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OnMerge ASIN Barcode Labels for Fulfilment by Amazon FBA

Video Transcript

What this is about

  • This demonstration shows how to create labels on inexpensive 4x6 label stock for FBA, such as the excellent-quality thermal labels that UPS and FedEx give away for free. The 4x6 forms will later be cut up in stacks into 6 small labels using a paper cutter. Seller Central has a feature to generate barcode labels for sheet labels on laser printers, but using those gets pricey. Also, the bars on laser-printed barcodes can rub or flake off and become unreadable, especially if the label is stuck on a flexible item or bag (laser toner doesn't flex very well).
  • For printing on thermal label stock, Amazon specifies expensive 300 dpi label printers like the Zebra GX430t. But, with the right barcode software you can use inexpensive 203 dpi workhorse printers like a Zebra 2844 from eBay, such as the one you probably have for printing packing labels. With lower-end printers, it's important to use barcode software that does "grid-fitting" to avoid getting dinged by Amazon for labels that scan poorly. We'll talk more about this at the end of the demonstration.
  • This demo shows off some Word table formatting tricks. If nothing else, you'll likely improve your Word formatting skills.
  • Click here to get the ASIN Barcode Label template Word file.

Barcode specs

  • Amazon's specifications are not fussy: 0.25" blank margin on sides, 0.125 top/bottom margin. Barcode w/ASIN, Description, Condition.
  • Here, I'll make labels 1" high and 2.5" wide. Amazon's specifications allow labels between 1x2" and 2x3". I wouldn't go much narrower than this 1x2.5" layout, but you could go taller & and a little wider..
  • This demonstration isn't definitive, but we've patterned these labels on Amazon's own labels. A version of this template is regularly used to generate Barcodes that are sent to FBA, and Amazon has never rejected them or complained. Nonetheless, your mileage may vary, so...
  • This demonstration is provided for educational purposes only; we accept no responsibility for using any information or code herein.

Setup

  • Page Layout, Size, More Paper Sizes: Width & Height = 4x6; Margins tab:  Margins = 0 all around. Ignore Word's warnings about margins when you click OK.
  • Insert ribbon menu, Table = 2 column (wide), 6-row (deep) table.
  • Select entire table (both columns) by dragging the table. Right click on table, Table Properties:
    • Table tab: Option button; set all margins to 0; remove Autosize option; OK.
    • Rows tab: (Should say Rows 1-6) Set height = 0.99", Exactly; remove Allow Row to Break. Notice we'd prefer 1.0", but that would make the whole table exactly 6.0" high which would cause page overflow.
    • Column tab: Press Next Column until display says Column 2; Set Preferred width = 1.0. Press column again until it displays Column 1; Set Preferred width = 3.0 inches.
    • Cell tab: Options: get rid of Fit Text and Wrap Text if they're set; OK. Note we're doing options before other settings on this tab because the Options dialog resets any changed settings. Next, Set Preferred width = 3.0, Vertical alignment = Center;
    • OK to close Table Properties.
  • Select entire left column by dragging on the column, set left & right margins in the ruler at top to 0.25 & 2.75" respectively to meet Amazon's side-margin requirements
  • Now we have a small problem because there's an extra blank page after the table. That's because the paragraph mark (enter) after the table takes up vertical space. Let's get rid of it. Place your cursor at the top of the blank page. In the Home tab of the ribbon menu, click the small arrow to the extreme right of the word "Paragraph" at the bottom of the Paragraph section; on the menu set Spacing After = 0, Line Spacing = Exactly, At = 0. Press OK and the extra page is gone! What we've just done is to make the paragraph mark after the table only one point high (1/72"), which tucks nicely into the space that's left over because we made the labels only 0.99" high.
  • Select entire right column by dragging; Right click, Merge Cells to make the right column into one big cell. This is the section where we'll enter data, but don't want it on the label -- we'll be cutting it off. Select an 8-point font. Type some instructions for future users of the template:  "To change these labels' data: - Press Ctrl-a, - Press F9, - Fill in pop-up boxes, - Click here to update barcode." Press Enter twice to leave some space. Type "Current Data", Enter. Select those 2 words and format with underline.
  • Below that:
      • Press Ctrl F9 (press F9 key while holding down Ctrl key), type: FILLIN "Amazon ASIN Code?" exactly like that, with exactly one space after FILLIN and double quotes around the prompt.
      • Press the End key, then Space and Enter. The trailing space will make it easier in the next step to select only what we typed without Word automatically selecting the Enter (paragraph mark) too.
      • Carefully drag the cursor from the { to the closing } to select exactly the curly braces and their contents but nothing else (such as the space afterward). Select Insert on the ribbon menu, Links, Bookmark. Type "ASIN" into top line, press Add.
      • Move the cursor to the line below this field. Repeat steps 1-3, with "Description (limit 50 characters)?" in step 1, "Description" in step 3.
      • Again move the cursor below the last field. Repeat steps 1-3 with "Condition (New or Used)?" in step 1, "Condition" in step 3.
  • What we've just done is create 3 fields which will prompt the user to enter the 3 things that must be on an FBA label when they're refreshed. Also, we put each of those fields inside of a "bookmark" which is a way to give names to selected pieces of a document. We will pull in those pieces by name from within the labels, but we'll only have to enter the information once and let Word copy it to all 6 labels.
  • Let's see how filling in the fields will work. Like the reminders we typed in earlier say, press Ctrl-a (a while holding down the Ctrl key), then the F9 key (usually on the top keyboard row). Answer each popup with some data: an ASIN (10 characters exactly, only numbers and letters), the product description (if more than about 50 characters, Amazon likes to abbreviate e.g. Two Slices of Crusty Bread with Peanut… Jam), and either New or Used.
  • Now for the first label: place the cursor in the first row of the left-most column.
    • On the mailings tab, click OnMerge Barcodes. Note that OnMerge Barcodes isn't a standard part of Word – it's a commercial add-in product. You can get a free trial copy at http://OnMerge.com. In the OnMerge popup, on the Barcode Setup tab: set Barcode Type = Amazon ASIN, Barcode Width = 2 inches (2 inches is what's left over when we take a 2.5" label and subtract 2 x 0.25" margins), Barcode Height = 0.4 (after some experimenting), Left/Right Margin = 0, Top/Bottom Margin = 0, Font = 8pt. Arial. On the Data tab, on the first line under Type of Data Part, pick Bookmark from the dropdown list; just to the right of that, pick ASIN from the dropdown list. A barcode of your ASIN will appear. Press OK.
    • Click (single click, that is) on the barcode, then press the End key. Press Enter.
    • On the next line press Ctrl-F9, then enter REF "Description" \* CHARFORMAT inside the {}'s. Note there's a space between REF, "Description", \*, and CHARFORMAT. Press the End key, press Enter.
    • On the next line, press Ctrl-F9, then enter REF "Condition" \* CHARFORMAT inside the {}'s. Same spacing as above. DO NOT press Enter.
  • Select the barcode and two lines of text by dragging the cursor over them. In the Home tab of the ribbon menu, click the small arrow to the extreme right of the word "Font" at the bottom of the Font section; on the popup select a Sans-style font such as Arial or Calibri, regular weight; set it to 10 points; on the Advanced tab, set Scale = 80% and enable Kerning for type above 8 points. Press OK.
  • Make sure the barcode and two lines of text are still selected. In the Home tab of the ribbon menu, click the small arrow to the extreme right of the word "Paragraph" at the bottom of the Paragraph section; on the popup set Spacing After = 0, Line Spacing = Single. Press OK.
  • Select only the two lines of text. Click the small Paragraph arrow again, then set Line Spacing = Exactly, At = 10 pt.
  • The barcode has data, but let's populate the Description and Condition so we can see some results: Press Ctrl-a, F9. Just press OK for each of the popups since you've already filled them in. Your first barcode label is ready.
  • To copy the label to the other 5 rows, first prepare the other 5 cells by dragging with your cursor. Click the small Paragraph arrow again, then set Line Spacing = Exactly, At = 10pt.
  • Select all text and the barcode in the first call by dragging them with the cursor, then right-click and select Copy. Put the cursor in the row below, then click on the Paste button in the ribbon menu. Repeat for the other rows.
  • This is looking a lot like the real thing, but let's fix up the lines between the rows so they're less prominent. Right-click in a blank area of the table, then select Table Properties. In the popup, select the Table tab, press the Borders and Shading button. Under Style, pick the fine dotted pattern (the 2nd one in the list) and pick ¼ pt width. Under Preview, remove all but the horizontal borders by clicking on all the blue buttons except for the middle one of the group 3 on the left. Make sure that Apply to = Table, click OK. You'll still see dotted lines for the borders, but they won't show in the final print.
  • Done. Save your work!

Printing

  • When printing, ignore warnings about the paper size or margins, click Yes.
  • Print directly to printer – not pdf or new document – to generate correct resolution barcodes.
  • You can ask to print as many copies of the page as you like. That's the total number of small labels divided by 6 per page.
  • Stack and cut in paper cutter. A binder clip is useful for preventing stacked labels from creeping during cutting. You can trim the width to as little as 2.5".

Important notes

  • As when rolling out any new technology, it's always best to first roll out a small batch of labels to see if there's a problem at Amazon's end. Once that's OK, it's safer to roll out larger quantities.
  • Don't assume a barcode is OK just because your smartphone can scan it. High-speed industrial barcode scanners are sometimes picky about quality.
  • If you must generate a PDF or Word document for printing elsewhere, you must set resolution ACCURATELY in barcode's Resolution setting to ensure barcodes will scan. Resolution depends on the exact printer model, so you'll have to look it up. However, it's best to use the automatic resolution since you may use a different printer one day and forget all about the resolution. For OnMerge Barcodes, you must double-click on each barcode and enter the number under Resolution. For Zebra 2844, it's 203.

New data or product

  • Press Ctrl-A, F9
  • Fill in the popup, click OK. ASINs must not use lowercase letters. If you're using OnMerge, it'll automatically take care of uppercasing any lowercase letters.
  • Click anywhere to make barcodes update
  • You can refill-in the data every time you want to make different labels. Otherwise, you can Save As the template under various names after filling it in to save labor when you print more labels.

Disclaimer

This demonstration is provided as-is for educational purposes only; we don not warrant or accept responsibility for using any information or code herein.

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