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Shirt with labels
A bunch of bananas with a label
A label with faux embossing
Bumper stickers on a car.

A label is a piece of paper, polymer, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a container or article, on which is printed a legend, information concerning the product, addresses, etc. Information printed directly on a container or article can also be considered labeling.

Labels have many uses: product identification, name tags, advertising, warnings, and other communication. Special types of labels called digital labels (printed through a digital printing) can also have special constructions such as RFID tags, security printing, and sandwich process labels.


Labels can be attached by:

PSA adhesive types[edit]

Pressure-sensitive label adhesives are commonly made from water based acrylic adhesives, with a smaller volume made using solvent based adhesives and hotmelt adhesives. The most common adhesive types are:

Stock types[edit]

The "label stock" is the carrier which is commonly coated on one side with adhesive and usually printed on the other side. Label stocks can be a wide variety of papers, films, fabric, foils, etc.

Some labels designed on a notebook.

The stock type will affect the types of ink that will print well on them.

Corona treating or flame treating some plastics makes them more receptive to inks and adhesives by reducing surface tension.

Application and use[edit]

Labels can be supplied:

Many labels are pre-printed by the manufacturer. Others have printing applied manually or automatically at the time of application.

Some labels have protective overcoats, laminates, or tape to cover them after the final print is applied. This is sometimes before application and sometimes after.

Labels are often difficult to peel and apply. Most companies use a Label dispenser to speed up this task.

Specialized high speed application equipment is available for certain uses.

A typical Label dispenser


Ink and base stock color choices commonly conform to the Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors. The Pantone system is very dominant in the label printing industry. Additionally specialty inks such as metallic, UV ink, magnetic ink, and more are available. Ink is usually transparent however it can be made opaque. It has been known for certain companies to patent "their own" color.[1] Digital labels use process colors to replicate Pantone solid colors.

Specialized labels [edit]



Product label[edit]

Permanent product identification by a label is common. These labels need to be able to bond securely to the surface for its intended life and under in-use conditions. For example a label on an automobile engine needs to be resistant to the heat and oils encountered and to be secure for many years of use.

Removable product labels need to hold until they must be removed. For example, a label on a new refrigerator has installation and usage information: the label needs to be able to be removed cleanly and easily from the unit once installed.

An eco-label is used on consumer products (including foods) to identify products that may be less damaging to the environment and/or to humankind than other related products.

Asset labeling[edit]

In industrial environments, asset labeling is used to clearly identify assets for maintenance and operational purposes. Such labels are frequently made of engraved Traffolyte or a similar material.[5]

Textile labeling[edit]

In certain clothing articles, a label or other affixed instructions that report how a product should be refurbished. This type of label is required by the FTC, Federal Trade Commission, for certain clothing items in the United States of America.[6] According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all sales of textiles containing pesticides as an ingredient must be properly labeled according to the United States labeling requirements and must be approved for sale by the EPA. The label has to provide the pesticide registration number, a proper statement of ingredients, as well as the storage and disposal information. The following statement has to appear on the label: "It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling”. It is hence essential for suppliers to ensure that pesticide-treated products provide the correct labels and use the language required and approved by the EPA for pesticide treated articles. The import, sale and distribution of mislabeled pesticide-treated products violate federal pesticide regulations and will be subject to fines.[7]

A label including a company name or identification number and a material content list may also be required for certain textile items.[8]

The common textile labels used on garments can be classified into four main groups – Woven labels, Leather labels, PVC/Plastic Labels, and Embroidered Labels. It is one of the primary tools used to establish brand identity.[9]

Package label[edit]

Packaging often has labels attached to (or integral with) the package. These communicate pricing, barcodes, UPC identification, usage guidance, addresses, advertising, recipes,[10] and so on. They also may be used to help resist or indicate tampering or pilferage. Often high speed label printer applicators are used to apply labels to packages.

Mailing label[edit]

Letters and packages need labels to identify the addressee and the sender. Many software packages such as word processor and contact manager programs produce standardized mailing labels from a data set that comply with postal standards. These labels may also include routing barcodes and special handling requirements to expedite delivery.

Price guns[edit]

Pricing gun is tool normally used in departmental stores, grocery and other retail businesses.[11] Pricing guns are used to label store products with a small sticker that indicates the current price of that item. While there are a wide variety of pricing gun manufacturers that offer different styles and features, most pricing guns operate in a similar manner.[12] The gun dispenses labels with adhesive backs, allowing the gun's user to affix labels to merchandise. Periodically label rolls run out and need to be replaced.[13]

Using a pricing gun one can mark retail stock prices quickly. In order to use it, the label gun should be held by the handle with the sticker dispenser pointed towards the object which needs to be priced. The lever tabs on both sides should be held firmly from the upper cover and then the lever tab should be pulled gently.[14]

There are two types of tagging guns, fine fabric and standard guns. Fine fabric guns are used for delicate materials that would otherwise be damaged if a regular gun is used like silk and other delicate clothes, but are also used for every day items as well. Regular guns are normally used in grocery stores.[15]

Environmental considerations[edit]

Labels can aid in recycling and reuse by communicating the material content of the item, instructions for disassembly, recycling directions, etc.

Based on the solid waste hierarchy, the quantity and size of labels should be minimized without reducing necessary functionality. Material content of a label should comply with applicable regulations. Life cycle assessments of the item being labeled and of the label itself are useful to identify and improve possible environmental effects. For example, reuse or recycling are sometimes aided by a label being removable from a surface. If a label remains on an item during recycling, a label should be chosen which does not hinder the recyclability of the item.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Labels Glossary|self adhesive labels glossary". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  3. ^ "Printer Labels". Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  4. ^ "Printer Labels | Ticket Printing | Barcode Labels | Thermal Roll Labels". 2010-04-02. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  5. ^ Paula, K; Ashraf, A (January 4, 2013), "Asset Labels, Asset Sticker, Property ID, Property Labels: Asset Label Genarator", Asset Labels Australia 
  6. ^ "Clothes Captioning: Complying with the Care Labeling Rule". (November 2001). Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission (United States)
  7. ^ "SGS SafeGuard Bulletin". Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts". (May 2005). Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission (United States)
  9. ^ "Garment Labels 101 – CF". 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  10. ^ "Stock Merchandising Labels | Custom Merchandising Labels". Specialty Printing. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  11. ^ "Choosing the Right Price Gun | Price Gun Store". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  12. ^ "Where to Tag Your Prices: Location | Price Gun Store". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  13. ^ "How to Use a retail pricing tag gun « Tools & Equipment". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  14. ^ "How to load a pricing gun". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  15. ^ "How to Use Tagging Guns Safely | Mark Etinger". 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  16. ^ Kovach, A; Brown, S (July 1, 2008), "Label recycling: a materials issue", Packaging Digest 
  17. ^ Katz, S (July 2008), "Waste Recycling", Label and Narrow Web 


External links[edit]