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Data-Driven Inventory Labels

Step-by-step for creating templated inventory labels with all data kept in external spreadsheet.

Over a period of time, the paper options utilized in my printing department were changed but none of the accompanying support documents were updated to reflect these changes.  I created the following workflow to create and manage the various changes and also be used for other inventory:

  1. A spreadsheet was created and maintained in MS Excel with all data required for creating various storage labels as well as article information for placing inventory orders.
  2. A template was designed in Adobe Illustrator utilizing the variable data features as well as Transform function for multiple layout options.
  3. Separate PDF files for each article were output from Illustrator.
  4. The PDF files were all combined together into multi-page file for printing.
  5. Upon printing, lamination was added to each paper sample
  6. Hand-trimming of two edges of each sample was the first step in cutting to create consistent alignment for the final action.
  7. A ream-cutting machine was used for each additional cut to finalize the different label options.

By keeping all of the information in a spreadsheet versus creating individual documents, I could update the file with all inventory items for the department and then create templates for the actual labels needed, keeping everything consistent and making production far less time-consuming.

There are a multitude of articles that I researched to be able to do this project, so following are those that were most helpful to my process:

Adobe Support: Data-driven graphics through templates and variables

Adobe Illustrator Variable Data – The EASY way!