Labels & Rolls 101

This page is dedicated to label basics, common label terms (many more are defined in our Glossary), and what to know when ordering pressure sensitive labels. A pressure sensitive or self-adhesive label is made up of a few basic parts: a facestock and an adhesive on a liner, produced on a roll.

 

Anatomy of a label roll

1. Facestock

The part of the label we print on, also the part of the label your customers will see. The most common materials used as a facestock for pressure sensitive labels are paper, film, and foil.

 

2. Adhesive

Free Printed Label Samples from Advanced Labels This is of course the sticky part of a pressure sensitive label. The adhesive will remove easily from the liner for easy application to your product or container. There are a few types of adhesives: all temperature, cold temperature, permanent, and removable. These types of labels are called self adhesive or pressure sentive because the adhesive is a part of the label– they do require the addition of glue for application to your container, just like a sticker. 

 

3. Liner / Carrier

Also called the carrier or backing, for pressure sensitive labels it is most commonly a brown kraft color paper, and it has a special coating that allows your labels to be easily removed.

 

4. Top Coating

The top coating is the final protective layer applied to your labels, if desired. Some top coatings are visible, like glossy or matte coatings, and can be used as another element of your label design. Others are not visible and are purely functional, protecting the facestock from damage.

 

5. Core

The core is the sturdy cardboard center of a label roll. Just like a roll of paper towels, when you reach the end of your label liner only the core will remain. Depending on the label application equipment you use, the core will be either 1-inch or 3-inches in diameter. Unless you are hand applying your labels with no machine assistance of any kind, we will need to know which core size to use. Different label machines have varying requirements for core size.


 

How to store label rolls

 

Understanding "Rewind"

 
Label basics, rewind direction for label printing on rolls
 

When your labels are printed they go on a roll. There are 8 possible orientations for the labels related to how they go onto the final roll.

 
The "Rewind Direction" refers to which way the label printing is "right side up" as you unroll your labels to apply them to your products.

 
If you are hand applying your labels, rewind #2 or #3 is most common for right handers, and rewind #4 is the favorite for south paws.

 
Why is this important? Rewind direction is critical for semi-automatic and machine applied labels. The equipment you use will specifiy a rewind direction between 1 and 8, and that's the number your rolls must be produced with to be compatible with your label applicator.

 
Just like the core size of 1-inch or 3-inches, your equipment will be set up to handle a specific rewind direction.


 

Roll Size Matters!


Don't order a giant label roll if you will be moving it around manually!The size of each label roll is known to as th Outside Diameter, or "O.D.". This can be crucial information for both hand application and machine application.

 
For hand application, there are two primary considerations. First, will you physically be able to move the roll around? While it's true you can save a little on your order by buying a single roll, make sure it's something you will be able lift, move, and work with.


Second, will you have more than one person applying the labels? Sharing a single roll during hand application will slow you down. Consider breaking your order up across a few smaller rolls or even ordering one for each person applying labels. 


For machine application, the O.D. is important because each machine is different and will have a different maximum O.D., as well as core size and necessary rewind direction. Check with your equipment manufacturer for exact specifications.

 

Additional Resources

 

Label order checklistLabel Order Checklist: Answer These 15 Questions First

Unlike cookie-cutter shops that offer a few standard sizes on a limited selection of stocks, a custom label provider has virtually unlimited ordering options. You will have questions and your label provider will have questions. Together the best possible label products will be selected.

 

Label proofs explainedLabel Proof Explained

Unlike cookie-cutter shops that offer a few standard sizes on a limited selection of stocks, a custom label provider has virtually unlimited ordering options. You will have questions and your label provider will have questions. Together the best possible label products will be selected. 

 

What to expect when ordering labelsWhat to Expect When You're Expecting Labels

Unlike cookie-cutter shops that offer a few standard sizes on a limited selection of stocks, a custom label provider has virtually unlimited ordering options. You will have questions and your label provider will have questions. Together the best possible label products will be selected. 

 

Test your label material!Top 7 Triggers for Testing Your Label Material

One of the most important aspects of planning and purchasing your labels is the testing process, to determine if the material of choice actually meets all label performance expectations for your specific application.

What size label do you need?How to Figure Out Which Size Label You Need

Your label needs to do several things to be successful: Fit on your bottles, stay on your bottles, and of course look good doing it.

 

Ask your next label printer these 10 questions10 Questions to Ask Before Committing to a Label Printer

Your label printer is a business partner crucial to ensuring the quality of your final product. Your label determines your shelf appeal and reinforces your brand, and you shouldn’t trust just anyone with this responsibility. Just like any business partnership, do your research to find the label printer that’s right for you.

 

Which label paper or label material is right for you?How to Choose the Right Custom Label Material

Your labels are more than stickers. Your labels have a job to do - to name your product and let the world know what it has to offer. But to do that successfully, your labels need to stick to your product or container. A simple paper label isn't going to work for every application, so here are 6 questions to help you choose the right custom label material.

 

plan ahead when ordering labelsDon't Leave Labels for Last! 4 Reasons Great Labels Require Careful Planning

When should you order your labels, and what preparations need to be made before you do? All too often, packaging is an afterthought. With containers, closures, and labels all needing to work together, you should always plan ahead.

 

A long list of label printing terms. Don't fall asleep!Glossary of Label Terms

Familiarize yourself with the many terms used in the commercial label printing industry. We strive to communicate clearly with our customers, but some of the terms we use may sound like a foreign language if you are new to label packaging.

 

Common Label Corner Radius Chart

 24 label corner radius' - click for PDF