Our list of the FOUR things you need to design and print your own self adhesive labels.
The Four Things You Need
Obviously, if you want to design and print your own sticky labels you will need…
- Some suitable sticky labels – to print on!
- Some suitable software – to design your labels!
- A suitable label template – to indicate where you need to position your designs so they print onto your labels!
- A suitable printer – to print your labels!
You may have noticed that we’ve used the word “suitable” quite a lot. You need to use the right labels, software, template, and printer to successfully design and print your own sticky labels. But what makes labels, software, templates, and printers “suitable”? Read on to find out!
Most people have access to a standard desktop printer. You therefore need to source sticky labels on A4 sheets. You also need to choose printer labels that are suitable for your particular type of printer – laser or inkjet.
At Label Planet, we list printer compatibility on our range pages, product pages, information pages, and product packaging.
Laser labels are designed for LASER printers. Laser printers use heat and pressure to bond a dry powder called “toner” onto surfaces. This means laser labels need to have a smooth, even surface to ensure a successful bond. Paper laser labels also contain more moisture; this helps to prevent the paper being damaged by the heat produced within a laser printer. In fact, most laser labels also have great heat resistance for this very reason.
Inkjet labels are designed for INKJET printers. Inkjet printers disperse inks onto surfaces, where they are slightly absorbed into the surface before drying in place. To ensure that the inks dry efficiently, and in the correct position, inkjet labels will therefore have a slightly absorbent surface.
Please note: some self adhesive labels are made with materials that suit BOTH printing process.
Next, you need to source suitable software – software that is suitable for DESIGN-based tasks, such as designing sticky labels. Many applications and software can be used for this purpose. All you really need are design tools and layout tools (so you can position each design in line with a blank label).
The most suitable software is label design software. Unfortunately, this tends to be pretty specialised (and expensive) software that you are unlikely to already have on your computer / device.
General design software can be a useful option. A lot of design software includes design tools for specific kinds of documents and media – including self adhesive labels. It also provides plenty of design tools and layout tools that offer great control and accuracy for positioning your designs. However, design software can be more expensive (free options are available) and tends to be more complicated to use. If you’ve never used a design package before, it may prove to be too time consuming to learn how to go about adding your designs.
In our experience, most people use Microsoft Word (or similar word processors). Word processors are designed to insert, edit, and arrange text. However, they may also include a limited set of design tools and, as in Microsoft Word, LABEL design tools. While Word certainly doesn’t offer complex design tools nor the greatest level of precision and control, it can create relatively high quality label designs AND most people have enough experience with Word to print a set of labels quickly and easily enough.
We recommend taking a look at your existing software to see if you already have something suitable. Choose software that provides good design tools and ease of use. If you don’t have suitable software available, you will need to source something appropriate.
A label template provides the layout of your self adhesive labels. For A4 labels, they show the position of each blank label on an A4 sheet. Your label template should be compatible with your sticky labels – i.e. it should show the same label size and layout.
Label templates can be built-in or standalone. Built-in label templates are part of your software. For example, Word contains various sets of label templates, which can be accessed by clicking on the Mailings tab and selecting Labels. Standalone label templates are individual files, which you need to open using your software. At Label Planet we supply standalone Word and PDF label templates for all of our label sizes.
You also need to make sure that your template is compatible with your software. The file must be in a file format that your software can open and edit (make changes to). For example, we supply Word templates and PDF templates. Our Word templates are compatible with any word processing software that can edit the .docx file format – this includes Microsoft Word, Word For Mac, and Pages. Our PDF templates are compatible with any design software that can edit the .pdf file format – this includes InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.
Please note: PDF readers will OPEN a PDF template but won’t allow you to make any changes (e.g. to add your design). To EDIT a PDF template, you will need to use a graphics package.
As we’ve mentioned, you need to print laser labels with laser printers and inkjet labels with inkjet printers – but what else makes a printer “suitable” for printing self adhesive labels?
Perhaps the most important factor is whether your printer was designed for printing self adhesive labels. Sheet labels are very different to sheets of paper. They require careful handling and a more specific printing process to get high quality print results. Printers designed for printing A4 labels have additional specifications and settings to perform this function.
Check the specification section of your printer’s manual. If adhesive labels are listed as one of the types of print media that your printer can handle then you should be good to go!
Ideally, you need a printer with a media bypass tray. This is a secondary tray located just above or below the main paper tray. It processes thicker media (like sticky labels) and offers a straighter path through the printer (by bypassing at least one set of rollers – reducing the risk of sheets rotating as they pass through).
Other things to look out for are special print settings, such as “edge-to-edge” or “borderless” printing, which allows you to print the full area of an A4 sheet (ideal if your A4 labels sit at the edges of each sheet).
Dedicated printers are better than “all-in-one” models; the latter do various tasks to a reasonable standard, while the former do one specific task to a much higher standard. As self adhesive labels require a more specialised print process AND a higher level of accuracy, you may struggle to use an “all-in-one” machines – some of which cannot process thicker media at all.