If you want to design your own labels for your business, school, charity or community organisation, you need to have the right software. Unfortunately, the industry standard software packages such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are quite expensive and if you're on a budget, the costs simply do not add up. Fortunately, in recent years, there has been an increase in the availability of high quality, feature rich and more importantly free word processing and graphic design software. Here's our guide to some of the best free software solutions currently available, which will help you to create professional labels without breaking the bank!
Open Office - www.openoffice.org
This has become the no.1 alternative to Microsoft Office, as it offers a genuinely comparable user experience, with all the features you would expect from paid for software. For designing and laying out labels, you can use Open Office Writer, a powerful word processing package. Writer supports .doc and .docx files, allowing you to open and edit readily available labels template documents. For drawing graphics you can use Open Office Draw, which has a number of built in shapes and graphics to use in your designs.
Gimp - www.gimp.org
Once you get past the odd name (Gimp actually stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program) you'll find a powerful image editing software package which supports all of the common image file formats. It includes all of the painting features you would find in Photoshop and a number of advanced image manipulation tools. It's ideal for editing images to be used in your labels designs and although, in our experience, the interface takes time to master, the cost savings compared to a full version of Photoshop, make the steeper learning curve well worth it.
Paint.net - www.getpaint.net
Although it shares its name with the universally loathed Microsoft Paint program, Paint.net is a far superior alternative and was initially designed as an advanced replacement for the original software. It has developed into a highly regarded software package which has won numerous awards for its intuitive and innovative user interface. It has a number of useful special effects and a very handy unlimited history, which allows you to Undo and Redo to hearts content!
Google Fonts & Sky Fonts - www.fonts.com/web-fonts/google
Google have provided the Google Fonts service for some time now, allowing web designers access to a wide range of contemporary fonts, free of charge for use in web pages. These fonts are also available for desktop applications, such as the ones featured here via the Sky Fonts service from Fonts.com.