DIY File Labels

I am a bit of a fiend for organisation and my files are the pinnacle of this – all or utility bills, bank statements, insurance documents, etc are all arranged in matching grey files with neat little dividers – when Ed and I first moved in together I insisted on filing the last five years of his bank statements, by date order into a matching grey file, as just the thought of them all thrown in a box at the bottom of his wardrobe made me feel uneasy! Even our household appliance have their own file, where all the instruction manuals are filed by room.

Over the years the number of files has grown, so remembering what is in them has become more and more difficult. For a while each one had a post-it note on it noting the contents, however as you can see it looked awful and did not fit with our decor or my need to be organised, so I embarked on a little DIY.

DIY file labels - Our files with their very tatty post-it note labels

Our files with their very tatty post-it note labels

The first step was to order some metal label holders. I really struggled to find any that were dispatched from the UK and in the end I went for some from Amazon, which shipped from South Korea. The ones I purchased can be found here. They are quite a thin folded metal and whilst they are fine for the job, they do seem quite pricey, they have also gone up a bit since I ordered them, so it may be worth looking on eBay or Amazon for some cheaper alternatives.

DIY file labels - Metal label holders from Amazon

Metal label holders from Amazon

The label holders did come with some small screws, however I wanted to make the job as simple as possible. So rather than use the screws I added thin strips of double sided tape to the back of all the holders.

DIY file labels - Double sided tape on the back of each label holder

Double sided tape on the back of each label holder

I then made up a simple card template. To do this I just measured the height of where I wanted the bottom of the label holder to be and cut a piece of card to that height.. This meant with the files still on the shelves, I could just place the template on the shelf in front of the file and align the bottom of the label holder with it.

DIY file labels - My template to position each label holder

My template to position each label holder

I then peeled the paper off the double sided tape, which I had already stuck to the label holder and stuck it into place, using my template. I also marked a centre line on the template to help me align the label holder horizontally, although as it was only slightly smaller than the spine of the file that was much simpler to do by eye.

DIY file labels - First label holder stuck in place

First label holder stuck in place

Once I had stuck all the holders in place, they then needed labels. I measured the size of the window in the holder and added 10mm to both the width and height to account for the 5mm metal frame to each edge on the holder. For reference my label holders were a total of 58 wide and 24mm high and the labels needed to be 44.5x18mm. I then set up and InDesign document with a page size of 44.5x18mm and created a page per label, using a traditional typewrite style font, aptly named ‘American typewriter’.

DIY file labels - Printed and ready to be cut out

Printed and ready to be cut out

Once I had created all the labels I printed each label to one PDF document, making sure to include crop marks. I then printed them directly from the PDF reader, to save paper I printed 16 per sheet and made sure they were printed at ‘actual size’ rather than ‘to fit’ so that the size of the label was maintained.

DIY file labels with metal label holders and home printed labels

All finished!

I then cut them out using a cutting edge and scalpel (the crop marks made this super quick and easy) and slipped them into the label holders. And that was it! The best part about this project was that I didn’t need to take the files off the shelves and if I ever need to re-name the files I can just slip the labels out and make new ones using the same template.

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