Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Every office needs at least one label maker to keep it running efficiently. Being able to find properly labeled documents and goods quickly is key.
In addition to the expected monochrome thermal label makers, there’s been an explosion of innovation in label makers. Besides an astounding variety of specialty labels on which to print, you can now print labels with high-quality photos and images and even do it in color.
In fact, such a multitude of label makers are available today, aimed at different users, that it’s hard to differentiate them. This buyer’s guide will help by breaking them down into categories that fit your work style and lifestyle. In other words, to help you get the best one for you, we’ve compared dozens and picked the 10 best label makers.
Best Overall: Dymo LabelManager 420P
It may look like other handheld label printers, but DYMO’s LabelManager 420P delivers a lot for a little. At 2.2 × 8.5 × 4.4 inches and weighing just over 1 pound, it feels good in the hand and can print on a wide variety of labels in the choice of eight fonts and seven sizes, and it comes with more than 200 symbols and clip art images.
With enough internal memory to store up to 15 frequently used labels, its 180 dots-per-inch (dpi) thermal printing assures that everything will be readable. The 420P uses ¼- to ¾-inch-wide tapes held in DYMO’s easy-change D1 cassettes.
The beauty of the LabelManager 420P is that it does double duty. It can go from a handheld label maker with an ABC-style keypad for impromptu labels in the basement to a printer connected to a Windows or Mac computer for making address labels from a spreadsheet or database file in the kitchen. Its four-line backlit display shows a preview of what’s about to be printed, but the labels need to be manually cut free from the roll. It’s a minor inconvenience considering all the labeling tasks that the LabelManager 420P can fulfill.
Best Label Maker for Addresses: Brother QL1100
It may be among the most expensive label makers available, but the Brother QL-1100 leads in making wide-format labels that are perfect for addressing boxes and envelopes. Able to create a variety of creative labels that are up to 4.1 inches wide, the QL-1100’s thermal print engine works with rolls of stickers, prints in super-sharp 300 × 300 dpi resolution and automatically cuts labels to length. It makes designing a variety of labels a snap by picking the largest font that fits on the label and incorporating digital postage, putting everything on a single printed label.
Just as useful for making shipping labels for a small business as for addressing a PTA newsletter, the QL-1100 can churn out up to 69 labels per minute. It comes with a USB cable to directly connect with Windows, Linux, and Mac computers, but that’s just the start. With Brother’s free iPrint&Label app and a simple On The Go (OTG) USB cable that you’ll have to buy separately, the QL-1100 can print from many Android tablets and phones.
Highest Performance Label Maker: Brother QL-800
When speed matters most, Brother’s QL-800 label maker delivers with the impressive speed of 93 labels per minute, but with a colorful twist. Capable of printing labels for shipping, file folders or even name badges, it is perfect for those in a hurry. The QL-800’s 300-dpi thermal print engine makes pinpoint sharp labels, and if you use Brother’s DK-2251 specialty stickers, the QL-800 can print in black and red. This two-color printing can provide an extra dimension of design flexibility to make things like “No Smoking” signs or customized name tags really stand out. On the downside, the QL-800 tops out at a label width of 2.4 inches.
Still, the printer’s dimensions (4.9 × 8.4 × 5.6 inches) should easily fit on or beside a desktop. The included Brother P-touch label design software makes creating and pumping out labels simple and straightforward. It works with Windows and Macintosh computers and allows printing from Word, Excel, and Outlook. With Brother’s included iPrint&Label app and an OTG USB cable, it can print from many Android tablets and phones, making the QL-800 one of the most versatile printers around.
Best Wireless Label Maker: Brother P-Touch Cube Plus PT-P710BT
Brother’s P-touch CUBE Plus shows that good things really can come in small packages. At 7.8 × 8.2 × 0.4 inches and 14 ounces, the jet black CUBE Plus fits easily into a kitchen drawer, backpack, or jacket pocket. It can connect to a Windows or Mac computer using the included USB cable or via a Bluetooth wireless link with a tablet or phone using the iPrint&Label app.
It’s powered by a built-in lithium-ion battery that can be charged with the included USB cable with a computer or AC adapter. With the ability to tap into TrueType, Google or Apple fonts, it has infinite design possibilities, and the unit’s 180 × 360 dpi printing resolution is sharper than most competitors. As small as it is, the CUBE Plus is able to print on laminated tape up to 1 inch wide and comes with several thousand symbols and more than 300 predesigned templates for crafting, scrapbooking, light-switch labeling, and creative container tagging.
Most Creative Label Maker: Brother P-Touch PTD215E Embellish
The Brother P-touch Embellish PT-D215e is a tape printer with a big difference for those looking for a creative labeling outlet. It not only comes with 14 fonts, 90 borders, 400 symbols, and 25 background patterns but also can help set your labeling imagination free.
Able to print on tape that’s half an inch wide, it not only is good for marking drawers and boxes but also can give a scrapbook flair and style or make a birthday present look extra special. With dozens of ribbon tape styles available, the PT-D215e runs the gamut from mint or silver lace to gold geometric patterns or pink hearts and purple flowers. The hardest part will be choosing which one to use.
Its 180-dpi resolution printing process should be more than enough for marking a circuit breaker panel or labeling stocking shelves. The printer’s QWERTY keypad is effortless to use and has dedicated keys for picking the font or previewing the label on the device’s 15-character display. It’s powered by an AC adapter or six AAA batteries, neither of which are included with the PT-D215e.
Best for Color Labels: Brother VC-500W
While most label printers stick to black type, and a few can produce two-color output, the Brother VC-500W can create a variety of labels and tags in full color. Based on Zink technology, there’s no messy ink or ribbon to buy and change because the color chemistry is embedded in the labels. The output is colorful, realistic, and resists smudges, rips, and fading over time, making for a colorful alternative to boring labels.
Good for everything from an identifying name tag to artistic labels for jars of homemade pickles, it can print on labels that are 3/8, ½, ¾, 1, or 2 inches wide. Its drop-in tape cassettes make changing from one to another quick and easy.
The VC-500W not only automatically cuts the label to length but also can create a colorful banner up to 17 inches long. Once you’ve designed your stick-on masterpiece in the Brother Color Label Editor app, the VC-500W does the rest by wirelessly printing directly from Windows or Mac computers as well as tablets or phones.
Best Label Maker for Schools: Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo
With the ability to pump out labels up to 3.5 inches wide, the DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo offers a good balance between economy and ease of use for printing a wide assortment of classroom labels. In addition to marking files, science supplies, and cabinet doors, it can make readable name tags and address labels and even help personalize folders.
It may not be the fastest around, but the LabelWriter 450 Turbo can print in ultra-sharp 300-dpi resolution and deliver up to 51 labels per minute. It comes with a wide assortment of included templates.
Able to incorporate logos and barcodes into labels, the LabelWriter 450 Turbo can print from Windows and Mac computers as well as directly from within Microsoft Office apps or a Google address book. This means that it can save a lot of time when doing mass mailings or sending forms.
Best Economy Label Maker: Dymo LetraTag LT-100H Plus
DYMO’s LetraTag 100H Plus may be one of the least expensive label makers available, but it doesn’t skimp on features, abilities, and labeling possibilities. The device comfortably fits into a hand yet has the power to churn out a variety of tags that are up to half an inch wide in 180-dpi resolution. In addition to iron-on and embossed tags, the LetraTag 100H Plus has a unique heat shrink tube material that can be used by hobbyists to mark and insulate wires.
It comes with seven built-in print styles and nearly 200 symbols, as well as eight border styles, making the budget printer seem high-end. It not only allows two-line printing, but its 13-character LCD display also makes using the LetraTag 100H Plus a snap by showing exactly what will be printed before the thermal print head goes to work. The best part is that the LetraTag 100H Plus’s ABC-style keyboard allows for quick entry and has shortcuts for formatting, changing fonts, and printing the tag.
It’s powered by an AC adapter or four AA batteries, neither of which come with the label maker.
Best Portable Label Maker: Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Maker
Small enough to fit into a pocket but powerful enough to accomplish most labeling needs, the Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Printer is a mighty mite at 6.7 × 4.3 × 2.2 inches and 14 ounces. Able to print on a variety of ¾-inch-wide labels that range from iron-on and glow in the dark to clear and reflective printing stock, the LW-400 works in 180-dpi resolution.
The LW-400’s 16-character screen shows two lines at a time so that your design will always be perfect, and it can impart flair to humdrum labels with 14 fonts, 10 styles, and more than 300 symbols. The LW-400 can also handle logos, graphics, and barcodes as well as store up to 50 custom designs in its internal memory.
Powered by six AA batteries (not included), the LW-400’s QWERTY keypad can make quick work of anything from organizing a warehouse to marking a computer’s connection cables, but the labels need to be manually cut off after printing. The best part is that the LW-400 claims to be whisper quiet, making it the one to get for a library or video production studio.
For all it does, the LW-400 is a bantamweight with the punch of a heavyweight.
Best for Images: Phomemo M03
If combining type and images is your idea of a good label, then the Phomemo M03 is your kind of label printer. Available in five colors, the M03 uses a finely calibrated 203-dpi thermal print engine that can produce realistic black-and-white images that are head and shoulders above the competition. It connects to a computer, phone, or tablet via Bluetooth and has apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets.
Capable of printing labels of up to 3.2 inches wide, the Phomemo M03 automatically cuts the label free. It works with an astounding variety of materials, including transparent film and paper with gold or silver glitter, as well as adhesive-backed labels or paper that can be glued in place. It is the perfect way to mark boxes and shelves, create stick-on daily reminders and to-do lists, and visually mark what tools go where. A big bonus is its built-in, 2,200-milliamp-hour battery pack that lets it print without an AC outlet in sight.
By combining a good variety of fonts, designs, and images with the ability to print on labels from ¼ to ¾ inch, the DYMO LabelManager 420P is the most versatile label maker available (view at Amazon). It can be used on its own by typing on its keypad or be connected to a computer, providing an extra level of flexibility. Either way, the label can be previewed on the LabelManager 420P’s four-line LCD display so that typos and spelling errors will become a thing of the past. Unlike the competition, the label maker requires manual cutting of the label. Whether it’s for organizing stocking shelves, a library, or that stack of storage boxes in a warehouse, it is our first choice for completing a variety of labeling tasks with grace and ease.
What to Look for in a Label Maker
Handheld or Desktop
With two basic designs to choose from, your first decision should be whether to get a handheld label maker with its own keypad or a desktop model that connects to a computer. The former is often more portable, but the latter can produce a greater variety of output. Why settle? Some do both.
Many label makers offer the ability to run on battery power that provides the flexibility to print where you want, whether in the kitchen or the back of the classroom. Some printers are designed around single-use batteries that can be easily replaced, while others have rechargeable battery packs that need to be plugged in periodically to top them off. Before buying, check if the batteries and/or AC adapter are included.
Whether it’s a handheld stand-alone model or a computer-based label maker, the best printers come with a variety of fonts, premade designs, and symbols. Many can even print postage and barcodes, making addressing much easier.
The beauty of the thermal-printing process used by most label makers is the lack of messy ink, ribbon, or toner cartridges to buy and change. This extends to color printing using Zink technology, where the printing chemicals are embedded in the paper.
Sales of label makers are forecast to grow 4.2% annually through 2026, according to Mordor Intelligence.
How does thermal printing work?
The beauty of thermal print engines is that there are no messy inks, toners, or ribbons to replace because all the printing chemicals are inside the paper. The heat from the printing engine activates the chemicals, making them stand out from the background.
Does printing resolution matter?
Yes. Lower-resolution printers might produce labels that are fuzzy or not entirely readable from a distance. Look for a label printer that has at least 180-dpi resolution.
Do I need to have a keypad on my label printer?
It depends on what you’ll use it for. If you need labels for things like file folders and marking circuit breakers, then a keypad can help by letting you quickly print labels. On the other hand, connecting the label printer to a computer provides more creative flexibility for things like labels for homemade jam.
Is wireless printing worth it?
Yes, because there’s nothing like the feeling of freedom when you press the print key and the label maker starts up without a cable anywhere. Whether the label maker uses Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, wireless printing is becoming more popular.
Why Trust Investopedia?
Choosing these label makers was largely based on the author’s expertise and more than 40 years of printing labels for everything from addressing envelopes to marking the contents of storage boxes. A freelance writer and reviewer based outside of New York City, Brian Nadel has covered all aspects of the printer business—and had to replace his elderly label printer halfway through this story.
To compile this list, he started by breaking down the label maker category into 10 major sections based on use, price, speed, and material on which label makers can print. Together, they cover the full range of use today. After that, he explored the technical and operational details of dozens of label printers, comparing the major players, along with a few minor ones, to whittle down the list to the 10 best label makers available.