Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Youtube Instagram Pinterest

Label Printing Terms


Print University

     Print University

Label Terms

  • Application Temperature:  The temperature of the surface that the label will be applied to at the time of application
  • Adhesive:  The sticky part of the label on the bottom of the stock.  It can be permanent, removable, repositionable, static cling/stick or many other choices
  • Back-Sheet Printing:  When printing is required on the liner, we can “turn” the liner and print on it.  Great for special offers or additional information such as application   
  • Blank Labels:  As it sounds, where there is no printing on the label though it is still die or butt-cut or set-up for a printer for the end-user to print their own information
  • Bleed:  When ink “bleeds” off the label, it means the ink is printed to the edge of the label and past the die cut line. Bleeds are possible on butt-cut labels but an additional cut is required to eliminate the white line that is produced from the printing plates 
  • Booklet Labels:  A great way to add more information to a label.  Booklet labels unfold to show additional “pages”. These are are perfect when you need to want to add more information such as use instructions, recipes, safety precautions, storage information, etc.  
  • Coupon Labels:  A label or part of a label that can add information or has a redeemable value such as a discount, free extra item, etc
  • Die Cut:  Labels that are die cut have a radius corner (click here for radius corner chart) with the material normally removed between
  • Bar Code:  A bar code is a series of lines and spaces that represent alpha/numeric printing.  Think of a bar code as a different type of “font”.  There are several styles of bar codes including UPC,  Code 3 of 9 and many more. Each one is used for specific purposes.  The bar code you see in the grocery store is a UPC (or Universal Product Code)
  • Butt-Cut:  Also known as “knife-cut”, these are bels that are butted and cut up agains each other, leaving no excess material or spacing between the labels, hence each label “butts-up” against the others.  Butt-Cut labels cannot bleed between each label unless there is a 1/8″ gap between each label where the printing plate comes together
  • CMYK:  Also known as full color process printing.  CMYK stands for Cyan (Blue), Magenta, Yellow and K (Black). Using a percentage of each color, any color, photo, artwork, etc., can be printed
  • Copy Position:  This indicates the was the copy of the label comes off the roll.  e.g. top, bottom, left or right side copy off first.Halftones:  Sometimes confused with (an inter-changeable with) a screen, halftones normally refers to continuous-tone photographs and art 
  • Consecutive Numbering:  When used as a counting or inventory method, labels can be numbered including with a bar code.  They can also be numbered in sets of numbers/labels when a duplicate, triplicate and so on is required.  This is the case with many medical and hospital labels for testing purposes
  • Iridescent Labels:  These types of labels are when ink is applied to a silver iridescent material creating eye-catching, beautiful labels 
  • Kiss-Cut:  When a label is “kiss-cut”, the facestock is cut through the label material down to, but not through the liner
  • Lamination:  Lamination is a clear plastic film applied on top of labels to provide additional protection from liquids, moisture and other elements that could hurt the label print.  It can be gloss or matte finish and the matte finish is also available in an imprintable stock so that you can write on it
  • Self-Lamination:  Also known as “self-seal”. This is where a portion of the label liner remains with the lamination allowing the user to life it up, write on the label, peel off that portion of the lamination and finish laminating the entire label.
  • Linerless Labels:  These are labels that have no liner to be thrown away.  They are prevented from sticking together by use of special silicones. These are great in large-scale hand applied applications where the liner slows the process down and gets in the way. 
  • Liner:  The liner is the backing that the label is on and is removed from the label when the label is being used
  • Machine Application:  If you are using a semi-automatic or fully automatic machine to apply your labels to bottles, etc., the finished rolls must be set-up for the specific equipment.  Eagle will work closely with your bottler/application company to ensure they receive the labels for their specific requirementsReverse Print:  Where the ink is printed so the color of the paper shows through as the copy
  • Screen: (not to be confused with a silkscreen screen), this is where a dot pattern is used to create additional colors from one color.  The through this dot pattern create the illusion of other colors
  • Security Slits:   Multiple slits are cut into the label facestock so that the label tears apart if removal is attempted 
  • Spot Color:  Spot colors are single “called-out” PMS (Pantone Matching System) ink colors.
  • Reverse Printing:  Reverse printing is where the stock material shows through to form the letters, logo, etc.  For example, if you reverse print on a white label with black ink, the lettering will be white and the label look black.
  • Stock:  The label material itself that shows on the outside.  e.g. Gloss Paper, Clear Polyester, White Vinyl
  • Unwind Position:  Along with copy position, this indicates if you labels unroll with the copy hidden (inside copy) or visible copy (outside copy).
  • Variable Numbering:  Using a database, labels can be printed with variable information including numbering.  This is used when consecutive numbering will not meet the needed requirements
  • Varnish:  A varnish is a clear top coating on top of the printed ink to protect the ink, add a high-gloss or matte finish or add a “spot” finish to specific parts of the label.  A varnish can be UV (high-gloss, aqueous coat (AQ) or matte)
  • Web:  A web press uses a large roll of label material.  The web normally refers to the width of the roll as it runs through the press
  • White Ink Back-Up:  Also know as “flash” in t-shirt silkscreening, this is where a white ink is added below the printing  on a clear label to increase readability 

Label Printing Processes

  • Flexographic:  The most popular form of printing labels, especially higher quantities due to it’s higher printing speeds. Rubber plates are applied to round cylinders that apply the printing colors on a continuous roll of labels which are then die or butt-cut then wound down to smaller rolls
  • Digital:  This process prints in CMYK (full color) user some type of toner, ink, ribbon or laser ink.  It is great for short runs, variable information items such as consecutive number bar codes or various products
  • Hot-Stamp: Using a metal plate which applies heat to a ribbon then presses into the label stock
  • Silk-Screen:  Great for t-shirts, bumper stickers and any application in a rough or outdoor environment
  • Embossed:  An embossed label is one where an image or design is raised above the flat label surface, creating a tactile image. Embossed labels can be “blind”, with just the image or over-printed with a color
  • Cold-Foil:  Similar to hot-stamp but the foil is applied using a process that does not use heat


Label Materials

  • Gloss Paper:  Used when a glossy or shiny appearance is desired.  Not to be used when label needs to be written on
  • Matte Litho Paper:  Has a similar appearance and feel to white paper.  Excellent when label needs to be written on
  • EDP Smudgeproof Paper:  Uncoated white paper used or dot-matrix/pin feed printers and to write on
  • White EDP Gloss:  A porous, absorbent material designed for excellent printability on typewriters, and non-laser printers
  • Fluorescent Paper:  A bright colored “neon” uncoated stock that is available in red, orange, pink, green, orange and blue.  Also called “DayGlo”
  • Gold and Silver Foil Paper:  A paper label with a “foil” top in silver and gold, shiny or matte finish.  This stock is great for decorative purposes and can be embossed and foiled
  • Vinyl:  This is a great material for outdoor use, first popularized for bumper stickers.  It comes in permanent, removable and repositionable adhesives.  Durable, weather and water resistant
  • Clear Vinyl:  A durable, weather resistant stock that appears clear when applied.  White ink under printing is recommended for better visibility.  Adhesive is available on the front or back of the material depending on the application and viewing direction
  • Polyester:  A highly durable synthetic film used primarily for outdoor uses involving possible levels of abuse or abrasion.  Polyester will stand up longer in a moist environment and is resistant to most oils and solvents 
  • BOPP:  Is a white film material that is flexible, making it suitable for both rigid plastic and squeezable containers
  • Static Cling:  This is the material you see with your “Oil Change” window decals. It comes in clear and white and can have face or back “adhesive” though it is not a sticky adhesive but sticks statically to many surfaces but glass works best.  If you use clear with front adhesive for an inside window application, you must back it up with a color so the copy shows
  • Kraft Paper:  A brown paper (comes in a lighter and darker shade) has the look and feel of a grocery bag.  Except for black, colored inks will change color and appearance on kraft paper and is not recommended for digital printing
  • Imprintable Polyester:  A polyester with a top coating allowing the addition of writing, either by hand or some type of printer 
  • Tamper Evident:  A material used where someone wants indication that the label or application piece has been tampered with such as a computer hard drive.  It comes in two styles;  1: The word “VOID” or a “Checker-Box Pattern” remains on the application piece when the label is pealed off;  2.  A  custom printed pattern such as company logo remains when the label is removed
  • Destructible Vinyl: Another label material used to indicate tampering but this stock “destructs” into many small pieces when removal is attempted.  It literally “chips” away
  • Thermal Transfer Paper:  A material designed to accept “ink” from a thermal transfer printer ribbon.  Guaranteed to work with leading thermal transfer printers.   
  • Thermal Direct Paper: A paper designed to be reprinted using a thermal direct printer (similar to the old fax machines).  Guaranteed to work with leading direct thermal transfer printers
  • Laser: Any material (though normally paper) designed to be run through a laser printer. It has a higher tolerance to heat as laser printers can get very hot
  • Holographic:  A microscopically fine diffractive material by which three-dimensional images are generated 
  • Inkjet:  The same as laser material but more adaptable to inkjet inks.  Almost always it must be a paper to absorb the toner ink though materials can be flood coated with a varnish to accept the ink
  • Tag:  Normally a 10pt (10 point), though other thicknesses available such as 13pt, non-adhesive material used for membership cards, tags, and other marketing pieces.
  • Piggyback:  Piggyback labels are on two liners so that the top label can be removed and re-applied to another surface.  Used mostly for coupon style labels though many pharmacies used an carbonless piggyback stock so that prescriptions have a copy on the bottom label
  • Ultra-Clear: Also know as “cosmetic material” or “no-look”,  this stock is used when the adhesive residue is not wanted to be seen.  Mostly used in cosmetics, food and beverage industries as well as personal care products an over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Normally applied to clear bottles so that the product inside can be clearly seen.  If laminated, an ultra clear lamination will also be used
  • Squeeze-Able:  This is another material normally used in cosmetics when the label is applied to a tube that is squeezed by the end user to get the contents out of the tube.  Other materials will crease and start coming off the tube
  • Wine Label Papers:  These are specialty papers created for use by the wine industry.  They are thick, have a rough feel, look porous and have distinctive patterns. These include:
    • White Wet-Strength
    • Classic Linen texture
    • Bright White Felt texture
    • Eggshell Felt texture
    • Estate #8 texture (off-white color)
    • Estate #9 texture (eggshell color)
    • Classic Felt Natural White (not pure white)
    • Classic Laid texture (off-white)
    • Classic Crest white texture white color) 

Label Adhesives

  • Permanent Adhesive:  As it states, an adhesive that is permanent in nature and designed not to be removed from the application surface
  • Removable Adhesive:  A removable adhesive allows the label to be removed from its application surface without leaving pieces of label behind.  However, the adhesive will become more permanent with time and hotter environments
  • Ultra-Removable Adhesive:  An excellent alternative to static cling (Static-Stick).  It adheres betters and removes just as easily.  It comes in white and clear facestocks
  • Cold-Temp Adhesive:  A stock that works well in refrigerators and freezers.  This refers to the environment the label will be in NOT the application surface temperature. Normally the label is applied on a room temperature surface then put into a colder environment
  • Repositionable Adhesive:  This material can be applied then peeled and repositioned numerous times without leaving residue.  The adhesive will stay temporary throughout its product life. 
  • Opaque Adhesive:  Also called “block-out” adhesive, the adhesive is completely opaque obscuring the application surface so whatever is below (an old label) does not “show through” or if the surface color could affect the look of the label.  The opaque adhesive might slightly affect the appearance of the ink color and PMS color matches.
  • Hi-Tack Adhesive:  An aggressive permanent adhesive used for rough and textured surfaces.  “Tire Adhesive” falls into this category 
  • Special Adhesive:  Many other label adhesives are available to special applications such as very cold/freezing very hot environments.

Label Inks

  • PMS Inks (From 1 to multi-color printing, depending on press being used.  Many are stock or standard inks at th factory without any up-charge.
  • CMYK Inks:  Also known as full color process printing.  CMYK stands for Cyan (Blue), Magenta, Yellow and K (Black)
  • Metallic Inks:  Listed in the PMS chart, metallic ink is a varnish or vehicle containing metallic particles. Common metals used to manufacture metallic ink include copper, aluminum, bronze or zinc. When metallic ink is printed and left to dry, the metallic particles rise to the surface, reflecting light and creating a metallic sheen.
  • Specialty Inks:  These include:
    • Glitter Ink
    • Scratch-Off Ink
    • Scented Ink
    • Glow in the Dark Ink

Tips for Keeping Your Labels Happy

PS:  Always advise your label printer with the following information:

  1. What is the label being applied to?
  2. What is the application temperature? (room and item being labeled)
  3. What happens to the label after? (Outside, refrigerator, freezer, water, etc.)
  4. Does it need to be removed at any time?
  5. What else do we need to know about the label and product?
  6. How do I measure my label?