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'How To' Tips


Shelf Tag Supply offers a wide variety of products which mark, tag, identify and locate
products and storage areas to help improve warehouse efficiency, labor productivity, and
cost reduction.

To help you determine "how to" design and place signs, design and display bar codes,
select dry erase versus damp erase marking, mount label holders, and print your own data
cards, we have provided a series of tips.

    (click on desired guide topic below)

     'How to Tip #1 - Warehouse Signs
     'How to Tip #2 - Warehouse Bar Code Labels
     'How to Tip #3 - Applying Freezer Labels
     'How to Tip #4 - Warehouse Dry Erase Markers vs Damp Erase Pens
     'How to Tip #5 - Warehouse Label Holder Mounting
     'How to Tip #6 - Printing Data Cards
     'How to Tip #7 - Sign Assembling and Mounting Instructions:
                   · Angled Sign Hanging Instructions
Dual Angled Sign Assembly
End-of-Rack Sign Assembly
Triangular & Cube Sign Assembly
Sign Edge Stiffener Assembly


Designing Warehouse Signs
You know you need some signs – How big? How will they layout? Letter sizing?
Also, see our Warehouse Sign Checklist to review various sign requirements - this list
is especially helpful for setting up a new warehouse facility. Print a pdf sheet

1. Reading Distance

Start by determining the how far away people will be (farthest point) when they
need to read the sign – see our Sign Distance Chart and determine the required
character size for your sign letters and numbers. Also, consider any character
colors that may be utilized as additional indicators. The sign material (background
color) is usually white or sometimes bright yellow.

2. Number of Characters per Sign

Once you know the required character height, determine how many letters and /or
numbers you will need across the width of the sign. Use 86% of the character
height as an estimate for the width of a character including spacing. For example:
if you need four 3" high characters, then your sign should be at least 10.3" wide
(4 x 3 x 86%). We can fudge this a bit by compressing the character width; so in
this example we should choose a 10" minimum width. We can compress character
width even more, up to about 60% of height, but you end up with characters that
are real tall and skinny and are not very easy to read. It is best to stay close to the
normal character width.

3. Height of Sign

Now determine the sign height – add a minimum of 20-25% of the character height
for space between rows of characters, a top margin, and a bottom margin. So in
our example, if you had two rows of 3" characters, you would need a sign at least
8.25" high. Again, you can "fudge" a bit, so either an 8"x10" or 10"x10" sign face
would do nicely.

4. Mounting and Hanging

Review the location where the sign is to be displayed. The sign can be mounted
to your racks, crossbeams, doors and frames with foam adhesive tape, magnetic
strips or pre-drilled holes for using nuts and bolts or rivets. For optimal adhesion,
the surface should be clean and dry. Dirty, dusty, oily and damp surfaces will
significantly reduce bounding of mount or holder to the surface. If needed, clean
surface with a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water, and then let dry. When
mounting, apply firm pressure across the bonding area. Hanging signs are generally
suspended from overhead beams, conduit or cables above open areas and attached
using our lightweight jack chain.

5. List Sign Contents

Now that you have designed the sign specifications, just list the characters to be
applied to each sign or the sequences of locations, numbers or codes for all the
signs. Provide this list via online (see the sign quote form for the sign type you
selected), fax or email and we will respond with a quick quote back to you.

6. Sign Creation

All signs are custom made-to-order. We will computer precision cut the color vinyl
for your characters and apply them to all the signs per your specifications. See examples of both text and color graphics - Letters, Numbers, Graphics. Use dark
color characters (such as black) on light color material (white, yellow) or use light
color characters (such as white) on darker material (blue, green, red).


Unless the sign is very simple or a re-order, we will make the first sign for each style
ordered and quickly send it to you for your approval. This is to ensure your complete
satisfaction with the design and style. Once approved, we will make and ship the
balance of your order generally in two weeks or less.

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Designing a Bar Code Label
Bar code labels come in all sizes, shapes and uses. We will concern ourselves in this section with the type used for shelf, rack and bin labeling in manufacturing concerns and warehouses. The primary considerations are accurate scans and ease of verifying the correct location or product code by reading the human readable information on the label.

1. Review Software and Hardware

Using information from your software provider and scan gun provider, coupled
with the distance at which to scan and the character set to be utilized in your
coding scheme, determine the type of barcode and the required barcode density
(mil size) for the distance from where you will need to scan.

2. Bar Code Width

Determine the approximate width of the bar code including "dead zones" at the
start and finish. Make the bar code pattern as high as allowed so you do not need
to be as exact in hitting a narrow target when aiming the gun.

3. Human Readable Layout

The human readable portion should display the bar code information, as well as
other important information such as product descriptions, etc., in an easy to read
format. Break up a long location/part code or SKU into component sections, such
as aisle-column-level-position separated by spaces, so you can read each section
quickly at a glance. It is often helpful to add colored background boxes behind
alternating sections of the human readable information to allow reading individual
sections more easily.

4. Code Layout

Layout the various bar code components on the label with the goal of easy and
quick scanability. Remember to allow for the "dead zones" at the beginning and
end of the bar code pattern.

Popular Warehouse Bar Code Styles
The bar code style you choose will generally be determined by the particular software
package or scan gun that you are using or by the character set that you must include in
the bar code. The specification sheet for your scan gun will generally list the various
bar code types it will decode. The most common styles in warehousing and manufacturing
are Code 39, Code 128 (USS-128) and Interleaved 2 of 5. Each of these coding styles is described below. Common to most codes are leading and following "dead zone" spaces,
start and stop characters, and check characters. Much of the information on the three
styles below was derived from Astro-Med, Inc. materials and is to be considered as "Copyright, Astro-Med, Inc., Used with Permission."

1. Code 39

The most commonly used bar code style, the Code 39 character set includes
digits 0 through 9, upper-case letters A through Z and some special characters
(,.$/+% and space). Lower case letters may also be encoded, but an extra
character is added for each extending the length of the barcode pattern. Each
character is represented by 9 elements – five bars and 4 intervening spaces. For
each character, exactly 3 of the 9 elements are wide and 6 are narrow – hence the term Code 39 or Code 3 of 9.

2. Code 128 (USS-128)

There are three types of this bar code style varying by the character set they can represent:
     Code A – includes all standard upper case alphanumeric keyboard characters
          as well as the control and special characters
     Code B – includes all standard uppercase and lowercase alphanumeric
           keyboard characters as well as the special characters
     Code C – includes the characters 0 through 9 and special characters only;
          characters are combined into two character sets (00 through 99) for encoding
          which allows the bar code to be much shorter than the above two types
Each character or character set consists of three bars and three spaces, each
being one of three widths.

3. Interleaved 2 of 5

The character set includes numerals 0 through 9 only and characters are encoded
as pairs so the number of characters must be an even number (including the check
digit) or a leading zero will be added to make the number of characters even. Each
character pair consists of five bars and five spaces in two widths.

Scanning Distance Gun to Label
The distance at which a given label can be scanned depends on several factors: the
type of scan gun, the mil size (density) of the bar code, the label material, the bar code
contrast, and the ambient lighting and glare. Mil width is the width of the narrowest bar
in the code set measured in thousands of an inch (mils).

1. Existing Scanning Guns

If you already have a scan gun, or if a type of gun is specified by your software
system provider, then the specs for that gun will determine the bar code design
necessary for a given scan distance. Each manufacturer will have a spec sheet
containing a table listing bar code type, mil width (density) of barcode, label
material (regular or retroreflective) and scan distance ranges. For example, a
Symbol LS 3200ER Extended Range Scanner lists the following barcode mil
widths and ranges:
     7.5 mil ~ 10 inches
     10 mil ~ 13 inches
     15 mil ~ 4 feet
     20 mil ~ 5 feet
     40 mil ~ 11 feet
     55 mil ~ 15 feet
     70 mil retro-reflective ~ 25 feet
     100 mil retro-reflective ~ 35 feet
Retro-reflective label material is like that used in traffic signs and is the label
material utilized for longer scan distances with compatible long-range scan guns.

Examples of spec sheets for an Intermec Scanner and Computer can be found at:
See the second page of these specs for the mil range tables.

2. New Scanning Guns

Links to some popular scanner manufacturers' websites are:
     Symbol Technologies

Bar Code Label Size
The width of a bar code for a given number of characters depends on the bar code style
chosen and the mil width of the narrowest bar. The wider the mil width, the greater the
scan distance (subject to the scan gun's specifications).

1. Sample Code Widths

Following are some approximate widths for representative bar code types and a
six character (123456) code. Each includes the "dead zone" light space at both
ends and check characters where applicable:

      width      Code 39   Interleaved 2 of 5   Code 128-C   Code 128-A

     12 mil         2.0"              1.3"                    1.2"               1.6"
     21 mil         3.4"              2.2"                    2.0"               2.8"
     42 mil         6.8"              4.3"                    4.2"               5.6"
     54 mil         8.7"              5.4"                    5.3"               7.3"
     72 mil       11.6"              7.2"                    7.0"               9.7"
     99 mil       16.0"              9.9"                    9.7"             13.3"

2. Width for an Additional Character

Approximate (very rough estimate) bar code length extension for one additional

      width      Code 39   Interleaved 2 of 5   Code 128-C   Code 128-A

     12 mil         .20"              .10"                    .08"               .15"
     21 mil         .70"              .18"                    .29"               .51"
     42 mil       1.16"              .62"                    .44"               .88"

Submitting Bar Codes to Us
To have us produce bar code labels for you, use your existing product location data and submit it to us in a spreadsheet format (Excel preferred). This can be provided via email -
upload your file at Contact Us for data submission.

1. Label Spreadsheet Instructions

a. Place data in one row for each label
b. Sequence rows in the same order in which you want your labels to be provided
c. For each data element to be printed separately on the label, place it in its own
    Ex #1 - simple:     Barcode   Human Readable
    Ex #2 - complex:  BC   HR   Sec   Aisle   Row   Level   Level Color   Arrow Dir
d. Select barcode symbology (code 128, code 39, etc.)
e. Use applicable characters for data (alphanumeric, upper/lower case, etc.) and
    text descriptor for use of colors, arrow directions, etc.
    (do NOT use colored cell boxes, arrow symbols, or other graphics)
f. Do NOT include unneeded characters ( ", #, *, ( ), -, =, :, etc.) or any blank
    spaces before, within or after the data stream - the barcode and the human
    readable data will print exactly as it is provided to us

2. Sample Spreadsheet Layout

A                   B                    C                                D
Label #           Bar Code        Human Readable          Arrow Direction
1                    A1234A          A-123-4-A                    Down
2                    A1234B          A-123-4-B                    Up
3                    A1234C          A-123-4-C                    Up
4                    A1235A          A-123-5-A                    Down
5                    A1235B          A-123-5-B                    Up

For additional examples, see Label Data Files

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Guidelines for Successful Application
The instructions below apply only to our Custom Warehouse Labels with special adhesive.
These labels can be applied in freezer temperatures of -10° and above. We recommend
testing a sample label prior to placing your full order.

1. Surface Preparation

The rack should be a powder coated steel, stainless steel or aluminum shelving
material in an environment of down to -10°. The surface must be free of any grease,
oil, food residue, dirt or other contaminants other than normal frost. If cleaning is
necessary, ensure the cleaning agent is thoroughly rinsed and removed.

2. Label Application

Briskly rub the rack surface in an area slightly larger than the label to remove frost
and moisture using a clean, dry towel. Immediately remove the label liner and apply
to the rack. If repositioning is needed (within 5 minutes of initial placement), carefully
peel label and re-apply.

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Which One to Choose?
Select the appropriate marker or pen when writing on labels, holders, mounts, signs,
boards and other surfaces in your warehouse.

1. Dry Erase Markers

A Dry Erase Marker writes on a dry erase compatible surface and can be removed
by just rubbing off with a tissue or dry rag. This marker type is generally used where
you are constantly writing information down, erasing and writing new information.
If left for long periods of time, weeks to months, it probably will not erase cleanly
without the aid of dry erase cleaning fluid and may leave "ghost marks" on the dry
erase surface.

2. Damp Erase Pens

A Damp Erase Pen writes on a damp erase compatible surface and can be removed
using a damp tissue or cloth. For most warehouse applications, damp erase is
preferred - so if someone just brushes against the writing, it doesn't come off as it
would with dry erase – it must be removed with a damp tissue. Usually if a surface
is dry erase compatible, it can also be used with damp erase inks.

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Choosing the Right Mounting Method
We offer the industry's widest range of standard and optional backings and mounting
methods for our bar code label and product location card holders. For optimal adhesion,
the surface should be clean and dry. Dirty, dusty, oily and damp surfaces will significantly
reduce bounding of mount or holder to the surface. If needed, clean surface with a 50/50
mix of isopropyl alcohol and water, then let dry. When mounting, apply firm pressure
across the bonding area.

1. Magnetic Strip

Strips of flexible brown magnet are generally .06" thick and ½" to 2" wide and
are used depending on the style of holder being mounted. We also use .12"thick strip
for more demanding applications like our larger magnetic aisle signs. Higher energy
(for greater magnetic holding power) magnetic strip is available on special order.

2. Full Magnetic Back

A solid magnetic backing, utilized on our Rack and Shelf Label Holders, is
constructed of a rectangular sheet of .03 inch thick flexible magnet adhered on the back. The magnet covers the entire back surface of the label holder with a low profile and superior mounting strength.

3. Foam Adhesive Strip

Strips of plastic foam tape with a permanent adhesive are generally .03 inches
thick and ½" to 1" wide. The foam allows adhesion to slightly irregular surfaces.
We also carry a high tack foam tape in a .06" thickness for applications requiring
greater initial tack and conformance to more irregular surfaces. This style is
recommended for new powder coated shelving components to which the normal
foam tape may not adequately bond.

4. Full Adhesive Back

A solid adhesive backing, utilized on our Rack and Shelf Label Holders, the entire
back side surface of the vinyl pocket is a permanent adhesive allowing both a low profile and superior holding power.

5. Velcro® Hook and Loop

We can affix strips of hook or loop to the back of your label holder. Mating strips
of hook or loop are affixed to the rack or shelving allowing the label holder to be
mounted securely in place, but easily moved to another location. Velcro® mounted
holders can not be bumped out of position like a magnet. A strip of loop material
can be mounted along the entire length of the shelf and label holders placed
anywhere along that length and moved freely.

6. Plastic Cinch Straps

Plastic Ties & Cinch Straps are available in 3", 8" and 14" lengths to affix label
holders, signs to objects and surfaces, and to connect several items together.

7. Plastic Snap Rings

¾" diameter Snap Rings are useful when you may wish to move the label holder
from time to time - they easily snap on and off bars on your racks or in and out of
holes in your bins.

8. Holes for Attachment

Grommet holes for screws, bolts, rivets, and other connectors are available in
many of our products including Grommet-Style Pouches, Job Ticket & Card Holders,
and Wire Rack Card Holders. Additionally, most signs can be specified with holes
for mounting where appropriate.

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Use Microsoft Excel to Print Your Product and Location Data
These instructions will enable you to easily set-up your data card page layout by using
our standard size data card templates or by creating your own card template. Click on this
Printing Data Cards link to go to the instructions page.

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Angled Sign Hanging Instructions     Read below or print a pdf sheet


1. Rotate open end of S-hook through hole until closed end (attached to chain)
touches the back side of the sign.
2. Crimp the open end to close the S.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the crimped ends are to the back of the sign.  Failure
to do so will crack the plastic and lead to possible falling.

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Dual Angled Sign Assembly Instructions     Read below or print a pdf sheet


Each sign has three section (sides) with only the top section having holes
1. Insert hanging clips (from bottom up) inot holes provided in top section.
2. Align other two sides with text upright.
3. Remove adhesive backings (liners) and press sentions firmly together.
4. Signs of 18" and longer may require edge stiffeners - slide onto top sign section

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End-of-Rack Sign Assembly Instructions     Read below or print a pdf sheet


Assembly instructions also apply for Three-View Angled Projection Wall Signs
1. Remove adhesive strip backing (liner) and align left and right sides.
2. Place signs together and press firmly along adhesive strip.

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Triangular & Cube Sign Assembly Instructions     Read below or print a pdf sheet


Due to their size, these signs are shipped flat and simple assembly is required.
Follow the same procedure for both trianglar and cube signs.
1. On a flat surface (desk, table), set one sign face (side) upright just as it will hang
to be read.  Remove the adhesive tape backing liner.
2. Set next sign face upright on its edge - make sure both faces have their
lettering facing out.  Be certain both faces are standing flat on the surface and
attach first face to second.
3. Repeat procedure for remaining faces to form a triangle or cube.  Sign should
rest flat on all sides when faced are attached correctly.
4. Insert S-hooks (at end of hanging chain) into the hole in each side.
5. Hang the sign from the overhead structure using additional chain, heavy duty
fishing line, etc.

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Sign Edge Stiffener Assembly Instructions     Read below or print a pdf sheet

Instructions - assembly of triangular, cube and large flat hanging signs

Stiffeners are to be placed on the top edge of triangular and cube signs, and on
the long side (generally 18" or longer) of flat signs.
1. Carefully pry open one end of the stiffener and insert the sign edge at one end.
Work the stiffener down onto the entire sign edge.
2. The stiffener should be nearly flush with the sign corner at both ends and not
extend beyond the sign end.  If the stiffener needs adjusting, remove and re-apply.

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