These key DOS & DON’TS come from Label Planet’s experience of working with labels, along with many thousands of customer calls and emails.
DO – READ YOUR PRINTER’S MANUAL: it may list specific settings or instructions that you need to follow when printing labels, as well as indicating if there are any materials or weights/thicknesses of materials that your printer CANNOT print.
DO – SET UP YOUR PRINTER PROPERLY: most printers have specific settings that improve the print quality (and accuracy) when printing labels. Select the “Labels” setting (or use “Heavy Paper”), double check the page size is A4, and confirm that no scaling options (e.g. Fit To Page) or Ignore Printer/Use Driver settings have been selected.
DO – USE YOUR PRINTER’S MEDIA BYPASS TRAY (if it has one): usually located just above or below the paper tray, the media bypass tray has two benefits when printing labels – 1) it can process thicker materials (like labels) and 2) it bypasses at least one set of rollers, which reduces the chances of your labels rotating slightly as they are printed (improving alignment accuracy).
DO – FEED YOUR LABELS CORRECTLY: always put your labels into your printer narrow-edge leading (portrait); paper labels have a grain (like wood) which runs from the top to the bottom of each A4 sheet. Feeding labels against this grain can cause them to detach from their backing sheet, which can lead to your labels (and your printer) being damaged.
DO – STORE UNPRINTED LABELS PROPERLY: to maintain the original quality of your labels, keep them in their original packaging and store them away from light, moisture, and extreme/fluctuating temperatures (high OR low); these factors can damage your labels, prevent the adhesive from functioning properly, and reduce the print quality you can achieve.
DO – ACCOUNT FOR THE SHAPE & LAYOUT OF YOUR LABELS: different label shapes and layouts offer their own benefits and challenges when it comes to designing and printing labels; take the time to ensure that your design fits onto your labels properly and check that your printer can print the full area of each label.
DO – A TEST PRINT FIRST: PRINT YOUR TEMPLATE ONTO A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER TO CHECK IF YOUR TEMPLATE & PRINTER ARE SET UP CORRECTLY (AND MAKE ANY NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS IF THEY ARE NOT) – BEFORE YOU PRINT YOUR LABELS.
DON’T – FEED LABELS THROUGH A PRINTER TWICE: this increases the risk of your labels separating inside your printer. It also reduces the print quality of paper laser labels; these labels rely on their high moisture content to produce high quality print and if you put them through a printer twice they will not have enough moisture to allow the toner to bond correctly.
DON’T – PRINT LASER LABELS WITH AN INKJET PRINTER OR INKJET LABELS WITH A LASER PRINTER: labels designed for a specific printing method are made with materials that are suitable for that method of printing only. Using the wrong printer can lead to (at best) extremely low quality print or (at worse) can damage your labels and your printer.
DON’T – USE AN INKJET PRINTER IF YOU WANT TO CREATE WATERPROOF LABELS: most inkjet inks are water-based, which means that they will run or smudge if they come into contact with water (or if the labels are handled a lot). Instead you should use a laser printer, which uses a dry printing process to bond toner (a dry powder) in place to produce waterproof print.
DON’T – EXPECT YOUR PRINTER TO PERFORM BEYOND ITS LIMITATIONS: cheaper, lower-spec printers will NOT be able to produce the same print quality, alignment accuracy, and high volume reliability of higher-spec printers. Always check your printer’s manual to confirm what kinds of media it can print, what materials (including weights/thicknesses) it can print, and what duty cycle it offers (how many sheets it can print to a reasonable standard within a certain time frame).
DON’T – TEST THE ADHESIVE STRAIGHTAWAY: if you try to peel a label off immediately after applying it that label WILL come off; always give the adhesive time to set properly to create the best possible bond between your labels and your items.
DON’T – OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS: software and templates (and printers) are limited in the complexity of design and accuracy of alignment that they can produce, so make sure your design is appropriate for the equipment you have to hand. Avoid intricate or detailed designs (those with borders, layered designs etc) unless you are confident that your software and hardware is capable of reproducing those designs with the accuracy of alignment that you need.
DON’T – JUST PRESS PRINT & EXPECT YOUR LABELS TO BE PERFECT: PRINT YOUR TEMPLATE ONTO A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER TO CHECK IF YOUR TEMPLATE & PRINTER ARE SET UP CORRECTLY (AND MAKE ANY NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS IF THEY ARE NOT) – BEFORE YOU PRINT YOUR LABELS. IN OTHER WORDS: DO A TEST PRINT FIRST!