Introduction: How to Use Inkscape for Arduino Labels and Projects

A year ago I came across an article in Nuts and Volts Magazine about making professional looking panels for projects. The article is on line and explains it much better than I can, with much more detail. I urge you to read the excellent two part article. (two Google shortened URLs)

What this instructable is about is making pin labels for Arduino and projects. I have included a printable page (use Inkscape to print it) that will let you print pin labels for the Uno, mini and a Duimilanove clone from Mad Scientist as well as the AVR mega and tiny Chips, very useful for when you have an Arduino on a bread board.

The example page is written in Inkscape a free vector drawing program. You will need it to display and print the attached page. Get it here:

Once you see how the page works it should be easy to adapt it for how you want it to look or other chips and Arduinos.

Step 1: How to Use Inkscape for Arduino Labels and Projects

Inkscape is not a word processor like Word or a picture editor like Gimp or Photo Shop, it is a Vector drawing program similar to Coral Draw.

With Inkscape anything you draw or type on the page can be resized from unreadably tiny to the size of the page and it will print exactly the same size on the paper as the scale on the screen. It will look great no pixilated lines like you would get blowing up Word pages. The rulers around the edge of the page can be used to measure the size of your drawing exactly so it fits on your project or even the top of an integrated circuit chip.

You can easily move blocks of text and even single letters around on the page, turn them any way you like or re-size and color them. You can also do graphics like rectangles or even 3d looking boxes. There is a HUGE number of options and it can get very intimidating when you are getting started, but for making labels it is not that hard and almost all the options are not needed.

Your pages can be printed on a laser or ink jet printer on any kind of paper or even plastic see the articles from Nuts and Volts. I have found printing in black on the laser printer using colored paper looks great. If using an inkjet printer, be sure to use inkjet or photo paper or the ink may run, with the tiny letters this could make them unreadable.

Once you print the labels out and before you cut them out cover them with transparent tape or clear plastic of some kind to keep them clean. If you can find it clear contact paper works great for larger labels.

To attach tiny labels try a glue stick just run the label over the end of the glue stick and stick it down. You can move it slightly until it dries. Tweezers help a lot with small labels or if there is not much room to glue them down. For larger labels and project panels I use rubber cement.

Program set up:

I find using metric measurements – millimeters, much easier to use than the US measurements, inches, but whatever you are comfortable with. The program will probably come set up for the US measurements.

Change the paper size in “File” “Document Properties” IF you are using Metric measurements and US Paper (8.5 X 11 inches) set the paper to 8.5 X 11 and change the Custom size to 215.90 width X 279.40 Height. Unit’s = mm. This is only temporary next drawing it will default back to whatever it was.

To make the settings permanent go here: (another Google shortened URL)

For project panels and small things like ICs I find it is easier to draw a rectangle so the inside is the maximum size of the panel or space for the text, then it is easy to place the text.

If you get a solid filled square when you draw a rectangle or square then to get an “empty” rectangle click the rectangle or square tool right under the magnifying glass on the left side. (Most menus are content specific, in other words if you don’t have the right drawing, text tool highlighted then you may not see the options for that tool.) On the top menu click “Object” then “fill and stroke”. You should see an option box open on the right. Find the rectangle and select it by clicking the square rectangle you are going to change. In the option box, make sure the “Fill” tab is selected and click the “X” on the left (no fill). If you don’t do this the rectangle will be “filled” with whatever color is selected in the box (it is possible that this is what you want so keep it in mind). The “Stroke Style” tab will decide the size of the line the rectangle tool draws. And “Stroke Paint” the color of the line.

Step 2: How to Use Inkscape for Arduino Labels and Projects

When making vertical rows of text I find it best to just type a number then hit enter and then type the next number making a vertical list of pin numbers or whatever. This becomes one block of text that can be moved in one piece with the position tool (top of tool menu on left, an arrow. You can reposition or resize most anything on the page with the position tool).

When numbering pins like this you need to adjust the vertical line spacing. If using Metric for the measurements, select the text with the "Text" tool and find the small box on the lower tool bar marked with two A’s on top of each other, change it to 1.50 (this may or may not be the same if you are using inch measurements), this will match the text to pins on chips or headers. You can also change the space between characters horizontally as well as vertical spacing on the same line and tilt.

As above everything on the page is an object one period or a line of text or a square, if it is typed at one time it is one "thing" and can be moved as one piece, but you cant move multiple "things" at one time. If not sure what is part of what, click on it with the positioning tool and the group will be selected. When working with text it is sometimes better to type a line of characters like above and sometimes it is better to type each character one at a time then click the background again and type the next character if you are going to line up to uneven points or turn the character on its side.

Save often, as with anything like this it is easy to screw something up.

I think most laser and inkjet printers will print this correctly, but you might have to make changes to the vertical spacing to adjust the print.

Almost anything you want to know how to do is just a Google search away just make sure you use Inkscape in the search.

The label example pages on this page are sized for 8.5 X 11 Inch Paper it may print okay on other sizes.

I find more uses for Inkscape every time I use it. Take the time to learn the basics it is well worth the time.