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First locate the studs. In construction, studs are placed 16" on center of a wall or 16" apart. Identify the location of one stud and then measure every 16" to find the others. In the really low tech days, finding the first stud was done by tapping around the wall until the sound changed, then banging a nail into the wall around the area until a stud was struck. This could mean a lot of unnecessary holes. These days there are electronic stud finders that make finding a wall stud a whole lot easier. Once the stud is found, mark the area with a pencil and do a test drill to assure that the stud is hit.
Make a template that will show exactly where to hang the shelves. Using the template and a pencil, mark on the wall where the shelf will be located. Use a level to help assure the shelf will be level. The template is designed to show exactly where the holes for the shelf brackets go. Tape the template directly to the wall and mark through the template using a pencil.