In our blog, Benefits of Printing Postage Online, we highlighted the advantages that online postage can give small businesses. Printing your own postage labels can save you money, speed up your mailing and shipping tasks and help your establishment in other ways. In this blog, we’ll show you the correct and easy ways on how to create shipping labels.

How Startups Can Create Professional-Looking Shipping Labels

Why Do Small Businesses Need A Shipping Label?

Shipping labels are vital to business due to the following reasons:

Why-Do-Small-Businesses-Need-A-Shipping-Label

1.

Your Shipping Label Bears Important Details about You and the Recipient

Your postage sticker indicates your parcel’s destination, which ensures that it reaches your customer. It also has your address in case a return is necessary. 

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Direct Thermal Label

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2.

The Shipping Label Shows the Service Type Used

Your package’s postage tag bears proof of the kind of service that you used to send it. This lets the carrier’s employees know how fast they should process and deliver the parcel. It also shows customers that you used the shipping service that they specified and paid for.

Shipping Labels for Startup

3.

Computer-Printed Shipping Labels Maintain Your Parcel's Professional Look

Shipping addresses can be handwritten or printed on the computer. But computerized labels look neater and can be reproduced without your hand tiring out. Expertly done tags are part of your packaging. They preserve its professional appearance even as it goes through rugged transport conditions. 

4.

Shipping Labels Can Help You Promote Your Brand

There is at least one area on your postage sticker where you can print your business logo or slogan. Such a tool helps promote your brand and encourage repeat purchases. Its location will depend on your carrier’s label template.

Shipping Labels Can Help You Promote Your Brand

5.

They Help You Stay Compliant with USPS Regulations  

USPS requires small businesses to include the IMpb barcode on the shipping label. This tool enhances the parcel’s traceability and ensures that registered small business owners are given postage discounts. The IMpb barcode can be obtained from the office, but aside from spending on travel, it will be given to you at the retail price. However, getting it online will knock off your fuel expenses, and hefty discounts will reduce your postage costs.

Printing shipping labels can be confusing if you just decided to do it on your own for the first time. Be consoled, however, because it should get better in a jiffy. Most online postage apps are easy to learn and user-friendly. 

Learn More:

What Information is On a Shipping Label?

The information below applies to a standard USPS shipping label. Other carriers have pretty much the same data on their label templates but are just formatted differently.

What-Information-is-on-a-shipping-label
What Information is On a Shipping Label

1.

Service icon

This is the symbol for the service type used. The service icon can be one of the following:

P – Signifies priority mail. The maximum parcel weight is 70 lbs. and it can reach a US recipient in one to three days.

F – Indicates first-class mail. The maximum shipment weight is 15.99 lbs. and arrival is within one to three days.

E – Symbolizes priority mail express. The package may arrive overnight or in one to two days. 

– A solid block signifies the use of package services, which include parcel select, media mail, bound printed matter, library mail and retail ground. What are the differences between them?

Parcel select – A ground delivery service used by medium- and large-sized shippers. The parcel reaches a US recipient in 2-8 days. 

Media mail – This service is suitable for sending informational media like books, DVDs, CDs, videotapes, etc. They may reach a US recipient in 2-10 days.

Bound printed matter – The service is for sending large volumes of printed material that may be bound by staples, stitches, glue, etc. The parcel may reach a US recipient in 7-10 business days but can take three weeks.

Library mail – It is a bulk mailing service used by research institutions, libraries, etc. The shipment reaches a US recipient in 7-10 days.

Retail ground – This service is for non-urgent single-piece mail, which may reach a US customer in 2-9 days. However, it may sometimes take 14 business days, depending on the season.

– An empty block implies critical mail, a flat-rate delivery class for secure documents such as tickets, gift cards, etc. USPS discontinued this service in 2016.  

2.

Proof of postage payment

This area bears payment information, shipping date, parcel weight and shipping zone. It will indicate whether you paid postage at the post office or online.

The post office uses either metered postage or stamps. Online postage is evident when you see a smart code with the service provider’s logo beside it. This sample label was prepared using Stamps.com.

Take note of the shipping date indicated here. It is the date on which your carrier shall collect your package. If you’re sending similar packages routinely, you may want to prepare some of your labels ahead of time and postdate them.

3.

Service banner

This portion spells out the service type and subclass you used. In this example, the two-day priority mail subclass is indicated.  

4.

Sender's name and address

This information is necessary in case the package is returned. It is printed less prominently than the recipient’s information. It may indicate your store’s address or that of your 3PL provider.

5.

Ancillary service endorsements

This portion has information about some specific services requested, particularly, address service, change service and return service. In this example, return service is indicated, which corrects the recipient’s address and may reroute the mail back to the sender when it is undeliverable. 

6.

Recipient's name and address

This portion indicates the parcel’s destination and is more prominent than the return address.

7.

IMpb barcode

This has USPS’ regulatory barcode in it. We have earlier explained its significance.

8.

Area for additional information or customization

This portion has information that is not vital to the shipment service. You may customize it by putting your business logo or slogan, as in this example. Other shippers may allow customization in another part of the label.

Now that you’re familiar with your shipping label’s anatomy, you should be able to print one with ease.

What Are the Standard Shipping Label Sizes?

When you’re printing postage online, the standard label sizes that you’re allowed to use are 4″ x 6″ (the “4 x 6”) and  5.5″ x 8.5″ (the “half-sheet”). Rarely, a 4″ x 5″ or 4″ x 4″ is used, but they are not widely accepted.

Both the 4 x 6 and the half-sheet are appropriate for the following purposes:

    • Domestic shipments to private recipients
    • International shipments to private recipients
    • APO, FPO and DPO shipments for mail or care packages sent to the army, navy, and US embassies, respectively. Mail to these destinations can only be sent through USPS. The shipping label is landscape-oriented, so a reconfigured 4 x 6 or a half-sheet may be used.
Standard Shipping Label Sizes

The most important label size is the 4 x 6 because it is the most widely accepted by online mailing platforms. It is also big enough to contain all pertinent postage information, including the IMpb barcode.

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Dymo 4XL Shipping Labels

: 220 Labels/Roll
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What Printers Can I Use For My Shipping Labels?

Looking for helpful tips on how to print your own shipping labels? Because of the standard shipping label sizes, printers must have a print width of 4″ or wider. They can be any of the following: 

1. Inkjet Printer

You can use any inkjet printer as such machines can process sheet labels. However, printer ink is quite pricey and smudges easily on contact with moisture. Using these printers risks losing your shipping label’s scannability.

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2. Laser Printer

If you have a laser printer instead, you can print your shipping labels with that, too. However, toner is also expensive. Routine labeling with a laser printer may hurt your budget eventually if you’re already shipping dozens of packages daily.

3. Direct Thermal Printer
A Dymo LabelWriter 4XL printing a label

Direct thermal printers are business owners’ gadgets of choice for making shipping labels. They produce smudge-proof images. They do not use ink, but instead, the special paper they use changes color on contact with their heated print heads. You might find them cost-effective and efficient if you’re shipping dozens or hundreds of parcels daily.

If you intend to use this technology, know that not all direct thermal printers can produce the standard shipping label. This is because many of them have print widths less than 4″, and such printers are used for other functions like price tagging, product labeling, retail barcoding, etc.

Additionally, you would need one that is accepted by your preferred carrier’s website. American brands like Zebra and Dymo are compatible with most online postage sites in the US.

In terms of printer resolution, 203 dpi is enough for making barcodes and QR codes, including those used in shipping labels. Crisper prints are usually not necessary unless they have a special purpose.

For example, a resolution of 300 dpi is good for intricate business logos. A 600-dpi resolution is used mostly for tiny prints found in healthcare specimen vials. Higher-resolution machines are not only unnecessary for retailing and most other industries, but they are also relatively slower and more expensive.

Direct thermal printers may sometimes print lightly, but you can adjust your computer or mobile device settings to make them print darker images. 

Where On the Package Should I Place My Shipping Label?

After printing your postage sticker, you can attach it on any of your parcel’s prominent surfaces. Just make sure not to bend the label around edges or render any of its parts illegible. It is important to keep your shipping label readable to logistics personnel and scanners at all times.

Where On the Package Should I Place My Shipping Label

Other Important Tips to Keep in Mind

Aside from the above guide, you may want to take note of the following:

Other Important Tips to Keep in Mind

1.

Make Sure to Double-Check Pertinent Mailing Information

When you log on to your online postage account and prepare your shipping label, you will be asked to provide the following information:

  • The recipient’s address
  • Your return address
  • The parcel’s weight and declared value
  • Your preferred postage class
  • Additional services that you want
  • Your payment information

Review all these before printing your label to ensure their accuracy and prevent waste.

2.

Save Your Postage Sticker in PDF Form Just in Case

When you’re about to print your label, you can choose to do so immediately or save it in a PDF file first. You may want to do the latter just in case you encounter any troubles during printing. 

3.

Each Carrier Has Unique Policies on Using Labels for Special Handling

Suppose the parcel needs special handling, e. g. when it is fragile or flammable, your carrier may allow you to use additional labels to alert personnel. You can check your service provider’s website to see where you can place yours.

4.

You May Cover Your Shipping Labels

Some choose to leave their shipping labels bare to ensure visibility, and that is okay. However, others put plastic tape or stick a cellophane cover on top to keep them from getting damaged during transport. You can protect your shipping labels as long as the cover does not compromise readability.

You May Cover Your Shipping Labels

5.

Ship on Your Shipping Date

Make sure to schedule your pickup date on the day that you indicated on your shipping label. Failure to do so may trigger confusion and delays during transport, which will not make your customers happy. 

6.

It Is Best to Use White Labels and Print in Black

You may be tempted to print in color when using a multicolor printer, or even use colored labels. You are free to print your logo or slogan in color as it is not critical to shipment information, but your label should always be white. Pertinent mailing information is best printed in black on a white background to optimize contrast and ensure scannability.

It Is Best to Use White Labels and Print in Black

7.

You May Write Your Shipping Labels by Hand, But…

You are allowed to write your shipping labels by hand if you run out of the right-size ones. Other sizes will just not be compatible, and using them may only lead to printing errors and waste. However, if you write your postage stickers by hand, you will be missing out on the cost- and time-saving features of printing your own shipping labels. 

8.

A Packing Slip is Optional, But it is Also Good for Marketing

You may include a packing slip or a “waybill” in your parcel. Online postage providers have templates on their websites that you can fill out and print. The waybill may contain your customer’s order information, a receipt, parts checklist, etc. You can secure it anywhere beside your shipping label using a plastic covering. 

A Packing Slip is Optional, But it is Also Good for Marketing

How To Create Shipping Labels from MS Word, Excel, and Mac

Understanding the importance of labeling will help you create your own shipping labels. And to assist business owners, we have this guide on how to print your labels from MS Word, Excel and Mac using a Dymo printer.

Printing Dymo labels from a compatible Dymo LabelWriter printer is pretty straightforward. If you’re looking to print your labels, we have prepared a simple guide to help you out. It includes a step-by-step tutorial on printing a single Dymo label from Microsoft Word or multiple labels from Microsoft Excel and Mac.

(a) How to Print a Dymo Label from Microsoft Word

Once you install the Dymo software and drivers on your PC, it will include a Word Add-in application. Microsoft Word automatically installs this plug-in and integrates the Dymo Label tab on the main toolbar. With the Dymo Label tab, you can choose the text you want to print without creating a custom label template.

  1. Open Microsoft Word from your PC and then type in the text you want to print on your label
  2. Select the text you just typed in and click on the Dymo Label tab from the toolbar
  3. Open the Dymo Label Add-In box by clicking on “Print Label”.
  4. Find and select your Dymo LabelWriter printer and label layout from the “Select Printer” and “Select Label Layout” drop-down menus. 
  5. Click “Print” to start printing your label.

(b) How to Print Multiple Dymo Labels from Microsoft Excel

Dymo LabelWriter printers and their integrated software have numerous extra features that make label printing easier. One of them is the ability to set up and print an entire Excel sheet with only a few simple steps. This feature is very useful, especially if you’re trying to print numerous labels at a time from your printer.

  1. Open a blank document on Microsoft Excel. 
  2. Create a list that you can use for printing multiple labels on your Dymo LabelWriter printer. Remember to use each column to segregate all the necessary information you need to print. For instance, column A includes first names, Column B includes last names, and so on so forth. 
  3. After creating your list, click on “Save” and then exit Excel. 
  4. Go to the Dymo Label Software and select your label. For this guide, we’ll be using our Dymo 30256 white large shipping label
  5. From the Dymo LablWriter software, go to “Insert” and then select the “Address box”.
  6. Select and drag the address box to your label.
  7. Adjust the size of your address box according to your Dymo label
  8. Click and select the address box.
  9. Go to File > Import Data and Print > New and then click “Next” once a pop-up appears.
  10. Click on “Browse”, find and select your Excel file and then click “Open”.
  11. Click on “Next” and then choose your address box as the destination for your data fields.
  12. Drag and drop your columns to your desired output
  13. After setting up your Dymo Label, click “Next”. Please select your option for printing, whether it’s the entire list or specific entries.
  14. Click on “Print” and the Dymo LabelWriter printer will now starting printing the labels from your Excel file.
  15.  

(c) How to Print Dymo Labels from MacOS

Before you begin, be sure that the Dymo LabeWriter is already installed on your computer. It will help you gain access to numerous default label sizes from your Mac OS system. Without the software, setting up the proper label size would be difficult. 

  1. Go to the mac Preview application and launch your label. To open the print dialog, choose “File” and then “Print”.
  2. On the print menu, choose “Show Details” to view additional printing options.
  3. Choose the proper paper size – e.g., “4 x 6” for printing Dymo 1744907 4XL Shipping Labels.
  4. Click on “Print”, and the Dymo LabelWrinter printer will start printing your label.

Conclusion

Creating shipping labels is part of the nitty-gritty of business, and so printing them correctly is crucial. By following the above guide, you’ll see how to create shipping labels and find out that making your own postage stickers is easy. Doing so also allows you to reduce waste, increase your productivity and personally ensure your goods’ timely delivery.

At enKo Products, we help small businesses make inexpensive but quality customized packaging. We offer the following premium-grade materials at very low prices: 

    • Warehouse labels
    • Sheet labels
    • Direct thermal labels
    • Dymo labels
    • Brother labels

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can. You don’t really need a professional label printer to print high-quality labels, especially if you are only printing occasionally. This is also ideal for beginner shippers. All you need is a standard laser or inkjet printer and computer paper.

In fact, you can print one to two labels per one sheet of letter-size paper. The process of printing a shipping label on a regular printer is the same as printing any document. But after you print your label, you need to cut the excess paper before taping it to your packages.

Buying a half-sheet sticker paper for 4×6″ label sizes would also be more convenient if you want to keep on printing your labels on a regular printer.

Regardless of what type of package you are going to ship, you can easily print any kind of shipping label for free. Shipping services like UPS and FedEx already allow users to do this. For USPS, they used to offer postage-free label printing for Express and Priority mail services but this option is not available anymore. However, you can try Swordfish Express if you are a Mac user and USPS Shipping Assistant if you are a Windows user.

Printing postage-free labels is ideal for packages that don’t have actual weight measurements. It makes sure that you don’t overpay for the postage by going to a post office instead and having them weigh your package.

One obvious alternative would be to do it by hand. However, if you really need a printed label, you can write the details on a sheet of paper or save your label template on a USB flash drive and take it to a local shipping center. There, you can ask them to print your label for you. You can also use a friend’s printer or go to a printing shop.

 

For USPS labels, you can create a shipping label online through their Click-N-Ship service. After creating your label, an email will be sent to you containing the Label Broker ID. The last thing you need to do is go to a Post Office that supports USPS labels and have your label printed and attached to your package.

If you are only printing labels occasionally, the answer would be no. But if you are printing in batches or running a small business, printing your own labels will surely be less expensive. In fact, you will get more discounts and cheaper rates when you print a shipping label online compared to buying them outside.

 

Moreover, if you are printing shipping labels in bulk, it would be practical to use label rolls instead of sticker sheets. Buying your own thermal label printer that is designed for shipping labels can also be cheaper. Because, unlike sticker sheets, thermal label rolls are weather-resistant and more durable. This helps in minimizing your business’ expenses.

Printing shipping labels from your mobile phone is a very convenient method if you are running your business at home. You don’t need to stay in your house always just to print labels because there are a lot of online shipping services and mobile shipping apps that you can use to make the process easier.

You can check out Shyp, ShipStation, Shippo, ShippingEasy, and Ordoro but you can also use other apps that you are convenient with. If you already have a copy of your shipping label on your phone, you can also connect your phone to your printer and then print the label there.

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