Add postal bar codes to labels or envelopes in Publisher

The United States Postal Service (USPS) developed the Delivery Point Barcode (DPBC) to help automate the sorting of letter mail to more than 100 million unique delivery points in the United States. When you add postal bar codes to each envelope or label in your mailing, you may qualify for an automation discount.

Address label with bar code




    Postal bar code requirements

    Add postal bar codes to a recipient list

    Open or create an envelope or label publication

    Use mail merge to add the bar codes to the publication

    Preview and print the envelopes or labels


    Postal bar code requirements

    Before you add postal bar codes to labels and envelopes, you must have a postal bar code font installed on your computer. You can obtain bar code fonts from a variety of companies. To locate a company that offers bar code fonts, search for "barcode font" or "bar code font" at Microsoft Office Marketplace on Office Online or by using an Internet search engine.

    Carefully read the documentation that comes with the bar code font that you purchase. The documentation should spell out exactly which characters and numbers you need to type to create a valid bar code, as well as the font size to use if you want to meet USPS requirements, how to create the long bars that frame the beginning and end of the bar code, and more.

    USPS guidelines for postal bar codes vary with the type of mailing (letter, reply mail, periodicals, and so forth). Be sure to check the guidelines for the requirements that relate to your specific usage. Bulk mailing rates require that you follow certain handling and mailing procedures. In addition, the USPS periodically changes the way it calculates postal bar codes. For these reasons, be sure to work with your local post office and review current United States Postal Service bar code information.

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    Add postal bar codes to a recipient list

    You add bar codes to labels or envelopes the same way that you add names and addresses, by preparing a data source and using mail merge.

    The data source is the Microsoft Office Publisher recipient list, Microsoft Office Access database table, Microsoft Office Excel worksheet, 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 source. 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 source 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 data 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 that is 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 which characters you should use.
    Callout 3 The information in each row corresponds to the information that will appear on one label or envelope.

    Add bar codes to a data source

    If you don't yet have a mailing list that you can use as your data source, you need to create one. For information about creating mailing lists, see Tips for mailing lists.

    If you already have a mailing list, you need to add the bar code numbers to each record. You can type these numbers into a column of the data source that you plan to use for the mail merge.

    If you created your data source in Publisher, you can use the following procedure to update your data source. If you created your data source in Access, Excel, Outlook, or another program, you can best update your data source in the same program that you used to create it. You can also edit a data source that was created in any of these programs after you connect to the recipient list during a mail merge in Publisher.

    Update the data source

    1. In Publisher, on the Tools menu, point to Mailings and Catalogs, and then click Edit Address List.
    2. In the Open Address List dialog box, select the data source, and then click Open.
    3. In the Edit Data Source dialog box, click Customize Columns.
    4. In the Customize Address List dialog box, click Add.
    5. In the Add Field dialog box, type a field name (or column heading), such as Bar code, click OK, and then click OK again.
    6. In the Edit Data Source dialog box, click the first cell in the new column where you want to enter the data.
    7. Type a bar code, and then press the DOWN ARROW key to move to the row below.
    8. Repeat until you have listed all of the bar codes that you plan to use.
    9. Click OK to save and close your file.

     Note   Even if you have a bar code column in your data source, you'll still need a separate Postal Code column if you want ZIP codes and other postal codes to show up in the address on the printed labels or envelopes.

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    Open or create an envelope or label publication

    After your data source is set up, you are ready to open the envelope or label publication. If you already have a publication that you used for mailings in the past, you can just open that publication. If you are starting from scratch, open a publication that matches the size of the envelopes or labels on which you intend to print names, addresses, and bar codes. If you are printing labels, note the product number, such as 5160 or L7163, that is associated with the package of labels that you purchased. You will need this number to open the right publication.

    Open an existing publication

    1. Start Publisher.
    2. On the File menu, click Open.
    3. In the Open Publication dialog box, locate the envelope or label publication that you want, and then click Open.

    Start from scratch with envelopes

    1. Start Publisher.
    2. In the Publication Types list, do one of the following:
      • To start with a plain blank envelope, click Blank Page Sizes, and then click Envelopes.
      • To start with a pre-designed envelope, under Publication Types, click Envelopes, and then customize your publication by making any changes that you want.

    Under Customize, you can specify color and font schemes and the business information set to apply to the design.

    1. Click Create.

    Start from scratch with labels

    Many publications can be set up to print on a specific manufacturer's label products. For example, you can design labels by using one of the designs in Publisher and then print your publication on a specific manufacturer's label paper, such as Avery, NCR, or Printec.

    1. Start Publisher.
    2. In the Publication Types list, click Blank Page Sizes, and then click Mailing Labels, Media Labels, or Other Labels.

    Under Customize, you can specify color and font schemes and the business information set to apply to the design.

    1. Find the name of the manufacturer of your labels, and expand the list.
    2. Scroll through the label publications, click the product number or size that matches those of your package of labels, and then click Create.

     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. Other product numbers may be 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 8163, you can select Avery 8463, 8663, 15163, or 18163 in Publisher.

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    Use mail merge to add the bar codes to the publication

    With the label or envelope publication open, you are ready to connect it to a data source, which is a file that contains the names, addresses, and bar codes that you want to add. After you create the connection, you will 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   If you want to merge pictures into your publication pages — to add a company logo, for example — your data source must include either file names or paths (path: The route that the operating system uses to locate a folder or file; for example, C:\House finances\March.doc.) for the picture files that you want to merge. Do not include the actual pictures or images in your data source.

    Connect to the data source

    1. On the Tools menu, point to Mailings and Catalogs, and then click Mail Merge.
    2. In the Mail Merge task pane, under Create recipient list, click Use an existing list, and then click Next: Create or connect to a recipient list.
    3. In the Select Data Source dialog box, click the data source that contains the bar codes.

    By default, Microsoft Publisher stores data sources in the My Data Sources folder. You may need to browse to locate your data source.

    1. Click Open.

    Depending on the type of data source that you select, other dialog boxes may appear requesting specific information. For example, if your data source is a Microsoft Office Excel workbook that has information on multiple worksheets, you need to select the worksheet that contains the information that you want, and then click OK.

    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 an Outlook Contacts file as your data source 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 dragging the field's column heading to the left or right.

    1. Click OK to return to the Mail Merge task pane.

    Add and format placeholders

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

    Add and format placeholders on envelopes

    1. If you created a business information set, it is inserted as the return address. If not and if you are not printing on envelopes that already have your return address printed on them, or if you started with a blank page size to create your envelope publication, add the return address.
      • If there is sample text for the return address, click it, and then 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, and then type your return address.
    2. Now, add fields for the address and bar code.
      • If there is sample text for the mailing address on the envelope, go on to the next step.
      • If there is no text box for the 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.
    3. 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. Draw the text box according to the offset specified by USPS bar code guidelines. For example, the bar code likely must be at least .04 inches away from the top of the mailing address text box, the bottom of the bar code text box, and 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.

     Note   Be sure to check USPS guidelines for the measurement of offset from other elements on the envelope.

    1. Click in the mailing address text box.
    2. In the Mail Merge task pane, under More items, click Address Block.
    3. In the Insert Address Block dialog box, choose the format for recipient names, and then click Match Fields.
    4. 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 source 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 Merge task pane under Prepare your publication, click the bar code data field in the list to add a «Bar code» field to the envelope publication.

    List of data fields in Mail Merge task pane

     Note   If you are merging bar codes from an Outlook Contacts file, the field that contains the bar codes is probably called User Field 1, User Field 2, User Field 3, or User Field 4.

    1. Select the «Bar code» or «User Field» field that you just added, including the chevrons (« »).
    2. On the Format menu, click Font.
    3. 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.
    4. Click OK.

    The «Bar code» 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 that you want.

    Add and format placeholders on labels

    1. Add fields for address and bar code by doing one of the following:
      • 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 the text box to cancel selection of the text box.
      • 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.
    2. On the Objects toolbar, click Text Box Button image.
    3. 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.
    4. Click in the mailing address text box on the label. In the Mail Merge task pane under More items, click Address Block.
    5. In the Insert Address Block dialog box, choose the format for recipient names, and then click Match Fields.
    6. 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 Merge task pane under Prepare your publication, click the bar code data field in the list to add a «Bar code» field to the envelope publication.

    List of data fields in Mail Merge task pane

     Note   If you are merging bar codes from an Outlook Contacts file, the field that contains the bar codes is probably called User Field 1, User Field 2, User Field 3, or User Field 4.

    1. Select the «bar code» or «user field» field you just added, including the chevrons (« »).
    2. On the Format menu, click Font.
    3. 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 «Bar code» 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, and apply the formatting that you want.

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    Preview and print the envelopes or labels

    Now you are ready to merge information from the data file into the publication to create a new label or envelope for each row of information that you have chosen to merge. When you preview the publications, you can identify any problems that need to be fixed before you print them.

    Preview the addresses and bar codes

    1. To preview entries in order, click the navigation buttons Button image Button image to see how each entry will appear in your merged publication.

    Here is how one merged publication might look:

    Preview of label with bar code

    1. If you see problems, now is the time to fix them. Examples of problems that you might encounter include:
    2. If you are satisfied with the previews, at the bottom of the task pane click Next: Create merged publications.

    Some of the bar code is missing

    The bar code text box might be too short to allow the entire bar code to display. Click the border around the text box, and then drag a white handle until the text box is the right length.

    The addresses are not displayed correctly

    Addresses might not be displayed correctly. In the Mail Merge task pane, click the Address Block link. Move the pointer to the upper left corner of the text box that contains the Address Block, click the Merge Field drop-down menuButton image, and then click Change Address Block. In the Change 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 source on the right. Click OK, and then click OK again.

    The text formatting does not look right

    You may 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 open the Font dialog box, and then make the changes that you want.

    Print the merged publication

    Now you are ready to print. If you print the addresses and bar codes on envelopes, you print the publications as separate sheets. If you print the addresses and bar codes on labels, you can print a range of addresses and their associated bar codes on a sheet of labels or you can print multiple copies of the same address and its associated bar codes on all labels on a sheet.

    Print the addresses and bar codes on envelopes

    After you create your envelope and select the page size that you want, you are ready to print your envelope.

    1. On the Mail Merge task pane, click Print, and then click the Publication and Paper Settings tab.
    2. Check the Preview window. If you are not sure how to insert your envelope, click Show how to insert paper, and then click Open the Envelope Setup dialog box.
    3. In the Envelope Setup dialog box, the image with the thick blue border shows the recommended option for your printer.
      Envelope setup illustration

     Note   The number of trays and options vary depending on the manufacturer, type, and model of the printer that you are using.

    1. Click OK, and then click Print.
    2. On the File menu, click Save to save the publication.

     Note   Keep in mind that what you are saving is not the set of envelopes that you have printed. Rather, you are saving the publication with its connection to your data source and its placeholder fields. By saving the publication, you can quickly create another set of envelopes when you need to. The publication maintains the link to the data source that you connected it to so that you can jump ahead to the previewing step.

    Print the addresses and bar codes on labels

    1. On the File menu, click Print Setup.
    2. In the Print Setup dialog box, do one of the following:
      • To set up your labels so that a different address and its associated bar code print on each label on a sheet, under Printing options, click Multiple pages per sheet, and then click OK.
      • To set up your labels so that multiple copies of the same address and its associated bar code print on all labels on each sheet, under Printing options, click Multiple copies per sheet, and then click OK.
    3. Preview the printed result to make sure that the label information aligns properly on your label sheet. In the Mail Merge task pane under Create merged publications, click Print preview. If you need to, make adjustments to align the addresses and bar codes on the labels.

    ShowHow?

    1. Click Close to close the print preview window.
    2. On the File menu, click Page Setup.
    3. In the Page Setup dialog box, click Advanced. Make the necessary margin and gap changes in the Custom Page Size dialog box, and then click OK twice.
    4. In the Mail Merge task pane under Create merged publications, click Print preview again to check your adjustments.
    1. Click Close to close the print preview window.
    2. In the Mail Merge task pane under Create merged publications, click Print. Choose the printing options that you want, and then click OK.
    3. On the File menu, click Save to save the publication.

     Note   Keep in mind that what you are saving is not the set of envelopes that you have printed. Rather, you are saving the publication with its connection to your data source and its placeholder fields. By saving the publication, you can quickly create another set of envelopes when the need arises. The publication maintains the link to the data source that you connected it to so you can jump ahead to the previewing step.

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    Applies to:
    Publisher 2007