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My QSL labels don't print correctly. How do I fix the report?
#1 Posted : Thursday, February 6, 2014 1:48:29 AM(UTC)

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G'Day All,

Printers are such wonderful devices - so many to choose from.

I have recently fielded several emails assisting members with printing QSL label reports. For the benefit of all, restated here is much of the detail of those emails. I always answer all emails, but much prefer my assistance with LOGic be provided on this LOGic forum for the benefit of all members.

Modifying a report is relatively easy - just a bit tedious. But, lets start with the basics.

One can print any report to any printer and there will always be "black smudges" somewhere on the paper in the printer. Laser and Ink jet printers have mechanisms not to put ink all over the place - only on the paper.

In the past, one could move the paper in the printer, stop the printer, move the paper - do all sorts of physical things, to make the "black smudges" appear where you wanted them. But, those days have long past. These days one needs to get all the software parameters correct, before you actually send the material to the printer to be printed.

If you have a laser printer, or an ink jet printer, almost any modern printer, one cannot physically touch the paper - everything has to be done in software. One simply "loads the tray with paper" and the printer does everything else , the paper, untouched by human hands.

Most printers cannot print at the top edge of the paper, nor print right to the bottom edge. And worse, the unprintable areas top and bottom are of different heights, paper type to paper type, printer to printer, brand to brand.

LOGic provides a backup facility, but does not include the Report sub-directory in the backup. The QSO log is the main focus of the LOGic backup. You must use other means to backup any reports you might modify.

All the reports in LOGic do essentially the same thing. It does not matter whether the report is intended for a label sticker, a sheet of paper, a QSL card, or a special label printer. You select the report, filter for the QSOs, and print to a printer. All the reports have the same set of tools with which to work.

The secret to printing in LOGic is to make sure everything is co-ordinated, each part with the other.

The reports supplied with LOGic will satisfy most needs. But, everybody has different ideas as to what a "good result" looks like. Colours, font style, font size are usually hard coded into the report. Many of the reports have large margins and line spacing hard coded, making printing expensive in terms of paper. All these things can be changed.

For labels - each report hard codes things like - columns per sheet, header height, footer height, label pitch (the distance from the top of one label to the top of the next). One can see this hard coding in the names of the reports - look down the names of the QSL Card/Labels reports and note how often the labels/card physical parameters appear in the names of the reports - indicating what is hard coded into the report.

Before you start using any report, the first question to ask yourself is - Are the parameters in this report correct for MY printer? ... for my label sheet? ... for the size of my QSL card? Dennis created these reports for himself, or used designs donated over time by others, and understood he needed to use parameters that would meet the needs of most, but duplicating reports with different parameter values as required. The process can never be perfect - he has no idea what printer, label sheets, special devices any one of us might attempt to use.

Modifying the LOGic reports is not difficult. But, like anything new, it takes time to gain the experience to feel comfortable doing the work, efficiently. Practice greatly improves the result.

Lets start with backing up your reports. We can create some peace of mind for when you make the first mistake.

Clearly, you only need to do this if you modify a report. I use the Report menu, any of the items, and click the "Manage report files" button to open Windows Explorer in the reports folder. I then use the usual Windows Explorer right click techniques to copy/paste and rename the report files for the report I want to modify.

For each report there are TWO files - XXX.REP and XXX.FPT. For example I copy/rename them as "_ 0 QSL Card - multiple QSOs.REP" and "_ 0 QSL Card - multiple QSOs.FPT". Be very careful - the two names must be identical apart from the extensions REP and FTP. The "under score" makes my reports appear in a group, and the "number" is used to record my version of the report, as I slowly make modifications a step at a time. After a while I might have five or six sets all with the same name, but a different number, usually 0 through 9. The highest numbered set of two files is the current version, and all the lower numbered files are a trail of backups at each stage of modification over time.

The trail of versions is my backup process. I copy/rename to the next version when I am happy with a small change I might make. I used a lot of versions when I started, a new version for each small change. If I completely muck up a change, I simply delete the latest version, and repeat the copy/rename from the last good version.

My QSL labels are always too far down the page, printing across the join in the labels?

This is usually caused by the definition of the header in the report. The usual value is hard coded at .5 inch for most label reports. But, one needs to allow for the "unprintable part" - specific to your printer and paper type. For my Cannon iX4000, to allow for the unprintable bit I have to set the report Page Header height to .46 inches. Then and only then did the labels print in the correct location.

To do that, create a copy of the report as detailed above, and use Reports, Modify Report Layout, and select the report to modify. Click on the Report Layout dialogue. Point at Page Header, right click and click on Properties. Change the height to a value you think will be correct. Save the report and test the Report. Repeat until you have the label printing where you want it.

There is no need to use a sheet of labels. Just use plain paper, double it with a sheet of labels, hold the result against the light to see where the print would be placed on an actual sheet of labels.

The detail of my QSL label is too small and light weight. How do I change it?

Each and every report consists of several parts. The layout such as field position, font style and size, the code and data for extracting the relevant QSOs from your Log, and the parameters about the page to be the printed.

Here we want to improve the layout, and don't need to change anything else.

Create a copy of the report as detailed above, and use Reports, Modify Report Layout, select the report to modify. Click on the Report Layout dialogue. The font style and size of each and every item can be changed, as can its position on the page. Don't change everything in one go. Work slowly, make small changes and test the report between changes. Create a new version of the report often, so when you make the first mistake, you can recover.

Remember if you change the font style, or size, the text will most likely take up more space on the printer page or label. You may need to reposition the items to create better spacing.

To change/move an item simply point at it and left click. When the item is selected, use Format, Font to change the style of the text. Use the keyboard arrows to move the item in the layout. To select multiple items, hold the shift key down as you click on each item. The style/move will be applied to all the items selected.

Remember - small changes at a time. Test the report between changes.

I cannot seem to get the text lined up correctly? Help?

Wow, I have real empathy with this one. Of all the things in LOGic reports, this takes the most time to get correct, to gain the experience to do it well.

The problem is compounded with the fact that what you see is what you get - there is NO zoom facility to enlarge the canvas. What you see on the screen is as big as it gets. With my eyes that is a problem. In Win7 - search for Magnify and learn how to use it.

Also making the work a bit tricky, is the fact that each field has "space below" and "space above". To make things fit, the report fields are often slightly overlapped vertically in the report layout.

But - there are tools to assist, they just take a bit more effort than usual.

With your mouse, if you click and drag from an open area, not on a field/item, and drag over several fields they will all be selected and you can move/modify them as a group. Remember any field you cross when you drag from an open spot will be selected. Look out for lines. After you have selected the fields, hold the shift key down and click the items you want to de-select.

Start with a column of items. Use the mouse to select the column. Use the keyboard to move the column about. Use Format, Font to change the style.

To align items - select several of them, and Use Format Align, Size, Horizontal/Vertical Spacing. The trick here is to not expect too much at first - simply open a report to modify, select some fields and muck about with the Align tools. Learn what they do, and don't save the report. Only start using the Align tools for real when you have seen what they do, and have had time to practice a bit. Otherwise you will be chasing your tail for a long time - and probably give up before achieving your goal.

Peter VK4IU
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