Mailing Labels - File Maker

Most organizations that use a database to keep track of people or organizations need the ability to print mailing labels and envelopes for mailings, labeling project folders, or other purposes. FileMaker’s New Layout/Report wizard offers scores of predefined label layouts (mostly for Avery brand labels), but you can also create labels with custom measurements. Because our example computer shop will want to do occasional mailings to its customers, we’ll set up a mailing label.

  1. Begin by entering Layout mode and creating a new layout, initiating the new layout wizard. Name this new layout Avery 5160 and select Labels from the list of available layout types. (We’re using Avery 5160 because it’s one of the most popular sizes for address labels. There are 30 labels per sheet, measuring 1" high and 2 and 5/8" in width.) Click Next and you will see the following dialog:
  2. Mailing Labels

  3. Now select the “Use label measurement for” button and select Avery 5160 in the drop-down menu. (While you could use custom measurements when setting up your label layouts, if you do you will have to tweak your label’s measurements and margins then print the label several times to make sure that it lines up correctly on the label stock. If you choose to go this route, print your first couple of tests on regular paper, so as not to waste the more expensive label stock.) Click Next. Now you see this:
  4. New layout report

  5. This dialog asks you to specify which fields you would like to appear on each label, but with a twist: When you double-click a field or select a field and click the Add Field button, the field is added to the label contents box at the bottom with << and >> at both ends. Also notice that the “Label contents” box allows you to add punctuation, spaces, carriage returns, and other characters to the mailing label’s final output.

Merge Fields
In step 3 above, you are essentially creating a block of text with merge fields. A merge field is basically a placeholder that you can add to a layout to be populated later with data from the field referenced by the merge field when in Browse or Preview mode. You have probably used merge fields before when creating a form letter in Microsoft Word or another word processor. Merge fields are great on a layout such as a label or a form letter (or an envelope) because they shrink or grow and thus reflow/word-wrap the rest of the text in a text block smoothly, depending on the length of the data in the field. And if there is no data in a particular field, the merge field will flow itself into non-existence!

For instance, if you had an Address2 line in your database and put it on your label layout, for every company that had no Address2 data, the city/state/zip line would automatically slide right up against the Address1 line instead of leaving a blank space between Address1 and the city/state/zip. Thus, you would end up with:

Mailing Labels

on your mailing label instead of:

Mailing Labels

  1. Double-click the CompanyName field; it will appear in the “Label contents” box. Press ENTER /RETURN to put a carriage return in the box, then doubleclick Address1 and then add another carriage return. Add the City field to the third line of the label contents box, followed by a comma and a space, the State field followed by a space, and then the Zip field. The “Label contents” box should now look like the above illustration. Click Next.

The last screen you see asks whether you want to see the layout you’ve just created in Layout or Preview mode. Choose Layout mode and click Finish.

Take a look at the layout you’ve just created in Layout mode. It should look something like this:

Mailing Labels

Notice the two vertical dashed lines between labels one and two and two and three. (This Avery label size prints three labels across each row and ten down each column.) Also notice that FileMaker has put the merge fields and other characters (carriage returns, comma, and spaces) into one text block. This is one of the objects you can put on a layout that contains just text, which you can then edit by double-clicking it.

Mailing Labels

Now switch into Browse mode. Things might not look right because you only see one label on the layout. This is because you’re viewing the layout as a form, with one record per screen.

If you go under the View menu and select “View as List” it will look a little better; you’ll see one column of labels running down the left hand side of the screen. But a list view will only show you one record per row, not all three columns of labels. In order to see the layout just as it will print, you have to be in Preview mode, which you can reach by typing CONTROL- U/ COMMAND-U or by selecting Preview Mode from the View menu.

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