How To Print Color Labels: A Comprehensive Guide

Blank inkjet label rolls with a color label printer can create high-quality labels for your product or business. If you want to make your production value look even higher, read through this thorough guide. It includes dozens of best practices for designing and printing your labels.


Label Logistics

Before you load your label rolls into your color label printer begin, read these tips for the most effective methods to store and handle your labels.


  • Hold your labels by the edges to avoid smudging or fingerprints.
  • Maintain your labels in the original packaging until you are ready for printing.
  • Store your labels at a cool, dry place to prevent humidity.
  • Shield your labels from constant exposure to direct sunlight or fluorescent light.



Design Best Practices

Some printing problems can be resolved with changes to your design. Others may be more technical, but design changes can help reduce the visual impact of those issues. Here are our recommendations for designing professional-quality labels.


Non-Printable Margins

Some label printers can’t print all the way to the edge of the roll. You should test your printer’s non-printable margins to determine what boundaries you need to look out for.

Once you know your printer’s non-printable margins, think of how to correct your design. If you’d like your labels to be symmetrical, then you might want to get rid of any borders or full-color designs. This can help stop any unprinted sections from looking out of place.



You want to include bleed to your label layouts whenever possible. Adding bleed means you add more design beyond where your label generally finishes. This excess design will extend across the edge of your label.

It exists to adjust for paper-shifting — in case your label sheets move a bit throughout the printing process, you are less likely to have blank sections on your label.

If you have a boundary and make it a little thicker. If you are using a background picture, see whether you can make it bigger so some hang off the border. We recommend adding an extra 1/8″ beyond the border for optimal results.



Safe Zones

Safe Zones are the inner version of bleed. You do not want any text or crucial imagery butting up against the border of your labels. We advise that you push your design more toward the center, by 1/8″ (0.125″).

This does not mean that your safe margins need to be empty. You are still able to include imagery, background colors and more — only keep significant elements (such as text or your logo, as an example) out of this space.




Alignment Issues

If your design is printing in the wrong place on your label sheet, you are likely experiencing alignment issues.


Uniform Misalignment

Problem: Every design printed uniformly too high/low or even left/right from the labels themselves.

Explanation: Your printer is feeding the label sheets too quickly or slow or the printhead is registering the beginning position too far to the left or right.

Solution: Fix The margins of your document so your designs fit up with the printer’s start position. Grab a ruler and find out just how far your layout is off in each direction. Then, enter “Page Setup” within the “Print” menu in your design program. If your layout is too far left, add your measurement to “Left.” If your layout is too far right, subtract your measurement out of “Left.”



Problem: Your Design isn’t adhering to your label rolls, it’s smearing on contact.

Explanation: If you’re using an inkjet color label printer, too much ink has been dispensed onto the page. The material you are printing on may not be optimal for the ink type.

Solution: For inkjet label printers, adjusting the material setting should help. First, open your printer dialog box and click “Advanced Options.” Pick the dropdown for “Paper Type”, “Type Is” or “Material Type”. Switching to “Photo/Glossy”.

You may also want to check out related articles on the topic, including Understand Label Orientation and Choosing the Right Labels.