One satisfying way to get ahead of staying on task during the school year: Reorganize your supplies and workspace at home with the help of a label maker. These devices make it easy to DIY customized, self-stick adhesive strips for practically any purpose. The possibilities are endless: You can label binders to identify them by subject, add tabs to planners, and even emblazon your child’s perennially misplaced lunch box with their name. At home, paste labels onto drawers and files to help tidy up your growing archive of artworks, notes, and documentations. Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite label-making products. But proceed with caution: Once you get your hands on one of these, you might not be able to stop.
How we pick each product:
Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.
1. DYMO Label Maker with Adapter
Control freaks, rejoice! This label maker from the grandfather of the industry offers plenty of customization options for the pickiest labelers out there. It’s capable of printing 7 text sizes, 10 formatting styles (e.g., bold, italics, underlines), 8 fonts, and more than 200 symbols and clip-art images—and those are just the onboard offerings. If you connect the 420P to your PC or Mac with the included USB cable, it can print practically any font, design, or barcode you can whip up, so long as it fits on the tape. (And, by the way, it works with tape widths: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, and 3/4 inch.) It has a decent memory, storing up to 15 designs, and can run off 10 high-quality copies of a single design in one printing. Plus, for its countless offerings, the Dymo 420P remains portable and easy to use. Finally, the cherry on top: Unlike other handheld label makers out there, it’s rechargeable, so your days of blowing through batteries are over—at least when it comes to this device.
2. Brother P-Touch Label Maker
At a fraction of the price of our top pick, Brother’s label maker is easy to use and an extraordinary bargain for its myriad offerings. Choose from more than 14 fonts, 97 frames, and 600 symbols to make a custom label, or select one of the 27 preprogrammed templates. You can store up to 30 of your designs, thanks to a roomy memory card, and print patterns like flowers and polka dots. The results are routinely crisp and clean; you won’t get the pixelated, mealy prints of some of this device’s price peers. It boasts a full QWERTY keyboard yet is still relatively lightweight and portable. Just be advised: It runs on six AAA batteries (not included) or via household current and AC adapter, sold separately.
3. DYMO Embossing Label Maker
Have a home project but can’t stand the staid, word-processed aesthetic of most modern label makers? Hark back a half century with this analog label maker, a contemporary revamp of Dymo’s classic tape embosser. The main difference is in the name: Rather than create labels through thermal transfer, the Dymo wheel embosses tape to create a textured and very vintage effect. Beyond choosing among the three provided colors of tape, don’t expect to be able to customize your labels—Dymo offers just one font (set in all capitals) and one sizing option.
4. Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker
Don’t get intimidated by the sleek, faceless design: All you’ll need to work this bad boy is a smartphone (compatible with iPhone or Android) and a Bluetooth connection. Just open up the free P-Touch app, which lets you start from scratch or choose from a bevy of predesigned templates. You’ll have 450 symbols and more than 60 frames at your fingertips, plus most of the fonts available on Apple devices or Google Suite. Like the PT-D210, this Brother is compatible with all Brother TZe line tapes up to a half-inch wide. If speed and convenience are your top criteria, look no further, but if you’re prioritizing quality and cost efficiency, you may want to think twice: The Cube’s prints sometimes look a bit grainy, and it tends to go through ink and tape rather quickly.
5. Brady BMP21-Plus Handheld Label Printer
This sturdy, nearly indestructible label maker is great for on-site jobs: This model is made with molded rubber bumpers, and Brady has tested it to withstand shock and vibration. With more than 100 symbols and fonts ranging from 6 to 40 points in size, it offers plenty of options for creating customized labels. It runs on six AA batteries, but you can separately purchase a rechargeable lithium-ion battery if desired. Also available separately is a magnet you can use to mount the label maker on a metal surface for one-handed use or convenient storage.