Follow These Tips for Perfect Labels

Regardless of your reason for printing labels yourself or getting them printed by a company, one fact remains: your labels must be as close to perfect as possible. The reason for this is that anything you print, including labels, will be a direct reflection of you, your business or both.

But if there’s anything we all know for certain, it’s that mistakes can – and do – happen that can turn your easy label printing experience into a complete nightmare. But the good news is that each of them is preventable with some expert tips.

Artwork and Bleed

The bleed on label artwork must be adequate. “Bleed” is the amount of artwork which extends beyond the boundaries of the label. Ideally, 3mm of bleed is best for smaller printing such as that which occurs with labels. An inadequate amount of bleed can lead to uneven or incomplete borders and images.

Border

In addition to bleed, as far as label text is concerned, it’s important that it stay within its borders. Otherwise known as an ‘imaginary’ border, this is located a minimum of 5mm from the edge of any document. This provides some space between the label’s edge and its text. Not staying within this border could see your text being cut off once it’s been printed.

Text Size

Interestingly, not every colour of label background will respond well to the same text size. For example, if you want to place white text onto printed black inkjet labels, it’s important to ensure that only black – and not a combination of colours to make black – has been used. If more than one colour has been used, white text will appear blurry. This rule also applies to other colours as well as textures.

Text Format

There are two ways text can be added to a label: vector or raster. For the purpose of label printing, the former is better. This is because vectors are made using mathematical formulas, whilst raster images are made from pixels.

Colour Conversion

Before printing your labels, you must convert the colour type from RGB to CYMK. Not doing so can result in a lot of confusing colours where there once was uniformity. Conversions should also occur if you plan to have your labels printed by a company as opposed to printing them yourself.

Font Conversion

Another confusing element of label printing can be font conversion. Anytime you are using a programme that combines vector artwork and raster images, it`s important to ensure they`ve been converted to outlines before you export them to another file format for printing, such as PDF. And of course, always ensure that the conversion was made successfully before you print.

Images

You may have decided on a great image for your labels. But will it work once it reaches your printer? A common issue is pixelation, which can occur when an image’s resolution is too low. The higher the pixels per inch, or PPI of an image, the clearer it will be when it’s been enlarged.

In general, understanding what makes a label work and what doesn’t is crucial. This can be done by conducting some research into sound label design elements. You can even go online and visit design communities. These communities allow you to upload your artwork and receive feedback from experienced designers, which can be incredibly valuable if you are printing your labels on your own.

If you’ve decided to use a company to print your labels, it can help to ask them questions about the above. Although they’ve likely got it all in hand, asking questions can show you are interested in and want to understand more about what they do.

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Avoiding the Unreadable Barcode

With so much modern technology going into the labels we use, it can become easy to forget that the barcode was one of the first security labels. Barcode technology has endured, even as new forms like holographic and tamper-evident labels have come onto the scene.

However, as simple as barcodes are, the effects of an unreadable barcode can be utterly disastrous. If a barcode cannot remain readable from warehouse to final destination, it can, in effect, become ‘lost’. And this directly affects a business’s bottom line. But this can all be avoided by keeping a few things in mind.

Barcode Orientation and Size

There are two ways a barcode can appear on security labels; it can either be placed horizontally much like the rungs of a ladder, or vertically like a fence. The latter is preferable, because the likelihood that the barcode will be unreadable is far less.

The size of a barcode can also affect its readability. Generally speaking, barcodes become more difficult to read the smaller they get. In order for a small barcode to be readable, it must be incredibly clear. And this is where image resolution comes in.

High-Res Images

The more dots per inch any image has, the more clarity it will have. This is certainly true of barcodes. Small barcodes need to be of incredibly high resolution in order to be able to be read by scanners. As well, any numbers situated beneath the barcode should be readable as well, but by the naked eye.

Printer Maintenance

One of the most common and yet overlooked causes of unreadable barcodes is lack of print quality. And lack of print quality can often be attributed to poor printer maintenance. Specifically, there are two printer parts responsible for the clarity of all printed items including barcodes. These are the platen roller and the thermal print head. Both will have a dramatic effect on the print quality of your barcodes.

A worn platen roller can cause areas of missing print, or in the case of barcodes, missing gaps. This can render a barcode unreadable. If the thermal print head is dirty or contains foreign objects like dust particles, a fuzzy printout will be the result. This can be especially disastrous for small barcodes.

Both the platen roller and thermal print head can be cleaned with wipes specifically for this purpose. It is recommended that this type of cleaning be done for the roller and the print head whenever your print media changes.

Printer Calibration

The way in which a printer is calibrated can also contribute to poorly-printed barcodes. Things like print head pressure, temperature and other factors can make the proper printing of barcodes nearly impossible. Where the calibration of a printer is in question and more input is needed, it can help to have a professional take a look and calibrate the machine.

Media Type

Another very common cause of unreadable bar codes is using the incorrect media or ribbon. Some ribbon materials can work well with a label type, whilst others do not. If this is the problem, it can help to consult the information that came with the printer, which can sometimes reveal the answer. The information included with the ribbon can also provide clues as to which media may work best. A good way to determine if the media/ribbon combination is incorrect is when the printed bar code is difficult to read. Another indicator is if the ink smudges easily.

When combined with the right label material, the ink of a bar code can sink into the substrate, allowing it to remain readable for much longer, thereby allowing it to be tracked regardless of the distance an object must travel.

Types and Properties of Security Paper

Many use security labels to secure their products. But when it comes to securing certain kinds of documents, what is one to do? The paper or substrate on which documents are printed can offer basic security. Many types of security paper are available for purchase directly from merchants and can be bought in bulk to provide overall security. This makes security paper a far more cost-effective means of securing documents than other methods.

Sandwich Paper

Also called colour rip, sandwich paper contained a coloured leave in the centre, with two paper layers on either side. When ripped or torn, the colour would be revealed to make tampering obvious. Because this kind of paper can still be successfully copied, it is a good solution where light security is required.

The thinner the sandwich paper, the more difficult it can be to counterfeit, as three layers of paper would need to be glued together. And even so, an illegal copy could still easily be identified. The situations where sandwich paper is the solution are those where the threat of counterfeiting is low.

CBS1

CBS1 paper does not reflect ultraviolet light, which makes it ideal for printing with ultraviolet security inks. In addition, this paper type has resistance to particular chemicals that could be used to alter the document. These chemicals include bleach, water and various other solvents.

CBS1 paper is also ideal for overprinting using a laser printer. The document has porous properties that allow ink to penetrate the paper, making it more difficult to alter names, figures, dates and numbers, such as that found on cheques.

Security Threads

CBS1 security threads are rolled between CBS1 paper layers, which require expensive machinery to be able to be read. This makes them incredibly difficult to copy. Holographic threads are another type of security thread that is commonly used. However, the verification of holographic security threads must be thoroughly vetted.

UV Fibres

CBS1 paper can also contain UV fibres. These are pre-added to CBS1 paper and will show as coloured flecks when the right light is shone upon them. The flecks can also be visible to the naked eye, and so be obvious to anyone attempting to counterfeit. The fact that this paper is not easy to acquire presents an additional hardship to the would-be counterfeiter.

Tear-Resistant

Picophan one a common type of tear-resistant security paper. This type of paper consists of two layers or paper with a layer of tough plastic between them. Paper with tear-resistant properties is usually very useful for situations where documents need to be able to withstand conditions like water contamination, general wear and tear or the passing to more than one person or location.

Heavy Stock

Although CBS1 is most commonly used in security applications, there are situations that call for a heavier weight to be used.

There are products with UV dullness available for purchase. However, it must be ensure that a viable printing method is used on this thicker material. As well, some printing processes will require the paper to be processed in sheets or rolls.

Bespoke Watermark

Covering both custom watermark and standard watermark design, this paper type can be purchased off-the-shelf or printed with a company’s logo or text. Watermarks are notoriously difficult to copy, and usually, the more complex a logo is, the more difficult it is for a counterfeiter to copy.

Because no two types of security paper offer the same level of protection, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research each type and choose the one that you are sure will meet your needs before having your documents printed.

Make it Stand Out: Label Design Considerations

Any product that expects to be sold on a shelf today must contain certain information on its label by law. But what about the other areas of the label? Before anyone even gets to reading about the ingredients of or nutrients in a product, they must first be persuaded to pick up that product.

Those few seconds between a customer’s search for a product and physically picking that product up to investigate are all that product developers have to make an impression. So how do you make the inkjet labels on your products stand out enough to get that kind of attention in just a few seconds’ time?

Know What Your Audience Wants

Before you do anything else, you must understand your audience. Only then can you design a product label that’s been geared to them. For example, if your target audience is children, then your packaging may contain bright colours that children will point out to their parents.

The parents, before buying the product will want to know if it’s healthy for their children. And so your label will contain information about this as well. For example, your brightly-coloured label could also communicate that the product inside has an added vitamin, or was made using organic ingredients.

Looks

How do you want your product label to look? The design of your product label is what will attract the customer’s attention. So why not consult with professionals about creating a label that wows the customer? This way, you can use their expertise to communicate your message accurately and clearly.

Ideally, any product label should contain as much information about the product as possible without overwhelming the customer. Information can be communicated in more than one way; for example, you can use images to convey part of the message whilst your product name conveys another.

Flexibility

Although you want to be specific as possible about the information on your label, you may want to consider potential expansion of your product. For example, if you currently only produce a food product in one flavour, you may wish to expand to other flavours. Where this is the case, consider leaving space in your existing label for a different effect, such as a different block of colour or an image. You can even leave room for a QR code if you wish to reach consumers in a digital manner.

Packaging

Your package should complement your label, as well as what’s inside. For example, delicious donuts in a black, windowless box may not be as appealing as the same donuts in a brightly-coloured box with clear windows.

Effects

Today’s printers can apply any number of effects to help labels stand out from the other products on the shelf. Those who specialise in this kind of design whether found independently or as part of printing company staff are the best individuals to consult, as they will know how to best convey your message. But beyond that, they can take that message and apply it throughout the printing process.

Labels can be embossed to give them a smooth and professional look and finish. They can also be enhanced using the hot foil process, which adds an attractive sheen to particular areas of a label. But what these effects can also do is interact with the customer. This is because of their feel as well as their look.

A label that feels good when a customer picks it up will cause the customer to want to keep interacting with it. And if the product inside works well, or tastes good or looks attractive also, then a marketing home run is the result.