Shipping Labels 101: What Are Shipping Labels?


Shipping labels are critical components for accurately sending and receiving packages. Correctly labeled shipments help prevent the financial loss of a missing package or a dissatisfied customer. But what are shipping labels required to do? And how do you create them? This intro to shipping labels answers common questions about labeling packages and provides best practices for securing fast and reliable deliveries.

What Are Shipping Labels?

Shipping labels display essential information to identify and track packages during shipping. The data on a shipping label includes everything the carrier needs to get a delivery from Point A to Point B. Each carrier’s label is slightly different but contains the same general information:

  • Sender and recipient names and addresses
  • Package weight
  • Shipping class
  • Barcode(s)
  • Routing number
  • Tracking number
  • Other details as determined by the carrier

Do I Need a Shipping Label?

Yes, every package needs a shipping label. Although handwritten names and addresses are allowed, your shipment still needs a barcode label.

Any business organization that delivers physical goods absolutely needs shipping labels to manage logistics effectively and create the best customer experience.

Business Shipping Labels

Creating shipping labels for your company starts with determining which shipping services best meet your business needs. Each major shipping carrier offers specialty services and pricing structures. 

  • USPS®: The United States Postal Service is ideal for small packages.
  • UPS™: United Parcel Service is the best option for large or high-value deliveries or those needing emergency delivery services.
  • FedEx™: FedEx is likely the top choice for perishable items or express and overnight delivery options.

How to Create Shipping Labels

Following best practices when creating shipping labels helps ensure your package arrives at its destination as quickly as possible. Learn how to create shipping labels correctly to prevent delivery postponements and inaccuracies.

How Big Does a Shipping Label Need To Be?

The industry’s standard size for shipping labels is 4×6 inches, but depending on the carrier and a package’s dimensions, a different size may be required.

When determining the correct size label for your shipment, keep things in proportion. An ill-fitting label can cause delays and delivery errors. For example, folding a large shipping label over the edge of a small box might render the information unreadable by lasers and require manual input.

However, shipping labels can be too small, so even your most diminutive deliveries need packaging that can accommodate a label close to standard size. Likewise, oversized shipments don’t need a super-size label. A Goldilocks approach – not too big or too small – will help ensure your package’s barcode is scannable and pertinent information is easy for machine or human readers to decipher.

Does it Matter Where I Put the Shipping Label on a Box?

You can put shipping labels on the top or sides of a box. Ideally, it should be placed on the largest flat surface, so it’s not folded over any edges. If using the top of the box, it’s best to affix the label to one flap rather than spreading it over the seam.

How Much Are Shipping Labels?

Although it doesn’t cost anything to generate a shipping label online, you will need supplies like a printer, ink, paper or self-adhesive labels to physically produce it unless you go to the carrier’s location to print. And, of course, you must pay for the postage to send your package.

For businesses that already own an inkjet or laser printer, using self-adhesive sheet labels may be an economical choice. You can buy just a few sheets to start and print shipping labels in a convenient 8.5″ x 5.5″ size.

Businesses that require a higher volume of shipping labels may find it more cost-effective and efficient to purchase a direct thermal label printer and matching self-adhesive labels.

The best label suppliers, like Premium Label Supply, help keep costs down by offering

  • Bulk orders
  • Wholesale pricing
  • Multi-purpose thermal labels ideal for shipping, inventory and storage
  • Sheet labels for flexibility and convenience
  • Custom sizes
  • Individual and business orders
  • Free shipping on all orders
  • Private label services

Find In-Stock Shipping Labels & More at Premium Label Supply

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