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The labelling industry can be a complex one.  There are many terms and words which may be unfamiliar to those ouside of the business.  This glossary features brief descriptions of commonly used phrases and terms.

Asset Label

Labels that are used for helping to identify, track and control equipment and other valuable assets. These labels are often made of a metalised label material which makes them more durable and tear resistant.

Barcode Scanner

A device that reads barcodes. A light source is directed at the printed barcode which is used to translate optical impulses into electrical impluses. Popular types of scanner are Pen, Laser & CCD. In recent years cameras on most smartphones have been able to read barcodes too.


Brady Corporation are a worldwide manufacturer of identification products ranging from low cost hand held label printers to safety products.

Cable Wrap

Flexible labels with a strong adhesive that wrap around cables and wires to provide a secure and durable form of identification. Most cable wraps are made from a clear material such as vinyl, with a coloured area at one end which is the printable area.


A mini scanner that scans business cards and stores the information electronically on a PC or server within a database rather than having to carry all your associates’ business cards around with you. This product is manufactured by Dymo

Computer-Linked Label Printer

A label printer that can be easily linked to your computer so that data or images can be shared between the two machines.


Transmission of information / data through computer and other digital devices (short for Datacommunications).

Desktop Label Printer

A label printer that is designed to sit on a desktop rather than be carried around, often capable of producing wider labels or a higher output than handheld versions.

Die-Cut Paper Labels

Labels that have been machine cut for precision shape and size. Usually supplied on rolls for the thermal printers but commonly found as A4 sheets for use in laser printers, inkjet printers and photocopiers.

Digital Label

A label that has been digitally designed and printed using cutting edge computer technology. The introduction of digital printers over the last ten years has enabled users to create short runs of pre-printed and bespoke labels without the set up costs of traditional printing methods

Direct Thermal Label

An label that requires no ribbon or ink for printing. The labels are top coated which reacts with the heat from the label printers printhead. The result is clean crisp image on the label which is for short term use such as address labels or packaging labels.

Direct Thermal Printer

Direct thermal printers require no ribbon. They are simple, low cost and easy to use and require very little maintenance making them ideal for label printing in environments such as warehouses.


Short for Dots Per Inch. Relates to print quality, the higher the DPI the better quality the image is.

Dumbell Labels

Shaped like little dumbbell weights (hence the name) these labels are often used to label small items such as jewellery. Their shape makes them ideal for tagging small, delicate objects due to their unobtrusive middle section which allows the label to be wrapped around an item of jewellery in a way which brings the opposite ends together, back to back. Hence, a  label printed only on one side produces a tag with text on both sides. The wider sides provide a place for printing prices, barcodes or other information.

Ethernet Enabled Label Printer

A Label printer that can be connected to your local computer network.

Embossing Tape

A thin tape made out of metal, usually stainless steel or aluminium or plastic. Usually associated with hand operated Dymo printers, this type of embossing tape has been used for many decades.

EPOS Barcode Labels

Electronic point of sale labels, such as barcodes found on most products.

Handheld Label Printer

Portable Label Printers that can be easily held and transported around, often used on-site such as data centres, or by electricians for labelling wires.

Heatshrink Tubing

Shrinkable plastic tubes that shrink down from their original size when heated. Usually used for labelling and insulating cables and wires. Commonly used in electrical cable installations, heatshrink tubing can only be applied to an open ended cable. There are many different types of heatshrink materials depending on the application, but the most common material is Polyolefin as it is has a good temperature range and is available in a wide range of colours.

Heat Shrink Ratio

The ratio, or maximum amount at which a product will shrink down from its original size to when heated, for example a heat shrink ratio of 2:1 means that the tubing will become half of Its original size when heated.

High Coercivity Magnetic Stripe Cards

Cards that have been encoded with a strong magnetic field, ideal for cards that need to be secure and long lasting, such as credit cards.


Kroy Inc manufacture a range of labelling products which include printers & labels. Based in the United States Of America and with representation around Europe.

Label Tape Cartridge

A label tape encased in a plastic cartridge. The cartridge will contain all the elements needed to create the label. Some label tape cartridges, such as Brothers TZe, TX and TC tapes contain not just the self-adhesive polyester backing and ink ribbon but they also include a tough clear laminate layer which is overlayed onto the label as it is printed, giving a more durable label.

Labelling Software

Software that has been designed to be used with a printer, most commonly thermal printers, to enable you to design and print labels easier. Most labelling software, even the free versions supplied with a label printer, will allow the production of labels that consist of text, images, barcodes & numeric fields.

Label Tape

Labels in the format of a continuous length which usually have an adhesive backing, often coming off a roll or out of a cassette. These labels have a printable surface throughout the roll.

Laminated Tape

Tape with a protective layer over the top to protect the text or image, usually clear film.

Laser Labels

Labels suitable for printing with a laser printer, commonly in A4 format with the labels die cut.

Laser Printer

A printer usually connected to a computer that prints onto paper using a beam of light using ink or toner. Images or text are made up of tiny little dots in a pattern to form the finished item.


Labels that loop back through themselves, one end having a tab and the other a keyhole for ‘locking’ into. These are not adhesive. These labels are traditionally used on plants due to the fact that they will not damage the stems. Also referred to as self ties.

Low Coercivity Magnetic Stripe Cards

Cards with a low intensity magnetic field; ideal for short use and less security.

Metallised Polyester Labels

Polyester labels coated with a thin layer of metal for added strength and durability; widely used for asset and ID labels. Most commonly seen with a matt finish but can be a high gloss.


Unit of measurement short for micron, which is equal to one millionth of a metre.

Mirror Printing

Form of printing that prints a mirror image of the original, either back to front or left to right.

Monochrome Printing

Images or text that is printed in a single colour, usually black. Also referred to as black and white.

Non-adhesive Tags

Tag labels without any adhesive, usually with an eyelet to enable them to be tied to items rather than stuck on.

PAT Test Label

Portable Appliance Testing Labels, such as those used for electrical safety tests to mark whether an item has passed or failed and when it next needs to be tested.

PCB Labels

Printed Circuit Board Labels. These labels have a high resistance to heat and water.

Plant Tags

Labels usually made out of plastic with a small hole or eyelet at one end into which the opposing end is threaded. They are ideal for labelling plants as they loop round the stem of the plant and so won't damage the plant.

Postal Scale

Scales to accurately and quickly weigh items, therefore reducing expenditure on postage.

Pricing Gun

A labelling gun ideal for pricing products, widely used in retail environments for producing labels and barcodes.


P-Touch is Brother's Labelling brand.  First appearing in around 1989, a label printer range was added to Brother's office machines line up which at the time included A4 printers, fax machines and typewriters. Brother were pioneers in the electronic label printer market, producing early models such as the PT8e which were handheld and had a small rotating dial to key in the text for your label.   Since then Brother have dominated the UK & European label printer market with a product range starting from a few pounds to more professional labelling solutions for industry.

Push-In Labels

Labels that are traditionally used by gardeners and garden centres to label plants pots and trays, due to the fact that they do not need to be attached to the plant and so therefore prevent damage. Sometimes referred to as “stick ins”

PVC Cards

Cards made from PVC Plastic that are widely used to make ID cards, credit cards, hotel room access cards and much more.

Security Labels

Labels to protect assets from theft, tampering or copying, often used to protect assets or for warranty labels. These labels are not easy to remove. The most popular type of materials are tamper evident and destructible.

Self-adhesive Labels

Labels that have an adhesive already applied on the reverse, meaning that no glue or moisture is required to apply them, so they are ready for quick and easy applying to surfaces.

Self-Laminating Labels

Labels that are covered (over laminated) with a clear plastic film, usually as they are printed to make them more durable.

Self Laminated Wire Marker Tape

Tape that is covered (over laminated) with a clear plastic film, usually as they are printed.


Labels that loop back through themselves, one end having a tab and the other a keyhole for ‘locking’ into. No adhesive is required. These labels are traditionally used on plants due to the fact that they will not damage the stems. Also referred to as Loop Locks.

Shipping Scale

Scales to accurately and quickly weigh items ready for shipping, therefore reducing expenditure on postage.


Labels that simply stick in soil, ideal for labelling plants as they will not damage the plant. Often used by garden centres for labelling plant trays or marking bulbs.

Tamper Evident Labels

Labels that show whether they have been tampered with, or tried to remove by disintegrating rather than peeling off. Often used for warranty seals, security seals or asset labelling.

Thermal Transfer Printer

Printers that use a heated ribbon to produce images using a heated ribbon to the surface.

Thermal Transfer Label

A label which has a thin protective top coating applied over the print. These labels can only be printed on using a ribbon.

Wax General Purpose Ribbon

Thermal printer ribbon made of mainly wax content which produces lower durability print but with the advantage of the ability print on a wide range of materials.

Wristband Printer

A printer that prints wristband labels, widely used in hospitals for creating name and allergy information labels.


The world leader in label printing technology. Manufacturer of label printers, ID card printers, wristband printers, labels and print ribbons. Represented in most countries across the globe Zebra are leaders in labelling.

Note: This information is provided on an "as is basis" for general referance and does not form any warranty or guarantee.  Errors and omissions excepted.

Last Updated: 4 August 2015