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Learn More About Label Makers

What kind of label maker do you need?

Manual label maker


Ideal for: Home and small/home office use. Small jobs that require one line of print only. A manual label maker is functional and economical, but not as versatile as an electric model.

Key features:

  • Employs a character wheel — select a letter, click handle, and imprint. For maximum versatility, opt for a model that comes with a vertical (for binder and book spines) and horizontal (for file folders) wheel.
  • Generally prints one continuous line of characters between .15" and .20" high.
  • Typically uses ¼" or 3/8" glare–free, self–adhesive label tape (label tape refills sold separately).
  • Built–in cutter snips off label tape.

What's available: Models are generally plastic, lightweight, and very portable. They do not require batteries or an AC adapter.


Basic electronic label maker


Ideal for: Infrequent use at home or in a home/small office. Create labels for file folders, computer disks, binders, and computer hardware.

Key features:

  • Generally offers 1 to 4 fonts, 5 to 8 font sizes, and 3 to 9 style enhancements (bold, italics, underline, etc.).
  • Prints between 1 and 6 lines per label (printing cartridges sold separately). For maximum versatility, look for a model that prints both horizontally (for file folders) and vertically (for binder and book spines).
  • Uses label tape (laminated and self–adhesive) that ranges in width from ¼" to 1½". For maximum versatility, pick a model that uses more than one size label tape. Switching from one size tape to another simply requires changing tape rolls. (Label tape sold separately.)
  • Screen displays between 4 and 15 characters. Some screens offer two lines of display.
  • The average text and image resolution for a label maker is 200 dpi.
  • Often handheld, which increases portability but offers a very small ABC keyboard. Desktop models with traditional typewriter–style keyboards are less portable, but generally make typing easier.

What's available: Most label makers use AA batteries. AC adapters are sold separately. Most models come with a limited manufacturer's warranty. Label tape comes in a variety of sizes and colors and is sold separately.


Advanced electronic label maker


Ideal for: Home, office, and commercial use. Easily creates labels for file folders, computer disks, binders, and computer hardware. Also suited for creating UPC codes.

Key features:

  • Offers 1 to 10 fonts, 5 to 18 font sizes, and 8 to 14 style enhancements (bold, italics, underline, etc.). Some models also offer clip art and symbols.
  • Prints 4 to 8 lines per label (printing cartridges sold separately). Most models print both horizontally (for file folders) and vertically (for binder and book spines).
  • Uses label tape (laminated and self–adhesive) that ranges in width from ¼" to 1½". Most advanced models use more than one size label tape. Switching from one size tape to another simply requires changing tape rolls. (Label tape sold separately.)
  • Screen displays between 4 and 48 characters. A larger screen makes typing, proofreading, and editing easier. Some screens offer two lines of display and an automatic proofreading feature.
  • The average text and image resolution for a label maker is 200 dpi.
  • Typically is a desktop machine with a traditional typewriter–style keyboard. Some advanced models even connect to your computer, utilizing your PC's software and interface to print through the label maker. A few handheld models are available (they generally have very small ABC keyboards).

What's available: Most label makers operate using AA batteries. AC adapters are sold separately. Some models are Windows®, Macintosh®, and NT® compatible. Most come with a limited manufacturer's warranty. Label tape comes in a variety of sizes and colors; also sold separately.

Tip: If you often use the same phrases, opt for a model that saves preset phrases (such as fragile or handle with care) for instant recall and printing.


Label printer


Ideal for: Printing labels and USC barcodes directly from your desktop or laptop.

Key features:

  • Connects to your computer through a USB port, allowing you to work right from your PC or laptop. Generally compatible with Windows® 98, NT®, 2000, ME®, XP®. Also Macintosh OS8.6 and 9.
  • Prints between 8 and 32 labels per minute. The more labels per minute, the faster your print job will be completed.
  • Prints self–adhesive labels 1½" and 2 1/3" wide. (Label tape sold separately.)
  • Look for a printing resolution of 300 dpi, which offers laser–quality text and graphics.
  • Generally offers direct thermal printing, which eliminates toner, ribbon, or ink cartridge costs.
  • Some models offer a built–in database, which allows you to recall "favorite" labels for repeat printing.
  • Most label printers come with software, USB/serial cables, power cord, manual, and a limited number of labels.

Tip: For maximum use and versatility, look for a model that prints Internet postage as well as labels.


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