What is a Label Maker?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Label makers are simple handheld devices that make it possible to prepare simple labels for use around the home or office. Most models of label makers utilize a labeling tape made with synthetic materials. However, the current generation of label making equipment sometimes make use of standard paper labels.

During the middle of the 20th century, the manual label maker was a popular labeling option at home and in the workplace. Using colored labeling tape, it was possible to set a character wheel to the right letter, number, or other character and depress a simple lever in order to make an indentation in the tape. The indentation would appear as a white letter or other character. At the same time, a mechanism in the label maker would advance the tape one round so that the next character in the sequence could be added to the tape string.

This basic label maker became more streamlined through the period between 1960 and 1980. However, the basic concept remained the same. The label tape was equipped with an adhesive backing that was covered with a seal. The seal was peeled away from the tape just prior to affixing the label to the intended object.


With technological advances in later years, the digital label maker came into being. This type of label maker usually has a display screen that allows the user to key in a word or phrase for a label, then review the text before creating the final product. Devices of this type may use several different mediums to create the label. The traditional plastic rolls of label tape are used with some brands while others utilize ink and paper labels arranged on a roll.

With both the older manual and the newer digital types of labeling equipment, the range of applications is impressive. A label maker can be used for home organization projects, making it possible to label the outside of boxes for storage in the attic or in a closet. Labels for the fronts of file cabinet drawers can also be produced with ease. The maker can be used to create simple labels for children’s cups, photo boxes, or just about any type of storage unit.

Around the office, a label maker can also help with organization tasks. File boxes can easily be labeled with a list of contents, dates, and other relevant data. Shelves or bins in a supply area can be labeled to make sure forms and other office materials are organized and easily accessible when needed. As with the home, file cabinet drawers can be labeled to make identification of the contents a simple task.

Most office supply stores will carry at least a couple of brands of labeling devices. In addition, many craft shops also sell at least one type of label maker. Label tape refills are usually sold at any store that sells office supplies. Generally, the label refills are inexpensive, and often are available in a range of colors.


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