Labels - Where do I Begin?

It is not an easy task to decide what labels you need. There are many things to consider. However, there are several questions that must be answered before you can make a decision. We are providing you with a worksheet here to help you determine the type of labels you might need. You must remember however, that there are many variations and this guide is by no means an absolute answer. An additional resource is a comprehensive guide provided by Lexmark. You can download it here.

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Step One - Quantity

Believe it or not, the quantity of labels is the first step in determining the type of label you will need.

  • Low quantity - up to 100 labels a week
  • Moderate quantity - up to 500 labels a week
  • High quantity - up to 1000 labels a week
  • Massive quantity - 1500 labels and up per week

Step Two - Size

How many sizes of labels do you need?

  • One size - example: product labels only.
  • Two sizes - example: product labels and shelf labels.
  • Three sizes - example: product labels, shelf labels, case labels.
  • Four or more sizes: example: product labels, shelf labels, case labels, shipping labels, RMA labels, serial number labels, pallet labels, etc.

Step Three - Label Application

What will the labels be applied to?

  • General merchandise/products such as computer components, cardboard boxes, etc
  • Food products
  • Containers containing chemicals (drums, bottles).
  • Metal, glass or wood.

Step Four - Environment

What types of environments will the label be exposed to?

  • Always indoors
  • Outdoors for prolong periods of time
  • Exposed to chemicals
  • Freezer

Step Five - Adhesive

What types of adhesive will the label to have?

  • Permanent
  • Temporary
  • Piggy back (one part of the label is removable while the other one stays on the product.)
  • Freezer
  • Removable
  • Marine - label will be shipped on ships and need to withstand salt water.

Each one of these steps and the answers to the questions represent a whole range of possible answers. Here are some guidelines:

  • For low to medium quantity of labels production and one or two small sizes (less than 4" wide) you can choose either Laser Labels or Direct Thermal Labels. The choice will depend on your current printers and the exact type of label application you are using.
  • If your application requires freezer, food or chemical labels you may need a different type of label, which in turn will determine what kind of printer you can choose.
  • The size of your labels will be a major determining factor in choosing your printer. Based on the printer that you select, you will need to select the appropriate labels for that particular printer.This is very important! We have seen many companies spending thousands of dollars on label stock and printers that do not work well together.
  • For high quantity label production we normally recommend Thermal, unless the size of the labels exceeds 6" wide. In the case of larger size labels we usually recommend an industrial laser label printer. again, this is not a rule. Many times the answer is exactly the opposite, depending on the actual application and circumstances.
  • Removable
  • Marine - label will be shipped on ships and need to withstand salt water.