David’s Tech Tip – Bartender and Excel

It’s no secret – I’m a fan of Seagull’s Bartender label design software and I use it everyday. One of the features I really like is the fact that a database dummy such as myself can easily connect my labels to a datasource to populate my labels with the info I need.

Quite often we are printing labels for clients and they provide the data in Excel spreadsheets. 99% of the time this works perfectly, the other 1% has been killing me.

So yesterday I’m setting up to print some MIL-STD-130 UID labels for one of the big defense contractors. The customer had kindly sent me a spreadsheet with all the data for the 500 or so labels he needed. It took just a few minutes to tweak the template and connect to the spreadsheet.

Looking good, time to print. Before I run a job I always do a preview to make sure that there will be no strange issues with any of the labels. In this case there was a problem, some of the serial numbers refused to be seen by Bartender. Indeed, any serial number that contained any letters would not show up in Bartender at all.

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before and when I’ve spoken with the Seagull guys they’ve told me that it is a Microsoft issue and is well known. Not sure I buy into this, I would have thought that if there is a problem like this in Excel it would have been fixed by now. In anycase, doesn’t help me with my problem.

I tried all the usual things, formatting the cells as text rather than numbers etc., but no progress, numeric serial numbers were fine, add a letter or two and the field was left blank.

In the past, I’ve worked around this by using Access instead of Excel. As I mentioned, I’m a database dummy so having to use a proper database program is not good as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, I solved the problem a different way – I simply saved the spreadsheet as a tab delimited text file, connect this file to the label and “Hey Presto” works great.

So I still have no idea why Excel and Bartender don’t seem to like each other from time to time, but at least there is a simple workaround. That’s today’s Tech Tip.

If you use Bartender have you run into this problem? If you have a better solution than mine please share!

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