Creating Moving Box Labels

Here’s a challenge: We’re moving, and my wife wants me to make labels for each box. Each label would have our name and (new) address centered at the top, with a large number below; the numbers would be ordered in sequence from 1 to 300.

How would you do this, and what software would you use? (No points for making address labels and adding 300 numbers by hand!)

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OK, I posted this question having already figured out a (very geeky) answer, but I wanted to see if there were other, perhaps easier, methods people might come up with.

I realized I already had a command-line labels script that would work, “palabels,” via Dr. Drang:

The key modification is to populate the Entries array with Perl’s command to create a numerical sequence:

@entries = (1..300);

For the rest, I had to learn how to modify the troff code for PostScript formatting. I did this by trial and error, until I discovered the manual:

I had to install Ghostscript to get the ps2pdf program that converts PostScript to PDF. The script also uses the GNU groff typesetting system, which must be included with macOS because I didn’t have to install it.

To run, I un-commented the lines that would open the labels in Preview rather than print them directly, ran the script in Terminal, and then saved the resulting PDF from Preview for future use.

Yes, I probably spent more time on this than I could have copy/pasted 299 times, but what the hey, it’s computer magic!


Can this be done in Pages?

OK, but I still don’t know how you did it.

Excellent! I think we sometimes make things more complicated than needed. I have an “advantage” in this regard. I have zero knowledge of programming/coding so I’m always looking for the simplest approach. :slight_smile:

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Pages has very powerful tables, and you can autoincrement if you like. So I would have created the first two labels (the first row), and in the row underneath simply used the formula cell above + 1, then dragged the formula row down :slight_smile:

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OK, but what if you want a specific size label? Dr. Drang’s script is set for Avery 5164 labels (six to a page). How would you use the page-number scheme to format these kinds of labels?

As for the table-based labels, not only would I have to format the tables to fit the label size, I’d have to figure out the formula to put the right number in each table, going across and down. What is that formula?

Pages sucks. LibreOffice has label support (including A5164) from the get-go. Also easy to set up a label that would include box number, room and content. While you can get the labels done with Pages, in less thime you have downloaded the free LibreOffice and be done. Pages IMHO is just a toy.

But Avery comes to the rescue, they created templates for Pages:

Yeah, I found that Avery template (I had an old one that for some reason had stopped working). It looks like it’s best suited to a small set of manually-produced labels (“Type your text in this text box”), not the kind of usage we’re talking about here.

Not necessarily a solution to your question, but the best thing we ever did for moving was given each new room/or room a number, and then sequence it from there. So for example kitchen would be 100, so the first box we packed, would be 101. This made putting the boxes into their rooms for unpacking so much smoother. I could unload the truck, read the number to my wife, and she could tell the people exactly where to put it. Now my wife filled out the General content by hand, but I would totally do it again when moving.


One suggestion: you really want more than one label per box. When I move, I use five labels on each box. One on each of the four sides and one on the top. This may seem excessive, but it’s actually hugely useful. No matter how a box is stacked, you can see the label. If you’re carrying it, all you have to do to see the label is to look down at the top of the box. This saves a ton of time shifting boxes around trying to find the label on them.

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But why not get really geeky—and more human-readable—and set the script to print the actual name of the room according to the assigned number? Just a few more lines of code: put the rooms in an array, use if/then to print. The script approach thus becomes more serviceable.

Ha because I can’t code my wife :joy::joy:

I like the idea of priority too, that’s clever.