Monday, September 29, 2014

78 Filing Cabinet Organization

Although it is basically unavoidable, I love a clutter free workspace.  As someone who is easily distracted, having piles of papers and accessories makes me twitchy.  So yeah, my desk typically looks pretty snazzy.... the secret lies within the nearby drawers!


As in my dirty little secret.  It is like I basically use my arm to swoop my clutter right into the drawers of my filing cabinet tucked below my desk.


See?!


I actually really love the filing cabinet itself... I purchased it last year at CB2.  After bringing home two different Goodwill options to makeover, I wasn't finding that they were offing the types of storage that I was after, and they were not smooth to open and close.  When I was window shopping at CB2, the filing cabinet caught my eye and landed right into the trunk of my car.  It was a winner!

A winner at concealing my clutter in a very unorganized way.  Which was totally my fault.  I just have not taken the time to give this beauty the attention she deserves.  Until today.

A few weeks ago quarterly taxes were due and I searched high and low for those statement stubs.  I looked in binders, planners, and through the catch-all files that lived in this filing cabinet.  After over an hour of searching and having a small meltdown, I found just what I needed.  And moved the filing cabinet clean-out high on my priority list.

Here is what I started out with.


The top drawer held random files and a lot of clutter.  The second drawer did the same.  The third drawer was the start to my file organization from many months ago, however, because nothing ever was truly sorted or labeled, every last paper that I filed landed in a big "to file" file in the back of the drawer.  Nice.

This was NOT a quick process.  I had a lot of papers to go through as well as clutter to sort down and organize.  Thank you Netflix, you saved the day once again.

As always, I emptied out every last drawer to see what I was working with and to just go big or go home.


I started with the fun accessory drawer stuff, I would rather organize items than boring papers any day...  Knowing I had a lot of small items that needed to be corralled within the top two drawers, I hunted down box lids, DIY paper boxes, jewelry boxes, empty note card boxes, etc... anything that could act as a drawer divider.


I purged down items that no longer needed to be in the drawer, put other items back where they truly belonged and the rest ended up nice and neat in the file cabinet drawers.  I think I just might leave this one open all day, every day....


And drawer number two:


Not earth shattering stuff but FAR better nonetheless!

And then it happened.  I sorted and sorted and sorted papers some more.  Blah.  Why can't bank statements be printed on pretty pink paper and why aren't life insurance documents done with rainbow borders of happiness?  Someone make that happen m'kay?


I blurred out the documents, but you can still take a peek at the color coding system I used.  I purchased file folders from The Container Store in three colors, blue, pink and green.  I used pink for my business files {of course}, blue for personal files and green for financial/important files.

I already had hanging folders inside of the cabinet which came with tabbed labels {these from Amazon}.  I prefer labeling the hanging folder over the individual folders because it stands up higher and is easier to read.  The hanging files were Pendaflex brand and a simple Google search brought up a label template for me to download into Microsoft Word to edit.  I printed the labels using matching colors to the file folders.  Pretty neat how that works!


Once cut down to size, they fit perfectly into the plastic label holders.


I use my business files much more frequently than our personal files {many of our personal statements end up in our budget binder}, so I placed them within the filing cabinet accordingly.


Once the hanging files were labeled, I popped all of the individual files inside and filled up the drawer.


I really didn't think it would be possible, but I got a little giddy inside about how the organized files turned out.  Totally worth the time it took to touch every last piece of paper.

The outside of the cabinet received a small splash of color with some more printed labels popped into my favorite adhesive label holders.


And a final celebratory after photo.  Be still my happy heart!


Now that it is done, I have a feeling it will increase the amount of grinning I am doing while working at my desk.  And when I need to find next quarter's tax filing voucher! 

Have you recently tackled something you have been dreading for a long period of time?  Was it as bad as you thought it would  be?

78 comments:

  1. Haha the beginning reminded me of Monica's secret closet in Friends. You did a great job !!

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    1. Haha! Absolutely! Behind every clean room or surface is a Monica closet or drawer ;)

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  2. Hey Jen! As usual, you make a simple organization project look SO sophisticated - love it! I had a quick question that maybe you could possibly answer in your up-coming/on-going "behind the blog" series. If I recall correctly, your studio is downstairs in a windowless room, right? How do your photos always looks so bright and fresh like there is natural light streaming in from all sides? Your photos are as crisp as the projects you're shooting and I'd love to know your secret!

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    1. Thank you Megan! I will definitely be chatting about how I shoot in a windowless room. Thank you so much!!

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  3. I'm dying to buy a filing cabinet. I have plastic totes that file folders are in and they are semi organized. It doesn't help that lately I have just been dumping paperwork in the top on the totes instead of filing nicely. I think i'll look at buying a cabinet.

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  4. This reminds me that I totally have to start organizing my filing cabinet. My husband went through it the other day and was like, "WHAT KIND OF MAD ORGANIZING DO YOU HAVE GOING ON?" because there was no rhyme or reason.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee

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    1. Funny! Mine wouldn't even attempt to look in ours previously so at least yours is making the effort ;)

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  5. ahhhhh what a happy place now! I just recently tackled my own office files which were 5 YEARS (that included a marriage, a move, two vehicles changes, and three children born) that had been frazzling my brain for far too long and cost me so much stress and money due to late fees and other oversights. Mine isn't as pretty but I did use a color system and labeled the hanging files too! When it was all done I almost couldn't see the usual crumbs, clothes, dishes and other clutter because in my head I was still picturing the fresh loveliness that is my ready-to-work, easy-to-find, files. 5 months and going strong! congrats on your own sigh of relief ;)

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    1. Oh my goodness, congratulations Hannah! Your comment is such a great testimonial to the power of getting a project done. So excited for you and I totally know that amazing feeling you felt when it was all said and done. Also proof that the return on your time investment is invaluable. Way to go! xoxo!

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  6. Life saver! I just scored a four drawer filing cabinet from work that I plan to give a make-over to for our office. I am so sick of looking at those ugly accordion files that are crowding the top cupboard in our wardrobe. Suddenly filing doesn't seem so awful!

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    1. Agree! We outgrew our file box and I am actually surprised how much more convenient this had been. :). Best of luck with your filing!

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  7. I get giddy about this kind of stuff all the time. You've inspired me to "spruce up" the way my files look. They are organized, but a little color and pizzazz wouldn't hurt:) Love the idea of downloading the label template.

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    1. Whatever makes the filing chore more enjoyable right? :) Color is always a great solution!

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  8. Ahhhhh! You have totally motivated me and I am going to buy a filing cabinet. Thanks for sharing and I will be Pinning this for my friends. xx

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  9. Great post! Exactly what I needed to read. I have office supplies everywhere and a plastic tote that I use and like others I have totally gotten into the bad habit of putting papers that need to be filed or I'm not sure what to do with right on top in a heaping mess. This is going to be my next project to tackle! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

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  10. Amazing Jen! so inspiring! recently I have started to organize my whole life since after having a baby and getting back to work I had no time for doing anything. Then I came across your blog and I must say it's so very pleasant and inspiring for me. Now I go through project by project every day and organize and clean one part of the house (small steps) and I already feel great about it. Thanks for sharing your beautiful stories and thoughts with us. cheers,:)

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    1. That is beautiful to hear Sarayan! I love that you are doing it in bite size bits and loving the results! I am celebrating with you from here!

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    2. you are such a doll taking time to reply each of us! thanks to YOU for being so inspiring! :)

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  11. Would you be able to share what some of your specific file labels are? I am always at a loss of what to group together and what to call these groups to make my life easier.

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    1. I started by making like piles on the colored folders and just labeled each file by summarizing the contents. I keep it very generic and simple so my family can use it also. Some examples are: Life Insurance, Vet Records, Employment Contracts, Estate Planning, etc... Short and sweet is the name of the filing game! :)

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  12. It looks great! I found that I hated filing and couldn't stand that I had so much paper. So now I scan the papers into the computer and store them in files there. I find it easier to bring up what I want and I now don't have a drawer full of boring paper, which makes room for something much more fun!

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    1. Hi Kelly! We do something similar with many of our docs but still keep the hard copy of certain types as well (mostly for tax purposes). We have also gone paperless with many companies which has reduced a lot of our filing as well. I agree it is all about finding a process that is quick and easy to manage. xoxo!

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  13. Funny you posted about filing cabinets today. I was looking at my old brown one thinking about what I could do to make it cute and where to put it! On a side note, I must know about your keyboard! Was that a DIY or a purchased key cover??? I love it!

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    1. Hi Maggie! They are removable stickers found here: http://kidecals.com/shop/products/roses-floral-keycal-set/. xoxo!

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  14. I've been wanting to do this at home with my file cabinet but I just didnt know where to begin and thanks to you JEN I now see the light at the end of the tunnel!

    Your file cabinet looks amazing!

    Thank's a bunch for your tips! xoxo

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  15. Last month I had to tackle a deep drawer that had random papers from the last 2 years. It was as bad as I expected! But I tend to get sentimentally attached to things and letting them get old there released them of significance. I was able to throw most of them to the recycling bin and then I filed / sorted the rest of the contents :)

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    1. High five Estrella! I can only imagine the weight that was lifted when all was said and done! xoxo!

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  16. Congrats, it looks great! I'm curious why you use the regular file folders inside of the hanging files? Do you have multiple files within each hanging file?

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    1. Occasionally I will place other similar items or folders in the hanging file as well, and sometimes I prefer to take out the folder to take with me in my tote and those hanging folders aren't very portable friendly. It was also how we always filed in corporate world and just stuck with me. :)

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  17. I love your file cabinet!!! So pretty and love the adhesive labels. I re-did our files a year ago ish when we got married, but I made the mistake of color coding the files rather than the tabs. The tabs make so much more sense in the long run- easier to maintain, and are cheaper to do. oh well it is working for now.

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  18. Very nice!!
    What are the green, light blue, dark blue and pink bumpy things on the left side in the top drawer?

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    1. They are coasters, must protect my recent stain/wax job. :)

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  19. Hi Jen,
    Love your blog! :) Congratulations on your anniversary!!
    Quick question: What "printer" did you use to print white wording on your labels?? I've never seen that.
    Thanks,Debi

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    1. Hi Debi! From what I understand, most printers should be able to print with white text. They don't use a white ink, they just don't print on that portion of the paper where the font is, because the paper is already white. Hope that makes sense, I would give it a whirl. :)

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  20. You really do have the midas touch! I can't believe you've been able to make a filing cabinet look so sparkly and pretty.

    Yep, you've found the "monica closet" in my house! lol! I've tried a few times to better organize it, with not much success. The problem I have is knowing which items need to be kept, for how long, etc, Do you have any good tips/guidelines for that?

    I love how you've color coded things for personal vs. business vs. financial....makes so much sense! This post really inspires me to get serious about finally, truly organizing our filing cabinet (and purge items I'm certain we no longer need!).

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    1. Thank you so much! Knowing "what" and "how long" is really a personal thing. I typically ask my self why I would need to hold on to something {typically it is for proof of identification, proof of insurance, to reference a specific policy, or for tax reasons}, and also consider how frequently I have ever gone back and referenced a specific type of document in the past. I also consider if I can just scan it to our external or if it is something that needs to remain in a paper format. I posted this quite a few years ago now, but it also had some helpful resources in regards to your question: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2011/01/january-challenge-project-paper-step-1.html

      xoxo!

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  21. LOVE THIS! I'm so glad you posted about this now, because I'm ready to revamp my own file system.

    I've looked at the Freedom Filer system, but I don't think it's a good fit for me...and yet, I loved the idea of color coded files. This is exactly the solution I was looking for. Woohoo! :)

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  22. Love this post :) I'm glad you mentioned that a cluttered work space can be unavoidable (makes me feel better haha) but some times all you need are these gorgeous images for some inspiration.

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  23. This looks great! I just bought the stuff to do a filing cabinet, but yours is so much nicer. Who is CB2? Thanks.

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    1. CB2 is a store which is a branch of Crate & Barrel. I linked to them within my post. :)

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  24. I am still putting mine off... I have culled papers until I "only" have about FIVE huge piles or stacks to keep going through and sorting! My plan includes creating a notebook / binder for a couple of the categories (health/doctor info + finances) but the rest will need a file drawer to be set up.

    Even though I'm not that close yet, this is very inspirational, thank you! I need to focus on the well-organized finish line. Maybe I can make a big push again this weekend.

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  25. Looks awesome! I really need to organize our file cabinet, but papers are so boring, so I just continue to grow random piles all over the house. Having everything organized would make tax time so much easier. I hope to do this before we move the office downstairs, so I don't have to move all the piles.

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  26. Hi! I love it! It's inspired me to dig into my filing cabinet and organise the chaos. Can you tell me where you got the calendar stickers from that's in one of your photos? They look like just what I need! Thanks!

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    1. Hello! I found them on Amazon and The Container Store. :)

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  27. One more question, if I may... What font did you use for the word "organization" in the title photo? It's a lovely cursive.

    Thank you for being so sweet to answer our questions! I always appreciate reading your answers to comments. :)

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  28. Yet another beautiful blog just arrived at right time as always....I absolutely love your blogs. They are my absolutely favourite...

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  29. I am WAY more likely to keep a system going if it is pretty...love what you did with your files!

    ~Sarah

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  30. GREAT post! I am a genealogist, and totally embarassed to admit that my genie files and photos are organized and filed, unlike my kids' art, schoolwork and family photos. I DREADED going through the kids' stuff because time has flown since they were born, and looking at their stuff, to me, was going to stir all that up again. So, over the summer, I approached the mounds (each kid (4) has a lidded tote), I did so with my normally-organized-genealogy eye. I forced myself to think of it as an organization project, not how fast they grew up project. I actually enjoyed the process, and they got a kick out of looking at all their art and schoolwork. It is such a relief to have all that done! Sitting at my desk, I knew that floor-to-ceiling stack was either going to get done or I'd have to hang a curtain to hide it! Now on to do the same in my craft dungeon (in the basement - that's what we call it!) Thanks so much for sharing!

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  31. Hi Jen! Have you figured out replacement label holders now that Staples has phased out that line? I went today and they said there's limited Martha Stewart stuff online still but it's going away :-(

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    1. Some craft stores have bookplates that can be attached to things with brads, double sided tape, hot glue, etc... They are typically located in the scrapbooking department and also can be painted. I typically just google search for "bookplates" and "label holders" to search for alternatives online as well. Makes me so sad when products I love become discontinued. xoxo!

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  32. I should add that I love your posts! You give me the extra motivation to buckle down and get organized! I love your style and the clean crisp colors in your home. Ironically not at all like my home...so I'm a little confused on that myself ;-)

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  33. Wow. I mean, WOW. You are so awesome. I have got to get this filing together. We are so disorganized in that area. And, I have no idea why... You would think my OCD-ness would be screaming 24/7... Very pretty! Very inspiring!

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  34. Where did you get the ruler from ? Random, I know!! But looking for a cute one.

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    1. Hi Lindsay! The ruler is Poppin. They have a website but they also sell supplies at Staples. xoxo!

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  35. Looks great! Was wondering if you could possibly tell me the font you use on the labels for the drawers? Thanks :)

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  36. Jen do you use binders for any filing? You don't seem to have many folders!

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    1. Hi Steph! We do store current statements and billing items within our budget binder, which you can see here: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2013/01/our-budget-binder.html

      xoxo!

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  37. I may be a little late on reading this post as I just started following along, but I LOVE THIS. This makes my heart happy for you! It looks great! Im tackling my office disaster this year and this gave me so much inspiration and motivation to get started! Great post and finished product!

    Lauren Baxter
    LB Designs
    Xx

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  38. Have you seen the new mint color filing cabinet they came out with, I think that is a great pop of color to also add to a home office :)

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  39. LOL I recently redid my file cabinets and was also over the moon when they were done so I feel your joy! But I would love to paint the actual cabinets to add a little more crazy love. :/

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  40. I LOVE those stickers you have on your key board! Where can I get my own? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Liz,
      They are removable stickers found here: http://kidecals.com/shop/products/roses-floral-keycal-set/. xoxo!

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  41. Hi I was wondering where you purchased your ruler?

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    1. Hello,
      The ruler is Poppin. They have a website but they also sell supplies at Staples. xoxo!

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  42. Hey Jennifer,
    I have been saving this post for months and am now ready to use it. I have used all of your recommendations but I just stuck. I just filled in my labels for my Pendaflex tabs and am wanting to print them out in various colors like you did, to create some sort of organization. Right now I am just printing them on white cardstock. It looks like you might have used some sort of colored ink. Any suggestions?

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    1. Hello,

      That is correct, I filled the template with different colors within the editable program and printed them with my color printer onto white paper.

      Best of luck!
      Jen

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  43. Hi Jen,

    For the inside of your file folders, do you punch holes and use prongs? From what I can see in the picture, it doesn't look like it. I punch holes in my paperwork and file folders (For some of the file folders, I have paperwork on the left and right). But, sometimes it looks a little messy, especially if the holes are punched a little off and the paperwork sticks out a little.

    Aloha,
    Lynn

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    1. Hi Lynn,

      I do not punch our documents, I am not sure I am disciplined enough to add extra steps. I don't seem to have any trouble locating previous documents by just filing them loosely.

      xo!

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  44. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I don't know if I'm disciplined (lol), but it is extra work to punch the holes .

    Maybe I should try just filing them loosely too (I'm a little clumsy though sometimes, so I can just see myself dropping the file & having all the papers fall out & get all mixed up - Ha, Ha, Ha)!

    Aloha,
    Lynn

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  45. Haha! I LOVE this post! I am based in London and today I did my annual tax return. I started preparing everything last night (after procrastinating for weeks) and I knew it was going to make me feel awful. I have tried for a year to get all my papers into one small binder, which is half broken. And filing cabinets are not that gorgeous. BUT the way you made yours look, and how you are asking about better colours on bank statements really made me laugh! You get it! So thank you for making me feel like I am not alone in this sea of paperwork! I am starting my research now and will get a filing cabinet TODAY.

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  46. sooo i'm pretty sure you're my organizing soul mate;) i love it!! and now i'm off to tackle my own "dirty little secret drawer!" thanks for the inspiration:)

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  47. What font settings did you use for your word label template?

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    1. If I recall I used Raleway font in all caps. :)

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