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Tips on choosing labels and label makers

Label makers are invaluable tools to help you organize your home. While deciding on a suitable label maker for your needs, it helps to understand how to best utilize the features of these little appliances and their accessories.

Types of label makers

Label makers have evolved over the years. Models go from basic embossing types to Bluetooth-enhanced paper label makers. Here's how to know which one you need:

  • Handheld label maker: If you prefer having your label maker as portable as possible, go for the basic handheld model, which typically runs on battery power and/or an AC power adapter for desktop use. Slightly larger handheld versions have larger keyboards along with more features, such as templates and preview screens to make it easier to create labels. Some models have convenient carrying cases to keep accessories and tapes together while you're on the go.
  • Desktop label maker: Keep a heavier-duty machine on your desk. Look for a QWERTY keyboard to make labels fast and easy. Desktop models typically have larger keys and more memory to help you save previous label formats.
  • Smart label printer: Create regular paper labels using a smart printer that connects via USB to your PC or Mac. These little machines are ideal for printing out fast name badges and shipping labels.
  • Wireless label printer: Yes, there's an app for these little label printers that work from your mobile devices via a Bluetooth wireless connection.
  • Dual thermal label printer: If you need a turbo-powered label printer for your office's high-volume postage and shipping needs, opt for a dual-roll thermal model. It prints multiple labels at super fast speed. Thermal printers generate crystal-clear text, graphics and bar codes. You can save time by creating labels from text in programs like Word, Outlook, QuickBooks and Outlook Contacts, for example.

Types of labeling tape

Depending on the type of label maker you've chosen, you'll need either label tape rolls or cassettes/cartridges. Make sure you purchase the labels that fit your label maker. Read up on the width of the labels that your maker accepts. Rolls come in black for white lettering or white for black lettering. You can also have fun with colored tape rolls, but these might not necessarily be suitable or necessary for all projects.

  • Tape rolls: Rolls of embossing labeling tape are typically non-laminated for basic indoor use or laminated for extra durability and can stick to just about any surface when the backing is peeled off. If you want to label outdoor items, look for tape that won't fade under UV rays or become water damaged. You'll also want tape that remains firmly on surfaces despite hot and cold temperatures.
  • Tape cassettes/cartridges: For heavy-duty label makers, you may need cassettes or cartridges filled with label tape. Make sure you know which cassette or cartridge is compatible with your label maker. Cassettes/cartridges may be sold in value-added packs.
  • Fabric tape: If you sew or otherwise work with fabric, or you just need to label your children's clothing, consider a label maker that's compatible with labeling tape designed for ironing on fabric. Fabric label tape has powerful adhesives that can be easily ironed-on. The tape should stay in place wash after wash, even on seasonal and special-occasion clothing.

Types of labeling paper

Some types of label makers use adhesive paper to create labels, especially shipping, address and media labels. The smart label makers and Bluetooth-enabled makers usually use paper versus embossed tapes. However, there may be some small handheld label makers that accept paper label rolls or cassettes, as well.


While you're probably planning to use your label maker for a specific project, there are many other surprising ways to put these devices to use. Consider these nifty ways to use your label maker:

  • Fridge: Keep order inside your fridge by labeling bins and what goes inside of them with durable embossing labels.
  • Plants: Help yourself remember what herbs are planted in which container with embossed labels adhered to ice pop sticks that slide into your pots.
  • Closet: Label everything in your closet, from your boxes, bins, shelves and garment bags with embossed tape so you can keep track of which box your summer sandals have disappeared into.
  • Warnings: Label unlabeled jars, cans and canisters with embossed or paper tape so your family or guests won't confuse items like ammonia or vinegar or decaffeinated or caffeinated coffees.
  • Language: Help young kids read by labeling toys and more. Help yourself learn a new language by placing labels with words in another language on everyday items.
  • Pipes/wires: Put a durable, embossed label on wires so you can easily identify their purpose. This also works for pipes in your basement, and it helps to identify all the switches in your electrical box instead of relying on messy handwritten labels.