Eurika! I made my printer work

I am very excited, after (I’m not joking) weeks of working on the school directory I FINALLY got it right.

I could have cheeped out and just did ‘fit to page’ on the excel spreadsheet and printed it off and handed it in after a mere 20 min of work.  Personally, that would just make an eye chart that won’t be used and not worth the paper it is on. The goal is to make this a useful thing for kids and parents.

The first issue; we only had about half the parents input their info I had two choices; I could give them something mediocre and easy  OR something attractive and useful so all the parents that didn’t input would feel like they want to be included. Given the goal, I decided to go the extra (10) miles and make it a nice thing.  I scoured the internet for instructions and found some helpful things here and there and I could easily ‘rig’ it manually to make it work but again, I want this to be a sustainable process so I had to mess with the setup so that next time it would be easy.

My vision was for a booklet style; standard 8.5×11 folded in half, both sides printed, and the data in nice boxes like ‘business cards’.  I feel like this is more ‘book like’ and should stick around in more people’s lives and be useful.

I can’t say this is going to be interesting to anyone else, but, I’m writing my process here for future reference.

  1. Data gathering – I used a google from that auto populated the data into a spreadsheet
    • future note; add formats to the form because it is annoying to look at the 10 different ways people put in a phone number and I don’t want to fix data.
  2. Copy and pasted everything onto a normal excel and cleaned up the duplicates etc
    • made a different tab for print, not sure if that was worth it, I never went back to the original data.
    • Added the teachers names, email and phone numbers so they could be in it too.  I used the period trick to make them the first person in each grade
      • Arranged the sheet by grade -> by teacher -> by first name
        • this is important to set up, it is the order the merge will be in.
    • I also had to email about a dozen people who had big errors like saying their kid was in x grade with y teacher and they are not a match.  1 is wrong… I got answers pretty fast on all but one.  For that kid, I guessed, you get what you pay for.
  3. Moved to Word, used the Tools-mail merge- labels option.
    • here is where I messed around a lot, I tried a variety of pre made labels but I ended up making my own in the ‘custom’ menu.  You can save custom labels but to find them again you need to use the drop down (mine auto says Avery but custom is last in that menu)
    • fullscreen-capture-11152016-125525-pm-bmp
    • In the merge options I next did;
      • select recipients – link to my printing tab on my saved spread sheet
      • Arranged my label with a standard address block (match fields first)
        • then under ‘More items’ I added the other data fields we collected
          • important note; type in the label if needed then add the data field AND be careful about adding spaces and commas etc. Way easier to do it in the format stage then to edit every label later.
          • I ended up with; address block, grade, teacher, parents names, emails, phone number, and notes. 
        • In the preview screen I messed with font size etc.  Ended up with 8point to make things fit.
        • Completed the merge!
  4. In another new document!  I set up the booklet.  I got the directions from this useful site and it worked really well for me.  Followed step by stem EXCEPT I did not use the justify feature he did, it messed up my look so I just undid that.
  5. Then I copy/pasted each page from the merge document into my print document.  This made it way longer/spread out (too much white space) and that stuck me for a few, but, I did two things to fix it
    • First I did the select all -> auto fit -> fit to window
      • since it translates as a table, this works well to make it fit into the booklet page format
    • Second I did select all -> rClick -> table properties and on the ‘row’ menu changed it so I shrunk all the cells to the right size to fit 6 rows per page.

Finally it looked right!  it was in booklet form and I thought I was in the clear until I got to the printing situation.  I wanted it to print out so I could just fold the stack in half so page 1 and the last page should be on the same sheet of paper etc.  To complicate things, I also wanted it double sided.  This nearly got my goat but I gave it one last try and after printing it about 6 times I finally got it~

6. In the print setup from pjnicholson, he has the ‘manual duplex’ box checked and this does most of the magic for you.  When the fronts are done you are supposed to stick the stack back into the printer and it will print on the other side. True, but, you really need to be very careful and logical.

  • For me I had to manually reverse the stack. So self, for next time I do this,
    • take the pile off the printer and REMEMBER what way is up or it will print upsidown
    • put the cover/last page that came out on top onto the bottom and follow in order the other pages.
    • Then put it in writing up *in the right orientation* and tell the computer ‘ok’

I know this looks like a ton of directions but it is my streamlined process.  It has a minimum of cut and paste and a maximum of automatic process.  I think the next booklet will take about an hour now that all the leg work is done, next time should be much much easier.


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2 responses to “Eurika! I made my printer work”

  1. msmouse7 says :

    Congrats!! I used to do stuff like this at my job and there is such a sense of accomplishment when it all works out.


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