Brother P-Touch 2700/2710

Comprehensive label maker

I regularly have to label lots of electronic equipment. Compounding the complexity, I also have to label both ends of the cables that connect to this stuff. My customers generally have detailed requirements about all sorts of info to be included in these labels. While my peers generally have all the same labeling equipment available to them as I do, I use system that makes it much easier to manage the complex task. I use one of the higher end Brother P-Touch label makers, the PT-2700 that can connect to my computer via USB. I got my current one from eBay since the refurbed unit I’d been using for years developed an intermittent problem with the display (but it still printed fine). These were both less than $100.

Most of my peers sit in front of their labelers for hours pounding out one label after another. Frequently, they have to redo labels since their minds go numb pretty fast and they start making stupid mistakes. My approach, in contrast, takes a fraction of the time and is suitable for even small jobs of a handful of labels. My redo rate is almost nil, too.

There are two keys to doing bigger jobs with this little printer. The first is to use Excel’s CONCATENATE formulas to manipulate columns of variables (text or numbers, like names, IP addresses or rack IDs) into little chunks of data that you want to appear on your labels. Don’t be scared of this, formulas aren’t needed, but are terrific if there is complicated sequencing going on. This will make sense with a little fiddling in Excel. The second key is to use Brother’s “P-Touch Editor” software to connect to the Excel file as a database. Many fields, many lines and many format options are available for your typesetting efforts, so some pre-visualization of your finished product pays off here. Each line of your “database” will contain all the cells available to each individual label. One row, one label; many cells, many layout possibilities.

The first time you try this, it may be confusing, but going to File>Database>Connect will make the Excel file available for laying out the fields. Insert>Database Field will get your data into the label representation in the Editor’s screen. The bottom half of your screen will show all the data the Editor has to work with, and cycling between lines there will cycle the info on the label representation.

Once you’ve gotten things tweaked so you’re happy, do a “chain print” and soon a little pile of labels will accumulate. This system based approach is why I think the Brother P-Touch labeler is the best for producing large quantities of labels.

The TZ format tapes this printer uses are available in different widths, color combos and even with better adhesive (TZS labels are the best, and I use them almost exclusively). The PT-2710 adds a case & power adapter, space for various tape cassettes & spare batteries. Good for the back of a truck.

If professional, legible, well-formatted, long lasting identification labels are your goal, this is a terrific system to use. I depend on it.

-- Wayne Ruffner 11/16/11

(The 2710 is the same unit as the 2700, but comes with the optional carrying case.--OH — editors)

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