Label Selection and Printing Guide

Whether you are writing by hand on labels, using thermal transfer, direct thermal, laser or inkjet printers, it is important to understand the differences between the many various types of labels available. This printer guide and the selection chart below will help you navigate and decide which labelling solutions are best suited for your application.

Some things you should consider when choosing labels:

1) What type of container am I trying to label? 

Microscope slides, vials, racks, microcentrifuge vials, bottles, paraffin blocks

2) Do I require any special features? 

Transparency, lamination, adhesive type, wrap-around, blackout (cover-up), RFID

3) What conditions will the container be subject to? 

Chemicals, cleaning, cryogenic freezing, autoclave

4) What printing method and format is available? 

Thermal Transfer, Direct Thermal, DYMO, Laser, Inkjet, write-on 

Thermal Transfer Printing


See our range of GoDEX Printers and ribbons 

Thermal-transfer is the gold standard of printing methods as it provides the most versatility and resistance. The technology works by heating a ribbon to transfer ink onto the label. When printing your own labels in-house, using thermal-transfer ribbons made of resin provides the most resistance against harsh solvents (e.g., Xylene and DMSO), cold storage, extreme temperatures, high-pressure sterilization, smudging, and scratching. These printers use rolls of labels and print using a thermal ribbon in only one color (commonly black). Thermal-transfer printing provides the most options for different label materials, so you’re highly likely to find the product you need by sticking with thermal-transfer as your printing method. Moreover, most automated tube and plate labelers use thermal-transfer technology to print their labels (Source: GA International)

All Thermal Transfer Labels

Direct Thermal Printing


See our range of GoDEX Printers  

Direct thermal printers use rolls of labels coated with a leuco dye which changes colour when heat is applied. A ribbon is not required to print direct thermal labels but the only printing colour available is black. Direct thermal labels are prone to fading over time, especially with exposure to chemicals, and are not compatible with sterilisation due to the leuco dye.

DYMO is a brand of direct thermal printers that use label rolls with unique markings and layout that make them printable with DYMO printers. Make sure you select labels that are compatible with the model of your DYMO printer.

All Direct Thermal Labels


Laser Printing


Label sheet templates for MS Word

Laser desktop printers use toner cartridges to produce a smudge-proof, waterproof, UV-resistant, and cryogenic-resistant printout with various colours. Labels printed with laser printers are not recommended for chemical exposure unless there is a protective layer on top of the printout.

All Laser Labels

Inkjet Printing


The inkjet print head has several tiny nozzles, also called jets which spray ink as the label moves past the print head forming the characters and imagesInkjet ink is water-based, so prints are susceptible to water damage and fading. Inkjet cartridges need frequent cleaning and can be wasteful of ink when performing maintenance, they are also slower compared to laser printing.

All Inkjet Labels

Write-on Labels


Write-on labels come in sheets, rolls and as tape and are for use in a wide range of use in different conditions. They can be used with varying forms of laboratory pens and markers, these include histology markers, cryogenic markers, solvent resistant pens, teeny writers, pencils, ball-point pens and solvent ink markers.

All Write-On Labels

Choosing the label that is best for your application: