Making Name Badges in Bulk with Glabels

I recently organized a college event, and one of my responsibilities was to prepare name badges for all the staffs (200 people or so). To save time, I offered to add the names of our staff in bulk, using a blank name badge template the design team have created, a spreadsheet of the names and job descriptions of the staffs, and Glabels.
Of course, there are mail merge functions/scripts for Photoshop, Inkscape and Scribus, but I’m not used to all of them. I reviewed Glabels a few years ago and have much more familiarity with it, and thought that I could use its data merging feature for this purpose.

Make a custom template

We planned for the name badges to be 9.5 x 11.5 cm in size (as fitting a 10×12 cm plastic name tag holder, similar to this), and I’ve measured that a single sheet of A4 paper would fit four of them. Glabels has a wizard for creating a template, which can be accessed by going to New>Custom>Add. All you’ll need to do is to decide the size of the paper and the size of the badges, whether or not you want margins between each ones, and the number of badges per sheet. On this wizard, I’m going to create four rectangular badges on a sheet of A4 paper, with no margins between them and the edges of the paper, to make cutting easier.

wizard-Label-or-Card-Shape-030

wizard-Label-or-Card-size

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When you’re done, you can select the template you’ve made from the list of custom templates.

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Data Source

Make a simple spreadsheet with every information you’ll need on the badge separated within columns, like names on the first, numbers on the second, job description on the third, etc., and save it as a CSV file. For this example, I’m using Bryan Dunning’s sample data file with some columns removed, only using the columns with the names, phone numbers, and emails.

csv

Making the badges

Glabels has barebones artistic tools, so if you want a fancy badge, you’d better design a blank template on Photoshop or another app, save it into a .png file, and set it as the background of your badge. However, Glabels also doesn’t have an option to do so, but this can be solved by adding the background using Objects>Create>Image menu (which would create a checkered square where your background would be), select the background file from the file picker on the properties pane, resize the background until it’s the same size as the badge, and send it into the back of the badge (Object>Order>Send to back).

background

Using Object>Merge Properties, select ‘Text: Comma Separated Values (CSV)’ as format and add your csv file. You can untick entries you don’t want, like the first row containing the titles of the columns in this file.

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Add text fields for the name, phone number, and email, and add some formatting if you like using the ‘Style’ tab. Don’t forget to resize the text fields to fit them – I stretched them to the sides of the badge.

textinput

Now make placeholders on the text fields that match the columns on the CSV file; for example, the text field that would hold the staff names (which is on the first column) should have ‘${1}’ on it, the text field containing the second column should have ‘${2}’, and so on. You can select the column number from the ‘Insert merge field’ dropdown on the sidebar, or by typing them manually.

And we’re done. Make sure to check the badges using print preview (Print>Labels>Preview).

printlabels

At this point, you might notice that some texts (like people’s names) are too long and don’t fit the badges correctly. There are two solutions for this: make the text a little smaller, or shorten the text if you could (e.g. shorten the names into initials).

preview

Conclusion

Glabels has a simple built-in data merging feature that saved me and my team a lot of time. The nametag themselves look great, and fits with the name tag holders I’ve bought. It has some minor quirks, though – changes in the source CSV file are not always applied to the badges unless you reload it, for example. Nonetheless, it’s a neat program.

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