What is the best way to print shipping labels?

There are many different methods to print shipping labels for home or business use. Some are better for occasional shippers, while others only make sense for those who need to ship multiple parcels every day or week. We’ll help you find the best method for your needs.

Whether you’re sick of writing out mailing addresses by hand or you’re starting to ship enough parcels that your home printer just can’t keep up, take heart—there’s a better way. Once you know what you need, it’s not too hard to find a solution that will work better for you.

What are your shipping needs?

Think carefully about what you ship and how often you ship it. 

  • Just a few occasional parcels: If you just send out a few parcels for the holidays or you’ve got a minor side hustle, you can get away with handwriting directly on your packages. But if that’s too much hassle (or your handwriting isn’t quite A+ material), you can get away with a standard home printer.

  • Sporadic shipping of multiple parcels: If your retail seasons are bigger than most or you require shipping a large number of parcels every now and then, you definitely need to use a printer, though most likely you’ll do fine with a standard home or office model and label sheets. It’s also a good idea to look into shipping software like PitneyShip, which can make it much simpler to print batches or handle postage.

  • Regular shipment of multiple parcels: Now you’ve graduated from small-scale printing, so it’s time to look into getting a dedicated label printer like the SendPro®/PitneyShip™ Desktop SendKit. They‘re fast, reliable, much less wasteful than regular printers, and easy to integrate with PitneyShip and other shipping software.

If you foresee changes coming up on the horizon, you may want to consider getting a little ahead of the game so you’re ready when business starts to pick up.

Shipping with handwritten labels

If you’ve decided you don’t need anything more than your favorite Sharpie, your task is simple, if laborious. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Keep it legible: A steady hand is a lifesaver here. Keep all address information clear, bold, and easy to read. Ask friends and colleagues to check over your labels and give you feedback.

  • Protect your labels: Even if it’s not raining where you live, it’s sure to be raining somewhere—and that’s not even the worst thing that can happen to your labels! Use clear, protective tape over all handwritten labels to keep them legible until they reach their recipients.

  • Don’t overdo it: Remember to take breaks if you’re doing more than a few. When your eyes start to blur or your hand cramps, it’s time for a cup of coffee—and maybe time to reconsider using PitneyShip.

Creating labels on standard home or office printers

Printing address labels yourself is pretty straightforward, as long as you don’t have to print too many. There are still some common pitfalls you should avoid:

  • Make sure it’s easy to read: Just because it’s printed, that doesn’t mean a mail carrier (or scanner) won’t struggle with it. If your label uses a small typeface, or a funny-looking one that’s hard to read at a glance, you should consider doing whatever it takes to make it easy on everyone between you and your recipient. Bigger fonts, bigger labels, and clearer font choices can all make a huge difference.

  • Protect your labels: Just like handwritten labels, those printed on standard desktop printers can suffer from rain or other environmental issues. Use clear, protective tape over your labels and you should be fine.

  • Use label sheets when possible: Cutting around the edges of your shipping label might be charming the first time—but after your first dozen or so, you’ll wish you could just peel them off. One caveat: if you’re going to run a lot of these (hundreds or more), you will be inflicting a bit more wear and tear than with regular paper. If you print that many, it’s time to think about a specialized label printer like the SendPro®/PitneyShip™ SendKit.

Printing shipping labels with a specialized printer

This is the gold standard for folks who ship every day or send out large sets of packages with any regularity—up to 50 parcels per week. Though there’s an upfront cost to acquiring a new printer and blank label rolls, many find it less expensive in the long run thanks to time and effort saved, as well as less spent on desktop printer maintenance. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Software is essential: When you’re printing this many labels, you’re going to need a software package like PitneyShip to keep it all organized. This can often pay for itself very quickly in reduced postage rates, but having fewer errors and simpler labeling are very nice in and of themselves.

  • Double-check every label: This can feel like a hassle, but it’s well worth it. Even with the right software, a simple data entry error can make your life more difficult than it needs to be, so check every time. When you do finally catch an error, you’ll be glad you did.

  • Consider printing return labels: If you’re sending out shipments to customers, it can be very handy for you to include return labels. These give you control over shipping provider and costs, and of course makes life much easier for your customers. PitneyShip makes this very easy.

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