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How to automatically print shipping labels

By Krystina Martinez · August 11, 2021
print-shipping-labels primary img

In computer class, the first advanced thing we learned how to do was create address labels in a Microsoft Word document from a spreadsheet. It was tedious, but it felt like magic for people first learning about computers and using common work software. 

Luckily, the process has evolved since then. You can now automate your shipping label creation process and make things even easier. 

There are two methods we recommend to automate shipping labels (and if you use them both it makes the process even easier):

  1. Make shipping labels with Google Sheets and Avery

  2. Automatically add addresses to a spreadsheet using Zapier

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Make shipping labels with Google Sheets and Avery

Let's start with the simplest option: Making shipping labels using Google Sheets and Avery's free Design & Print software. If you have a spreadsheet with addresses, it can turn them into ready-to-print labels quickly.

A screenshot of the Avery Design & Print homepage, reading "Create, save and print for free" and with a blue button that reads "Start designing."

Go to Avery Design & Print and click Start designing. You'll be prompted to sign in to your Avery account or create one if you don't have one already. 

Once you're logged in, you can choose from a variety of Avery labels to get started. Once you've selected a label, you can also select a label template or design your own. 

A screenshot showing many different styles of labels you're able to print using Avery's tool.

After you've selected a template, click on Import Data Mail Merge located at the left-side menu. Then, click Start Import/Merge.

An orange rectangle highlighting a button that reads "Start Import/Merge."

You can upload a file from your desktop but for this tutorial, we want to use a Google Sheet. Click on the Google Drive tab, then click Login with Google and choose the Google account you'd like to use. 

A screenshot of the Avery tool interface with an orange box around the button for "Google Drive."

Once you've connected your account, you'll see the latest Google Sheets files in your Drive account. Select the one you'd like to use. 

A screenshot of the Avery interface showing how to select a Google Sheet from a collection of them. In this example we are selecting "Winston's mailing addresses."

Set up your labels

Now you can select which rows and columns you'd like to use. This is helpful if you use the same spreadsheet to print all of your labels. By default, everything is selected. If you've labeled your spreadsheet columns, make sure you deselect your column labels. Once you've made your selections, click Next.

A screenshot showing how to choose fields. There are checkboxes to allow you to select specific columns and rows so that you only print what is needed.

Next, you'll need to select the order in which you want your fields to appear on your label by either double-clicking or dragging and dropping your fields into the placeholder label. After you've completed your merge, this will be the order in which your address information will appear on each label. When you're done, click Next. 

The Avery interface allows you to drag and drop or click to insert fields in the correct order, like name, address, city, state, or ZIP code.

If everything looks good, click Finish to complete your mail merge. 

A screenshot of the Avery system showing the layout of the labels and the "Finish" button.

If you'd like to change the appearance, you can play with the formatting options in the menu on the left side or you can adjust the text box within the label to preview.

When you're happy with how your labels look, click the Preview & Print button in the bottom-right corner of the screen. 

You'll see a preview image of how your labels will appear on each sheet. Depending on the template you use, you can choose to print the labels yourself or send them to Avery to ship to you for a fee.

Automatically add addresses to a spreadsheet

Collecting addresses in a spreadsheet is no one's idea of fun. You can automate this thankless task with Zapier. Anytime you get a new order in your eCommerce shop, save a new contact in your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), or anything else where you need to ship or mail something, Zapier can automatically add the address to your spreadsheet. 

You'll need a Zapier account to use the workflows in this piece. If you don't have an account yet, it's free to get started.

Before you begin

If you don't already have a spreadsheet with addresses, create one in Google Sheets. Make sure your columns are labeled so the Zap will work correctly. 

Option 1: Get started quickly with a Zap template

Click the button below—or near any of the Zap templates at the end of this article—and you'll be ready to create your Zap. 

Add updated Google Contacts to Google Sheets spreadsheets

Add updated Google Contacts to Google Sheets spreadsheets
  • Google Contacts logo
  • Google Sheets logo
Google Contacts + Google Sheets

Here's how it works: 

  1. Click on the button to get started. 

  2. Connect your Google Contacts and Google Sheets accounts.

  3. Select the spreadsheet you'd like to use.

  4. Select the spreadsheet columns you'd like to use.

  5. Select the Google Contact information you want to include in your selected spreadsheet columns.

  6. Test your workflow and turn it on. 

Option 2: Create your own Zap

If you'd like more control over information in your Zap or would like to add additional actions such as filters, you can click here to create a new Zap from scratch. We'll be using Google Contacts and Google Sheets for this tutorial, but this walk-through will be similar to most apps.

Note: The kinds of triggers that are available vary depending on the app you want to connect. Since we're using Google Contacts, we're using a trigger for a new contact being added. If you're running an eCommerce site, it could be a new paid order or if you're collecting information in a CRM, it could be a new lead or opportunity.

Here's how to set it up: 

  1. Log in to Zapier and click on Make a Zap to start from scratch. (If you don't have a Zapier account, it's free to start.)

  2. Connect the app you'd like to pull your addresses from to tell Zapier where to look for a new address. 

  3. Connect and customize your spreadsheet so Zapier knows where to store the new addresses. 

  4. Test your Zap, then turn it on!

Connect the app that stores your addresses

Log in to Zapier and click on Make a Zap to be directed to Zapier's editor, where you can create automated workflows. Choose your Google account from the dropdown menu. If you've never connected it to Zapier, click + Connect a new account to give Zapier permission to access your Google account. 

Setting up the trigger step of your Zap. Select Google Contacts New or Updated Contact and then connect and choose your account.

When you're done, click Continue. 

For each app you connect, Zapier will ask for a general set of permissions which allows you to be flexible with your Zaps. The only actions Zapier takes on your app accounts are those a given Zap needs to accomplish what you've set up.

Now we need to test our trigger. Zapier will look for a recent contact in your Google Contacts to make sure that the right account is connected. Click on Test trigger.

You'll see this success message if Zapier finds a contact, along with test information. We'll use this information to customize our Zap further. Click Continue.

The success message reads "We found a contact!" Then there is sample data, which relates to the contact found. At the bottom is a blue button that reads "Continue."

Connect and customize your spreadsheet app

The action is the event a Zap performs after it is triggered. In this example, we want our Zap to create a new row in our Google Sheet. Click Continue. Choose Google Sheets as your App and Create Spreadsheet Row as your Action Event.

A screenshot of the action step in your Zap, showing Create Spreadsheet Row in Google Sheets, with Google Sheets selected as the app, and a blue Continue button.

Next, select your Google Sheets account from the dropdown menu. If you've never connected Google Sheets to Zapier before, click on + Connect a new account and follow the prompts to give Zapier access.

Selecting your Google Sheets account from the dropdown menu in your Zap.

When you're done, click Continue. 

Now, you need to tell Zapier which spreadsheet you want your addresses added to. Select the specific Drive, Spreadsheet, and specific Worksheet from the dropdown menus.

Selecting your spreadsheet in the Zapier editor.

Once you've made your selections, the editor will automatically expand to include your named spreadsheet columns as fields.

A screenshot of the Google Sheets step in Zapier showing that labeled column names become the field names in your Zap.

Next, you need to tell Zapier which information from Google Contacts you want and where you'd like it to go in your spreadsheet. We call this process field mapping.

Learn more about field mapping in our Zapier quick-start guide.

Click on an empty field indicated by Enter text or insert data. A dropdown menu will appear with information from Google Contacts. Then, select the corresponding information from Google Contacts you want to add to each field. 

A gif showing how to map fields in the Zapier editor. When you click in an empty input field, you get a dropdown menu of address information you can select from your Google Contacts test data.

Think of this as multiple choice. You can choose one, multiple, or no data options from Google Contacts—unless a field is labeled "required." For example, we added the Name Last input field from Google Contacts so we'd have both first and last names in our spreadsheet.

Detail of mapped fields showing two data points in the first box for first and last names, and a single data point in the second box for address.

When you map a piece of data—such as an address—what you'll see in the editor is a placeholder. Once your Zap is turned on, real data from your apps will be used when your Zap runs.

Once you've finished mapping how Zapier should add your Google Contact information to your spreadsheet, click Continue.

Test your Zap and turn it on

Now it's time to test our Zap. Zapier will create a new row in Google Sheets with the information we mapped in the previous step. You can skip this test if you'd like by clicking on Skip Test in the top right corner, but we recommend testing this step in case something looks wrong in your spreadsheet. Click any of the testing buttons to continue.

If your test was successful, you'll see a success message like this:

The successful test alert in Zapier reading "Test was successful!" and "A spreadsheet row was sent to Google Sheets about 40 seconds ago."

Check your spreadsheet to make sure everything looks correct. 

A screenshot of a spreadsheet showing an address line added for the same information that we saw in our test.

If something looks off, you can go back to the previous steps to change how your Google Contact fields are mapped, and then re-test. 

Once you're happy with it, don't forget to turn on your Zap.  Every time a new contact is added to Google Contacts (or any other app you use as a trigger), Zapier will automatically copy it to a spreadsheet. 

When you're ready to print shipping labels, run through Avery Share & Print like before. 

After you've made your labels, don't forget to delete your old addresses from your spreadsheet so you're not reprinting old information each time.

After you've deleted old rows in your spreadsheet, Zapier will start over and add a new order or contact as the first address in your spreadsheet.

Ready to automate your own labels? Here are some Zaps—what we call our automatic workflows—to help you get started adding addresses to your spreadsheet automatically.

The shipping process doesn't need to be a hassle. Automation can help you with administrative tasks like creating shipping labels so you can focus on getting your products out to your customers.

Check out more ways automation can help your eCommerce store:

This article was originally published in March 2018 by Matthew Guay and updated in March and August 2021 by Krystina Martinez.

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