Add postal bar codes to labels or envelopes in Publisher

If you have a postal bar code font installed on your computer, you can use mail merge to add bar codes to labels and envelopes.

Address label with barcode

 Note   You can purchase bar code fonts from a variety of companies. To locate a company that offers bar code fonts, type "barcode font" or "bar code font" in an Internet search engine. The documentation that comes with the font you purchase should spell out exactly what characters and numbers you need to type to create a valid bar code.

Before you create your bar codes, keep the following in mind:

  1. Work with your local post office in advance to be sure that:
    • Your bar codes will meet United States Postal Service (USPS) standards.
    • The location and appearance of the printed bar codes on your labels or envelopes will conform to USPS rules.
    • You understand the proper handling and mailing procedures so you can qualify for discounted automation rates.
  2. Each bar code must be based on a Zip+4 Code that has been properly matched and coded with CASS-certified address matching methods. CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. You can verify your Zip+4 Codes by using an online matching service or by purchasing list matching software. When you verify your zip codes by using a service or appropriate software, you receive a CASS report to keep on file in case the USPS asks for it.
  3. Bar codes must be POSTNET delivery point bar codes. That means they must consist of 62 bars broken down as follows:
    • 45 bars (9 sets of 5 bars) for the Zip+4 Code.
    • 10 bars (2 sets of 5 bars) for the delivery point code. The delivery point code is typically the last two digits of the street address or box number. For high rise buildings, the delivery point code is calculated according to a more complex set of rules.
    • 5 bars (1 set of 5 bars) for the correction character. The correction character is calculated by adding all the numbers in the Zip+4 Code and then subtracting that number from the next whole integer of 10. For example, if the Zip+4 Code numbers total 23, the next whole integer of 10 would be 30, and the correction character would be 7.
    • 2 bars (2 sets of 1 bar) for the long bars that frame the beginning and end of the bar code.
  4. It's a good idea to carefully read the documentation that comes with the bar code font you purchase. The documentation will spell out the font size to use if you want to meet USPS requirements, provide information about how to create the long bars that frame the beginning and end of the bar code, and more.
  5. To accommodate bar codes, labels typically need to be at least 3.5 inches wide. Keep that in mind when you purchase your label sheets.

How to add bar codes

You add bar codes to labels or envelopes the same way you add names and addresses—you use mail merge. The process of adding bar codes can be broken down into five steps:

  1. Prepare a data file
  2. Open the label or envelope publication
  3. Connect the publication to the data file
  4. Add placeholders to the starting publication and format them
  5. Preview and print the labels or envelopes

Prepare a data file

The data file is the Microsoft Office Excel worksheet, Microsoft Office Access database table, Microsoft Office Outlook Contacts list, or other structured file where you have stored the names and addresses that you want to merge onto labels or envelopes. You must create a bar code column in that data file. Each row in the bar code column must contain a combination of characters and numbers that will print in a postal bar code font as the two long bars that frame the bar code, the Zip+4 Code, the delivery point code, and the correction character.

Excel worksheet containing Barcode column

Callout 1 
Each column in a data file represents a category of information. You can add the specific information stored in each row of a column to your printed labels and envelopes by inserting a column placeholder (also called a merge field) into the starting label or envelope publication.
Callout 2 
The characters and numbers in this cell define the postal bar code for the address in the same row. In this example, parentheses represent the long bars that frame the bar code. Check the documentation that comes with your postal bar code font to find out what characters you should use.
Callout 3 
The information in each row corresponds to the information that will appear on one label or envelope.

 Notes 

  • Even if you have a bar code column in your data file, you'll still need a separate Zip Code column if you want Zip Codes to show up in the address on the printed labels or envelopes.
  • In an Excel data file, format the cells in columns that contain numbers as text. Otherwise the numbers won't merge properly. To format cells as text in Excel, select the column that contains the cells you want to format. On the Format menu, click Cells. On the Numbers tab, under Category, click Text, and then click OK.
  • If you're using an Outlook Contacts file as the source for names, addresses, and bar codes, in Outlook you'll need to type bar code characters into a field in each Contacts file record.

Do not create a custom user-defined bar code field.

Instead, put the bar code characters into one of the Miscellaneous fields called User Field 1, User Field 2, User Field 3, or User Field 4.

It's easiest to type bar codes into user fields in Phone List view. To see your Contacts in this view, in Outlook Contacts, on the View menu, point to Arrange By, point to Current View, and then click Phone List.

If you don't see User Field 1 or the other the user fields in Phone List view, go here to find out how to add fields to Contacts file records.

Open a publication

With your data file set up, you're ready to open the starting envelope or label publication. If you already have a publication that you've used for mailings in the past, you can just open that publication. If you're starting from scratch, you'll want to open a publication that matches the size of the envelopes or labels you intend to print names, addresses, and bar codes on. Note the product number, such as 5160 or L7163, associated with the package of labels you purchased. You'll need this number to open the right publication.

ShowTo open an existing publication

  1. Start Publisher. On the File menu, click Open.
  2. In the Open Publication dialog box, locate the publication you want to open, and then click Open.

ShowTo start from scratch with envelopes

  1. Start Publisher.
    • If you want to start with a plain blank envelope, in the New Publication task pane, click Blank Print Publication.
    • If you want to start with a pre-designed envelope, in the New Publication task pane, click Publications for Print, and then click Envelopes. A catalog of envelope publications appears on the right. Scroll through the publications and click on the design you want.

You might see the Personal Information dialog box. If you've set up your personal or business return address information, choose the address you want, and then click OK to add a return address to the envelope. If you haven't set up any information, click Cancel to close the dialog box.

  1. On the File menu, click Page Setup.
  2. In the Page Setup dialog box, under Publication type, click Envelope, if it's not already selected.
  3. Under Page size, choose the size of the envelopes that you intend to print your names, addresses, and bar codes on. Click OK.

The envelope publication you opened may change size.

ShowTo start from scratch with labels

Opening a label publication is a two phase process. First, you choose a label design. Then, if necessary, you adjust the dimensions and layout.

To choose a label design

  1. Start Publisher. In the New Publication task pane, click Publications for Print, and then click Labels.

A catalog of label publications appears on the right.

  1. Scroll through the label publications and click on a design that most closely matches the shape and purpose of the labels in your package. If you find a label design with a product number that exactly matches the number on your package, be sure to click that design.

Tip    If you don't see a publication number that exactly matches the number on your package, look at the package and the information that came with the labels carefully again. There might be other product numbers listed that are available in Publisher that are equivalent in size and layout to the labels in the package you bought. For example, to print to Avery 8763, you can select either Avery 5163 or 8163 in Publisher.

  1. If you see the Personal Information dialog box, click Cancel to close it.

To adjust the dimensions and layout (if necessary)

  1. If you didn't find a design with a product number that exactly matches a number from your labels package, on the File menu, click Page Setup. Take a moment to measure the dimensions of the labels on one of the sheets you bought. Note the number of labels on each sheet and how the labels are arranged in columns.
  2. On the Layout tab, under Publication type, click Label.
  3. Scroll through the list under Page size. More label product numbers are listed here than in the design catalog you looked at earlier. If you find a product number in the list that exactly matches the product number on your label package, click it. Go to step 5 below.

Tip    In the list, products are listed in ascending numerical order, and then in alphanumeric order. Avery product numbers that begin with the letter "J" are designed for ink jet printers. Product numbers that begin with the letter "L" are designed for laser printers.

  1. If you don't find a product in the list that matches the number on your label package, click each label with a description (for example, address or shipping) that matches the type of label you are creating . Notice that when you click a label in the list, you see the label's dimensions under Printing options and a picture of the label sheet under Preview. If you're lucky enough to find a label in the list that matches the dimensions and layout of the labels on the sheets you bought, go on to step 5.

If you can't find a label in the list that matches the dimensions and layout of the labels on the sheets you bought, you're going to have to do some adjusting. Click the label in the list that comes on a sheet with the same number of columns and rows as the sheets you bought, and then click Adjust Label Printing. In the Label Printing Options dialog box, type a name for the label (for example, Supplier X Address Labels). Using the guidelines on the right, change the margin and gap sizes to match those sizes on your label sheets. Click OK.

  1. Click OK to close the Page Setup dialog box. The label publication size may change. If it does, you'll have to rearrange or resize objects to make them fit the new size.

Tip    Remember, if you have to resize a picture, press SHIFT and drag a corner handle to resize it and still maintain its correct proportions.

Connect the publication to the data file

With your starting label or envelope publication open, you're ready to connect it to the file that contains the names, addresses, and bar codes that you want to add. After you establish the connection, you'll be ready to add placeholders (merge fields) to the starting publication to indicate where the address and bar code will appear on the printed labels or envelopes.

 Note   Before you connect to your data file, make sure you've added a bar code column to the file and typed characters in the column cells that will generate Zip+4 bar codes.

ShowTo connect to a data file

  1. On the Tools menu, point to Mail and Catalog Merge, and then click Mail and Catalog Merge Wizard.
  2. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, make sure Mail Merge is selected. Click Next: Select data source.
  3. Under Select data source, you have three options:
    • Use an existing list     Click this option if you already have a data file, such as an Excel spreadsheet, Access database table, or Word table, that contains your recipients' names and addresses.
    • Select from Outlook Contacts     Click this option if you want to use the names and addresses from your Outlook Contacts list as the recipient list for your publication.
    • Type a new list     Click this option if you don't have a data file yet that contains recipients' names and addresses.

Click the blue text below that matches the option you want to pursue.

ShowUse an existing list

  1. Under Use an existing list in the task pane, click Browse to locate your data file.
  2. In the Select Data Source dialog box, locate the file, and then click Open.
  3. If you see the Select Table dialog box, click the table or worksheet that contains your recipient names and addresses. If the first row in the data file contains actual information instead of column headings, deselect First row of data contains column headers, and then click OK.
  4. The Mail Merge Recipients dialog box opens.

ShowSelect from Outlook Contacts

  1. Under Select from Outlook contacts in the task pane, click Choose Contacts Folder.
  2. In the Select Contact List Folder dialog box, click the Contact list folder that contains your recipient names and addresses, and then click OK.
  3. The Mail Merge Recipients dialog box opens.

 Note   If you run into problems connecting to your Outlook Contacts list, get problem-solving help by clicking an Answer Box link under See Also.

ShowType a new list

  1. Under Type a new list in the task pane, click Create.
  2. The New Address List dialog box opens. Under Enter Address information, you see a list of categories, such as First Name, Last Name, Address Line 1, and so on. What you want to do is edit this list so it matches the categories of information you want to record about your recipients. For example, while the list in the dialog box includes items such as Title, Home Phone, and E-mail Address, you might want your list to include only First Name, Last Name, address information, and bar code. To edit the list of categories, click Customize.
  3. In the Customize Address List dialog box, use the buttons to add, delete, or change the order of the categories. When the list looks the way you want, click OK.
  4. Type the information for the first entry in the New Address List dialog box. Then, click New Entry to type the information for the second entry, and so on.

 Note   Go here to refresh your memory about what information to type for each bar code.

  1. When you've typed entries for all the recipients, click Close. In the Save Address List dialog box, type a name for the file, and then click Save. The Mail Merge Recipients dialog box opens.

Tips

  • By default, if you don't change the location, the mailing list data file you just created is saved to the My Data Sources folder in your My Documents folder. This is a convenient location. If, in the future, you want to create a new set of publications using the same data file, Publisher will automatically look first for the file in the My Data Sources folder.
  • If, in the future, you want to add to or edit the data file you just created, you have a couple of options. You can open the file in Access and edit it there. Or, you can edit the file from within Publisher. On the Tools menu, point to Mail and Catalog Merge, and then click Edit Address List. In the Open Address List dialog box, locate the data file, and then click Open.
  1. The Mail Merge Recipients dialog box gives you the opportunity to narrow or sort the entries in the data file. For example, you might want to do a mailing only to customers in a certain city. If you don't want to narrow or sort the information, click OK. If you want to narrow or sort the information, you can do some or all of the following things before you click OK.
  • If you don't want the information in one particular row to appear on a label or envelope, click the check box at the beginning of the row to clear it.
  • To sort the rows according to the ascending or descending order of information in a particular column, click the column heading.
  • To narrow the list of rows according to specific criteria, click the arrow next to a column heading.

 Note   If you used your Outlook Contacts file as your data file and stored bar codes in one of the user fields (for example, User Field 1), you will have to scroll a long way to the right in the Mail Merge Recipients dialog box to see that field. You can change the position of a field in the dialog box by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the field's column heading to the left or right.

Add and format placeholders

Placeholders, also called merge fields, correspond to column headings from your data file. By putting a bar code merge field in a label or envelope publication, for example, you indicate where you want information from the bar code column to appear in the printed copies. You can format fields so the information on the printed labels or envelopes looks the way you want it to look. For example, you can format the bar code field so information in that field prints in a postal bar code font.

ShowTo add and format placeholders on envelopes

  1. In the task pane, under Use an existing list, your data file is now listed. Click Next: Create your publication at the bottom of the task pane.
  2. Add the return address.
    • If there is sample text for return address, click it. Type your return address.
    • If there is no return address text box, on the Objects toolbar, click Text Box Button image. On the envelope, drag diagonally to create a text box for the return address. Type your return address.
  3. Now, you'll add fields for address and bar code.
    • If there is sample text for mailing address on the envelope, go on to the next step.
    • If there is no text box for mailing address, on the Objects toolbar, click Text Box Button image. On the envelope, drag diagonally to create a text box for the mailing address.
  4. On the Objects toolbar, click Text Box Button image again. On the envelope, above the mailing address text box, drag diagonally to create another text box for the bar code. Make sure there is at least .04 inches between the top of the mailing address text box and the bottom of the bar code text box. Also, make sure the bar code text box ends at least .04 inches away from the edge of the envelope. The text box will most likely need to be almost 3 inches long to accommodate the entire printed bar code.
  5. Click in the mailing address text box. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, click Address Block.
  6. In the Address Block dialog box, choose the format for recipient names, and then click Match Fields.
  7. In the Match Fields dialog box, make sure that each address component listed on the left that you are using in your addresses is matched with a column from your data file on the right. Click OK, and then click OK again.

An «Address Block» field appears in the envelope publication.

  1. Click in the bar code text box. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, locate the box where the column headings from your data file are listed. Point to the bar code column heading in the list, click the arrow on the right, and then click Insert as Text to add a «barcode» field to the envelope publication.

List of data file column headings

 Note   If you're merging bar codes from an Outlook Contacts file, the field containing the bar codes will be called User Field 1, User Field 2, User Field 3, or User Field 4.

  1. Select the «barcode» or «user field» field you just added, including the chevrons (« »). On the Format menu, click Font. In the Font dialog box, under Font, choose the postal bar code font. Under Size, select the font size that, according to your font documentation, meets USPS requirements. Click OK.

The «barcode» or «user field» field may change size and appearance.

 Note   You can change the font, size, color and more for the mailing address text as well. Just select the «Address Block» field including the chevrons (« ») and apply the formatting you want.

ShowTo add and format placeholders on labels

  1. In the task pane, under Use an existing list, your data file is now listed. Click Next: Create your publication at the bottom of the task pane.
  2. Now, you'll add fields for address and bar code.
    • If there is sample text on the label, click it. Place the pointer over the clear round circle at the top of the text box. Drag down to make the text box about two-thirds or half of its original size. Click outside of the text box to cancel selection of the text.
    • If there is no sample text on the label, on the Objects toolbar, click Text Box Button image. On the label, drag diagonally to create a mailing address text box that is about half to two-thirds the height and almost the full length of the label, except for about .25 inches at each end. Be sure to leave approximately .125 inches of space at the bottom of the label as well.
  3. On the Objects toolbar, click Text Box Button image.
  4. Drag diagonally to create a bar code text box in the empty top area of the label. Make this new text box the same length as the other text box on the label, and leave a space of at least .04 inches between the top of the text box and the top of the label, and between the bottom of the bar code text box and the text box below it.
  5. Click in the mailing address text box on the label. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, click Address Block.
  6. In the Address Block dialog box, choose the format for recipient names, and then click Match Fields.
  7. In the Match Fields dialog box, make sure that each address component listed on the left that you are using in your addresses is matched with a column from your data file on the right. Click OK, and then click OK again.

An «Address Block» field appears in the label publication.

  1. Click in the bar code text box. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, locate the box where the column headings from your data file are listed. Point to the bar code column heading in the list, click the arrow on the right, and then click Insert as Text to add a «barcode» field to the label publication.

List of data file column headings

 Note   If you're merging bar codes from an Outlook Contacts file, the field containing the bar codes will be called User Field 1, User Field 2, User Field 3, or User Field 4.

  1. Select the «barcode» or «user field» field you just added, including the chevrons (« »). On the Format menu, click Font. In the Font dialog box, under Font, choose the postal bar code font. Under Size, select the font size that, according to your font documentation, meets USPS requirements. Click OK.

The «barcode» or «user field» field may change size and appearance.

Preview and print the labels or envelopes

Now you're ready to merge information from the data file into the publication. This will create a new label or envelope for each row of information that you've chosen to merge. When you preview the publications, you can identify any problems that need to be fixed before you complete the merge.

ShowTo preview and print the bar coded publications

  1. At the bottom of the task pane, click Next: Preview your publication.

Here is how one merged publication might look:

Preview of label with barcode

  1. Use the buttons in the task pane to page through and preview all of the merged publications.
    • If you see problems, click Previous: Create your publication at the bottom of the task pane to return to the previous step so you can fix the problems.

Examples of problems you might encounter include:

  • The bar code text box might be too short to allow the entire bar code to display. Click the border around the text box, then drag a white handle until the text box is the right length.
  • You might want to change the font or font size and color in the address block. Select the «Address Block» field, including the chevrons (« »). On the Format menu, click Font to make the changes.
  • Addresses might not be displaying correctly. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, click the Address Block link. In the Address Block dialog box, click Match Fields. In the Match Fields dialog box, make sure that each address component listed on the left that you are using in your addresses is matched with a column from your data file on the right. Click OK, and then click OK again.
  • If you're satisfied with the previews, click Next: Complete the merge.
  1. Now you're ready to print.
    • If you're printing labels, make sure that the label information will line up properly when you print on your label sheet by previewing the printed result first. On the File menu click Print Preview. If you need to make some adjustments, in the print preview window, click Adjust Label Printing. Make the necessary margin and gap changes in the Label Printing Options dialog box, and then click OK. Close the print preview window.

Note    In the print preview window, it will look like a whole page of the same label. This is just a quirk of the print preview window. There will be different information on each label when you actually print.

  • If you're printing envelopes, click a link in the See Also box to learn more about setting up your printer to print envelopes by manual feed.
  1. In the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane, click Print. Choose the printing options you want, and then click OK.

Note     If you're printing labels, do not click Create new publication or Add to existing publication in the Mail and Catalog Merge task pane. If you create a new publication or add the labels to an existing publication, you'll get a whole sheet of labels for each recipient rather than just one label for each.

  1. On the File menu, click Save to save the publication.

 Note   Keep in mind that what you're saving here isn't the set of labels or envelopes you just printed. It's the publication with its connection to your data file and its placeholder fields. By saving the publication, you can quickly create another set of labels or envelopes when the need arises. The publication remembers which data file you connected it to so you can jump ahead to the previewing step.

ShowTo quickly create another set of labels or envelopes

  1. Open the saved publication. You'll see an alert box that says opening the publication will access data from the data file. Click Yes. You'll see your publication with text and placeholder fields already in place.
  2. On the Tools menu, point to Mail and Catalog Merge, and then click Show Merge Results. The Mail and Catalog Merge task pane opens at the preview step. If the merged labels or envelopes look good when you preview them, you can just quickly complete the merge. If you updated the information in the data file since the first time you ran a set of labels or envelopes, the new information will show up on the merged publications. You can even switch to a different data file altogether. To learn how, click a link under See Also.
 
 
Applies to:
Publisher 2003