Making CD and DVD Labels with OpenOffice.org Templates

I'm quite honoured to present a new article by Solveig Haugland, whom I consider to be the guru when it comes to the OpenOffice.org suite. As a matter of fact, almost everything I know about OOo actually came from her first OOo book The OpenOffice.org 1.0 Resource Kit. Her new book The OpenOffice.org 2 Guidebook is sure to be a must-read if you're interested in exploring the power of OOo, as is her blog. --DJ

Printing labels for your CDs and DVDs using OpenOffice.org can help you not only easily organize your media storage but make it look good, too. This article talks about how to use OpenOffice.org with the free WorldLabel templates.

Getting Started: WorldLabel's Templates

WorldLabel lets you download free templates in OpenOffice.org formats. For OpenOffice.org you can download label templates in .stw or .ott file format for Openoffice.org 1.1x and 2.x version for Writer. You can look them up by the number on your Avery label sheet box or read the description. There's a huge number of templates including those for CD and DVD and other formats. The templates are XML Open Document Format (ODF), Public Domain. For US Letter sizes: Visit here. For A4 sizes: Visit here.

Downloading WorldLabel templates

The first step, of course, is to get the templates onto your computer. First, make a directory where you’re going to put them. Create a directory at C:\labels or home/labels, for instance, though you can put them wherever you want.

To download the template, find the “Download” link, under the version you want. If you’re using the current version of OpenOffice.org, use the link under the 2.0 version for .ott files. Then right-click on “Download” and choose “Save Target As...”. When the dialog box appears, specify the labels directory that you made, and click “Save”. Repeat the downloading steps for any additional templates you want.

Using and customizing the templates

The WorldLabel templates are created with tables; you don’t see the borders since they’ve simply been formatted that way. If you take a close look, though, when you click in the template, you can see the table toolbar. In this illustration I've also turned on the borders for the table to make it clearer where the borders are.

Figure 1: Labels and the table formatting toolbar

This means you have all the formatting capabilities that you normally get with a table, including the following:

  • alignment to the top, middle, or bottom
  • background formatting—you can apply a color to the background of each cell
  • easier cutting and pasting than with frames
  • easier selection of all the content of a row, column, or the whole table
  • easier copying and pasting; you can easily select the whole table and copy it onto the next page, to make multi-page sheets of labels.

To apply values to the table, like backgrounds, choose Table → Table Properties and choose the appropriate tab.

Figure 2: Formatting labels using the Table window

To modify table, choose View → Toolbars → Table

Figure 3: The Tables toolbar

Showing and hiding table borders

Tables are easier to work with, when you’re doing any extensive customization, if the borders are visible. To see the borders of the table, select the whole table. You can simply click in the upper right cell and drag down to the lower right cell, or click in one of the cells and press “Ctrl + A”. Then click and hold down on the indicated borders icon in the Tables toolbar, and select the lower right option for borders on all cells.

Figure 4: Adding visible borders to the labels

The table borders appear.

To take the borders off later, just repeat those steps but choose the upper left option in the borders palette for no borders on any cells.

Adding text content to your labels

At this point, the simplest but most labor-intensive approach is to just start typing. Add whatever you want the label to say, format it the way you want it, then copy and paste it to each other label area in the document.

Using Fontwork

Fontwork is a nice way to make a label more exciting. Click the Fontwork Gallery icon on the main toolbar at the top of the work area, or choose View → Toolbars → Drawing to display the Drawing toolbar and click the Fontwork Gallery icon.

Figure 5: The Fontwork Gallery icon

In the window that appears, sect the design you like and double-click it.

Figure 6: Selecting a Fontwork design

The placeholder text with the design you selected will appear in the label.

Figure 7: Placeholder Fontwork text

Double-click the text so that the small piece of text that says Fontwork is selected, as shown.

Figure 8: Double-clicking the placeholder text

Type the text that you want to have appear, such as the name of the music or movie.

The text will still be a bit too big so resize it the way you'd resize a graphic by dragging one of the corners.

Figure 9: Resizing the Fontwork text object

You can change the color by selecting it, then using the dropdown lists in the toolbar to select Colors, Gradients, Hatchings, or Bitmaps; then a specific fill.

Figure 10: Applying different formatting

When you're done, copy the Fontwork text to the other label area.

Figure 11: Copy the Fontwork to any additional labels in the sheet

Adding graphics to any label

A major feature of OpenOffice.org templates is the ability to add graphics. You can add them in the corner, or in the background as a watermark.

Inserting a graphic

Just click in the cell where you want the graphic. Choose Insert → Picture → From File. Then find the graphic on your computer and select it. The graphic will appear.

Figure 12: A graphic added to a label

To resize it, hold down “Shift” and drag one of the corner handles in or out.

Wrapping text around a graphic

A graphic might look good with text on top of or below it, but you might also want the text on top of the graphic or next to the graphic.

To wrap the text around the graphic, right-click on the graphic and choose “Page Wrap”.

Figure 13: Wrapping text around the graphic

Now you can move the graphic and the text will get out of its way. If necessary, delete any new carriage returns that were created.

Figure 14: A graphic with wrapping

Note: To specify a little more room around the graphic, right-click and choose “Picture”. In the “Wrap” tab, specify spacing.

Adding a background graphic

You can add a graphic to the background of each label, too.

1. First, format the text the way you want it, since with a background graphic the text will be harder to select.

2. Insert the graphic in the label the same way you do with other graphics, by choosing Insert → Picture → From File.

3. Lighten the picture if necessary. When you click on it the Picture toolbar appears. Increase the transparency as shown in the illustration, or use the Contrast and Brightness icons to increase the brightness and decrease the lightness.

Figure 15: Lightening a graphic

4) . Then right-click on the graphic and choose Wrap → In Background.

Figure 16: Putting a graphic in the background

5. You’ll see the graphic in the background. Move or format the graphic or text to make it look the way you want.

Figure 17: The watermark graphic in the background of the label

Making additional label pages

If you’re creating labels, you often need more than just one page. So, to make a multi-page sheet of labels, you essentially just have to select the whole table and paste it onto the next page.

Select the whole table, after you've got the content and formatting you want. You can simply click in the upper right cell and drag down to the lower right cell, or click in one of the cells and press “Ctrl + A”.

1. Copy the table.

2. Click below the table

3. Paste. The table will appear on the next page. Repeat these steps to add additional pages.


About the Author: Solveig Haugland has worked as an instructor, course developer, author and technical writer in the high-tech industry for 16 years. She is the author of the OpenOffice.org 2 Guidebook and blogs about OpenOffice.org at openoffice.blogs.com. To inquire about OpenOffice.org training and consulting, see her business site or email training@getopenoffice.org.

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