Unlocking the best practices of packing and labeling packages and boxes for shipping brings many rewards. Read our guide about how to label a box for shipping and explore a variety of high-quality labels to make your shipping process a breeze. 


Source: Pexels

While a shipping label seems like a simple sticker, it contains important details that, when overlooked, could spell shipping disasters and financial losses. An error such as wrong addresses could cause delays and problems in the package delivery and, as a domino effect, customer dissatisfaction. On the other hand, seamless shipping could result in customer satisfaction, good reviews, and potentially repeat orders. 

This article outlines the salient elements and steps on how to label a box for shipping. Suppose you are starting a business through e-commerce platforms. In that case, you will benefit from reading this guide, so you get everything covered, including the important aspects that you need to learn before delving into the world of shipping, where shipping labels hold a very vital role. If you are an established business, you will find additional tips in this article that are helpful as you continue to find innovative ways to boost your business.  

What is a Shipping Label?

Before we proceed to the steps on how to label a box for shipping, let us first deconstruct the shipping label and its elements. A standard shipping label comes in standard formats issued by major carriers such as the USPS, UPS, and FedEx. The formats differ per carrier but incorporate the crucial information necessary to transmit a package from origin to destination.

Here are the important elements in a shipping label.


Source: Ubuy

  1. Sender Name & Address or Return Address. The sender’s name and address contain information about the sender and serve as a return address in case of non-delivery of the package.
  2. Recipient Name & Address. Major carriers verify the recipient’s name and address to ensure the delivery address exists and the package goes to the right destination.
  3. Package Weight and Item Details. Package weight and item details inform the carrier of how much the box weighs and the contents of the package to ensure the safe transport of certain products such as fragile and hazardous items.
  4. Unidirectional Code. When scanned into a machine, the unidirectional code or Maxicode transmits important details about the package.  
  5. Routing Code. A Routing Code contains information about the package’s route in the carrier’s facility. 
  6. Postal Barcode. The postal barcode serves as the carrier’s scannable code that contains the recipient’s zip code, and it also helps track the shipping status of packages.
  7. Service Type. The shipping method, such as Standard, Express, Priority Mail, NDD, etc., provides the standard number of days for delivery.
  8. Tracking Number. Tracking numbers are unique numbers issued by carriers to help customers track their packages online. 

Shipping labels are auto-generated into the standard format by your carrier’s software. If you provide accurate information, you should be well on your way to printing your shipping labels. 

Learn more about shipping labels from our blog What is a Shipping Label & How to Make One.

Direct Thermal Shipping Labels

: 250 Labels/Roll
: 4″ x 6-1/2″
: Direct Thermal

How do I Label a Package for Shipping?


Source: Enko

This article covers how to label a box for shipping in two ways. You can label a package for shipping using pre-printed labels from your home or office. The first option is to purchase a shipping label from your carrier’s office. The second option is to create the shipping labels through your carrier’s online platform or third-party shipping label generators. 

Purchasing Shipping Labels at Your Carrier's Office

Purchasing shipping labels at your carrier’s office is the easiest method to get a label and ship a package. It is expensive since you are paying for the labels at retail prices. It is time-consuming since you have to fall in line with other shippers. But, you get the assistance that you need when filling up the labels. 

Creating Shipping Labels Online (Carrier or Third-Party)

Once you have an idea of how to label a box for shipping, you can opt to create your shipping labels through your carrier. Go to your carrier’s website and create a shipping label. Some of the carriers allow users to create shipping labels online. Here are their websites.

You can also print shipping labels through various e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Etsy. These platforms also offer shipping discounts. 

Here are the steps on how to label a package for shipping. 


Pick Your Mailers/Box

Before learning how to label a box for shipping, you must first select the type of mailer or box appropriate for the item you are shipping. Carriers require the correct packing and labeling of items to ensure safe transport. Choosing the right packaging for the corresponding items is important to prevent damage. Here are some of the mailers you can use when shipping small-volume items. 

  • Poly mailers. These are lightweight and durable mailers made from plastic or polyethylene that can protect the contents from moisture, tear, and dirt in transit. They take up less space and cost less than the other mailers. These are suitable for shipping clothing, apparel, and other textile products. 
  • White-mailer bulk envelopes. These are standard flat envelopes in various sizes made from cardboard paper. These are suitable for mailing documents or photos.   
  • Padded envelopes. Padded envelopes are paper envelopes reinforced with bubble wrap, foam, paper, or padding to cushion the contents. These are suitable for small and light items that require minimal protection, such as C.D.s, books, documents, or jewelry. 
  • Bubble mailers. Bubble mailers are envelopes padded with a thick layer of bubble wrap or foam. The padding cushions fragile objects from damage or scratches during transit. These are suitable for fragile items. 
  • Carton box. Carton boxes are suitable when shipping large volumes and large objects. These are also the best option for shipping fragile objects. Boxes offer protection but can fold on pressure and may tear due to moisture. Additional protection, such as bubble wraps, styrofoam, foam, or nuggets, is required to keep objects in place and protect the objects from damage.   
  • Mailer tubes. Mailer tubes are cardboard tubes suitable for posters and documents. These mailers protect documents from crumples, folds, and tears during transit. 


Choose Your Labels

A crucial part of learning how to label a box for shipping is choosing the paper to print your labels. Printing labels is applicable when using pre-printed labels. If you purchase a label from the carrier’s office, you can skip this step. 

A standard shipping label size is 4″ x6″ for specialized printers and 8.5″ x11″ for regular inkjet or laser printers. Here are papers you can use to print shipping labels generated by your carriers. 

For regular printers, you can use any of the following papers. Adjust the Page setup to 8.5″ x11″ paper size when printing.

Source: Enko

  1. Letter-size (8.5″ x11″) regular paper
  2. letter size (8.5″ x11″) sticker paper
  3. Half-size (8.5″ x5.5″) regular paper
  4. Half-size (8.5″ x5.5″) sticker paper

For specialized printers, you can use the following self-adhesive labels to label boxes for shipping as easy as print, peel, and stick. Adjust the page setup to 4″ x 6″ paper size when printing. There are different types of shipping labels for different printer types. Specialized printers that print 4″ x 6″ shipping labels are usually thermal printers that use heat instead of ink and toner to create images in a heat-sensitive media. 

Lear more about your choices from our blog: What’s the Best Printer for Shipping Labels? Your Top Choices

4" x 6" Shipping Labels in Rolls

  • For Dymo 4XL LabelWriters, you can use the Dymo 1744907 Shipping Labels, which are perfectly sized into 4″ x 6″ and comes in a roll of 220 labels. These labels come in different colors, such as cyan, yellow, red, orange, green, and white. The brilliant colored labels are perfect for warning shipping markings such as “Fragile,” “This side up,” and other important labels that require attention. 

Brother DK-1241 Shipping Labels

: 200 Labels/Roll
: 4″ x 6″
: Brother DK Printers
  • 4″ x 6″ shipping labels in stacks

Source: Enko

Aside from rolled labels, you can also get thermal shipping labels that measure 4″ x 6″ in fan-folded versions instead of rolled. The stacked versions are perfect for Rollo and other thermal printers for shipping labels. 


Address Your Labels

After choosing a label, the next step in how to label a box for shipping is to place the correct addresses accordingly. 

After choosing your package and labels, you can place the address on the labels. You can print or write your labels. 

How to label a box for shipping by hand?

When writing a hand, choose a pen or marker that marks legibly and does not leak, bleed, or smear. Place the sender’s name and address in the upper left corner of the label and the recipient’s name and address at the center of the package. Review the details to make sure you have correctly placed and written the address. 

How to label a box for shipping by printing?

When printing a label from your home, follow the steps of the shipping label platform or software you are using. Enter the appropriate information in the appropriate fields to avoid errors. Check the details before printing your labels.


Attach Your Labels

To properly attach your labels to an envelope or mailer, place it flat on the surface with the top side of the label on the top part of the envelope. 

To properly attach your labels to a box, place it flatly on the box on top without touching the opening and the seam or on the side with the top side of the label on the top part of the box to make sure the top part of the box is up and does not get overturned. Ensure the barcodes and Q.R. codes are flat, uncovered, smear-free, and readable by scanners. 

To properly attach labels on a mailer tube, place the label horizontally and wrap it around the surface of the tube. The barcodes should be flat and not curved for readability.


Identify and Mark Hazardous Materials


Source: Enko

Another important detail on how to label a box for shipping is to place information about items with chemical contents to inform the carrier that they are not sending hazardous materials. Follow federal regulations in the proper packing, labeling and shipping of chemical materials. Attach a material data sheet for shipping chemical products. As a general rule, remove items that contain the following hazardous materials. 

Class 1: Explosives. This class covers ammunition, fireworks, model rocket engines, and fuses. 

Class 2: Gases. This class covers aerosols, inflators, and air tanks. 

Class 3: Flammable Liquids. This class lists varnishes, gasoline, paints and inks, some cosmetics and perfumes, alcohol, and fuel. 

Class 4: Flammable Solids. This class covers matches and signal flares.

Class 5: Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides. This class outlines swimming pool chemicals, nitrates, peroxides, and oxidizing liquids.

Class 6: Toxic Materials and Infectious Substances. This class includes flea collars, tear gas, arsenic, potassium cyanide, irritating gas materials, parathion, used needles, items containing etiologic agents, and medical devices.

Class 7: Radioactive Materials. This class covers all products with a radioactive warning label.

Class 8: Corrosives. This category covers batteries, chlorine bleach, drain cleaners, mercury, and acids. 

Class 9: Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials. This class includes magnetized products, lithium-ion batteries, self-inflating lifesaving devices, lithium and dry ice. 


Ship, Track, and Deliver

If you used pre-printed labels, your next step is as easy as scheduling a pick-up with your carrier, which will ship your package. 

If you opted for purchased labels, your next step is to drop your package at your carrier’s office. 

How do I Label a Cardboard Box for Shipping? (Tips) 


Source: Enko

Aside from the tips on how to label a box for shipping outlined in the previous section, here are additional tips to make sure your package gets shipped safely. 

  1. Use the carrier’s shipping labels only when shipping for a specific carrier. For example, use USPS shipping labels when shipping through USPS and FedEx labels when shipping through FedEx. 
  2. Some carriers, such as FedEx, will require special label marking such as yellow and black safety heavyweight labels over the diagonal corners of the box for packages weighing more than 32 kg (70 lbs.).
  3. Place shipping information (sender and recipient addresses) inside and outside the box. Do not use a P.O. box address for U.S. recipients to ensure the safe delivery of products. 
  4. When using recycled boxes, remove or cross out any old shipping labels and other labels in the outer part of the box.
  5. Shipping labels must be attached facing the same direction on the same side of the package. For example, place the labels vertically according to the “This side up” marking. 
  6. Avoid placing the labels along the corner or seam of the box. 
  7. Place shipping labels on the side of the box with the largest surface evenly. This placement makes sure the carriers handle the boxes according to the preferred orientation.
  8. Attach additional labels accordingly. These additional labels include markings such as “Fragile,” “Dry Ice,” “Perishable,” “Exempt Human Specimen,” or “Exempt Animal Specimen,” and others. 
  9. Check with your carrier for additional labeling requirements. 

Can I Write my Shipping Label?

You can write your shipping label. Write all information legibly and clearly to ensure the proper delivery of your package. When you drop off your package in its office, the carrier will print the appropriate barcodes and Q.R. codes. Consult your carrier on how to label a box for shipping by hand to ensure you do not skip any details. You can check your carrier’s website or ask for assistance from the office. You can also enter your search query, i.e., how to label a box for shipping UPS or how to label a box for shipping USPS, in your browser.

Labeling your Shipment

Learning how to label a box for shipping is one of the steps to ensure seamless transactions between you and your customers. We also found that printing shipping labels using a trusted label printer can dramatically reduce your shipping woes. If you want to learn more about pre-printed shipping labels, you can read our article here.

Like & follow our social media pages to see more updates and promotions !

Leave a Reply