Office Calc are the most simple tool to make a mineral collection data base. Such a data base has some advantages and some drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that printing labels needs a different order of the data. Also labels should have different sizes depending from the specimen size.

I have recently changed the software and use now a workbook in Star office as I did not like to buy a new Software for Vista environment.

The collection worksheet

The workbook contains a worksheet named „collection“ with the data base. This can have about 35.000 entries and is OK for most private collection. For each specimens there is one line with eight columns. Column 1 and 2 are used for mineral names, Column 3 for the location, column 4 for additional information not printed on labels, columns 5 for the second line of location information, column 6 for additional comments on area info, not printed, column 7 for size and collecting/ acquisition date. Line 8 is used for a string with collection name and number. Further columns are used for comments, prices other info and a possible link to a picture, but not printed on the label.

The collection database spreadsheet with a selection of entries

Label sizes

Over time I recognized, that there are demands for different label sizes. At present I use two sizes. Large labels of ~ 34x57 mm in a fixed size for all specimens fitting into 4x6 cm boxes and the larger ones. This labels are very easy readable using font size 10 to 12 points and fit into the 4x6 cm boxes. The small labels are variable in size.

The print list and large labels

Printing is done by adding two other worksheets to the collection workbook: a „print list“ and a „label large“ worksheet. I decided to use a laser printer to print labels, as the carbon black is more resistant over time and against water, than ink jet colours. But as our printers mostly use DIN A4 or letter format, it is difficult to print only one label. So I print usually several labels at once. Of the above mentioned size of 34x57 mm, 3x7 = 21 labels fit on one page of plain paper or cardboard, or on self adhesive labels (like Avery 3481).

The print list with entries copied from the collection data base

The label worksheet „label large“ is linked to the „print list“. If labels need to be printed either a single line of the data base is copied to the „print list“ and then automatically converted into a label, or up to 21 lines are copied and a full sheet of labels is converted from the print list and can be printed.

The large labels in worksheet view

Smaller Labels

For smaller labels a second worksheet was created. It carries 5x10 = 50 labels on one page. To print that, 1-50 records are copied from the „collection“ worksheet into the „print list“.

The first 21 are simultaneously converted to large and small labels, the other 29 only to small labels. For printing the small labels, there is an option in the printer set up. The sheet can can be printed at 100 % size and labels are then 26x32 mm in size and fit well into my 30x40 mm boxes. At 75 % size they are 24x19 mm and suitable for the European style Micro Mount Boxes. The resizing can be done down to 33 or 25 % and produce labels of 11 mm or 8 mm width. Reading may be difficult without a loupe in that size and the i-point fades out at the smallest size, but the labels still carry full information. Such mall labels my be glued on specimens on a hidden place and are more informative than only a number.

The small labels which can be printed from 8 to 32 mm in size (here seen in print-preview). Please note that the font can be automatically changed to fit text in the line.

Adhesive Micro Mount Labels

Printing on small adhesive labels for Micro mounts is a special issue. Many of the zeolites specimens I collect are smaller than 25 mm and kept in European style micro mount boxes, which are a square of 27 mm for the box with 20 mm hight and a 28 mm square for the cap. I selected now 25.4 x 16,9 mm labels (Herma No. 4334) and prepared a worksheet linked with the print list to print on that size. One sheet of the size is 112 labels. As it is not very practical to print so many labels at once, I divided the sheets into two halfes of DIN A 5 and print only 3 row of 7 labels = 21 labels. As the printers have some tolerances only a 22x13 mm center part is used for the text. This size of well to read at least with the stereo microscope.

Micro mount label of a fixed size 25,4 x16,9 mm

For those interested: I can mail the empty but linked and formatted workbook in either .ODS or .XLS format. Just send me a mail.

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