Glossary of Commonly Used Label Terms

Sometimes the jargon that label manufacturers use can be quite confusing. Here is a glossary of the commonly used label terms on If you have any questions, please contact us via phone at 800-750-7764 or by email at, and we will be more than happy to help you find the information and labels you need.

General Label Terms   -   Label Materials   -   Label Finishes   -   Label Adhesives

General Label Terms

Direct Thermal Printing

A type of printing method that does not use ink, ribbon or toner to print. Instead, direct thermal printing relies purely on heat-activation. The print-head heats the surface of a specially formulated thermal label material and as the heat is applied, the label reacts by blackening.

Thermal Transfer Printing

A type of printing method that uses a ribbon to print. As the label passes through the printer, the print-head applies heat to the ribbon. This heat causes the ribbon to melt ink onto the label's surface.

Flexographic or Offset Printing

A printing process where an inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket or roller and then to the desired printed material.

Digital Printing

A printing process that does not use plates, but instead transfers digital images to print via ink or toner. 

Label Materials
General Label Terms   -   Label Materials   -   Label Finishes   -   Label Adhesives

Our desktop printer labels are typically made using either polypropylene or paper material.


Polypropylene is a plastic-like material that, when used in label applications, creates a more durable, water and tear-resistant label. 

Features of Polypropylene Material:

      • Excellent Clarity
      • Clear and White Options
      • Water Resistance
      • Oil Resistance
      • Puncture Resistance
      • Does Not Wrinkle or Shrink
      • Durability Through A Wide Temperature Range


Our high-quality paper label stock is the most cost-effective label material and our most commonly used label stock. Paper labels from have bright white color and are excellent for indoor use.

Features of Paper Material:

      • Bright White Color
      • No Smear
      • Can Tear
      • Not Water Resistant

 Custom Label Materials

Our custom printed labels are available in a wide variety of label materials.

White Plastic BOPP (Polypropylene)

This polypropylene (plastic-like) based label material is durable, water and tear resistant and is recommended for both indoor and outdoor use. 

Features of White Plastic BOPP:

      • Outstanding Clarity
      • Bright White Base
      • Flexible and Tear Resistant
      • Water and Oil Resistant
      • Pearlescent Finish
      • Wide Temperature Range

Clear Plastic BOPP (Polypropylene)

Just like white plastic BOPP, this plastic-like label material is extremely durable and water resistant. The difference is that this label material is completely transparent. It's ideal if you want your label to look as though it is a part of your packaging, e.g. the "no-label" look.

Features of Clear Plastic BOPP:

      • Exceptional Clarity
      • Completely Transparent
      • Flexible and Tear Resistant
      • Water and Oil Resistant
      • Great for "No-Label" Look
      • Wide Temperature Range

Silver Paper - Chrome

This unique label material has an aluminum-like appearance with a bright mirror-like silver coating. It is exceptionally weatherproof and durable, making it ideal for any outdoor application.

Features of Silver Chrome Paper:

      • Aluminum-Foil Like Chrome Appearance
      • Extreme Durability
      • Ideal for Outdoor Use
      • Weatherproof
      • Paper Material

Silver BOPP - Chrome (AKA Brushed Silver Polyester)

An even more durable version of the silver chrome paper is the polypropylene based material. 

Features of Silver BOPP Chrome:

      • Aluminum-Foil Like Chrome Appearance
      • Highest Level of Durability
      • Ideal for Outdoor Use
      • Weatherproof
      • Tear-Resistant
      • Shrink-Resistant
      • Polypropylene Material

Laser Paper

A paper material that is created for use in inkjet or laser printers.

Features of Laser Paper:

      • Works With Laser or Inkjet Printers
      • Paper Material

Label Finishes
General Label Terms   -   Label Materials   -   Label Finishes   -   Label Adhesives


Dull, flat and without shine or sheen. Retains the original material's characteristics.


Clear and shiny. Gives a glossy sheen to the original material.


A thin layer of film that is used to provide an actual plastic barrier between the label and the environment. Laminates are available in gloss, matte and printable variations. A laminate will typically provide extra sheen when compared to varnishes.

Features of Laminate:

      • Thin, Plastic Film
      • Most Protective Finish
      • Prevents Label Scuffs
      • Adds Durability to Label


A liquid coating that is printed onto the label surface that protects the label from scuffs. A label with gloss varnish will appear to have an enriched, glossy appearance as compared to that of gloss laminate labels. 

Features of Varnish:

      • Liquid Coating
      • Protects From Scuffs
      • Enriched Label Appearance
      • Glossy Sheen

Thermal Transfer Printable

A coating that is applied to the label that allows it to be used in a thermal transfer printer. Common uses include variable barcodes, ingredients or product names. 

Features of Thermal Transfer Printable Finish:

      • Able to be Used in Thermal Transfer Printers
      • Protective Coating
      • Available in Varnish or Laminate

UV Outdoor Gloss Laminate

The most durable of label finishes, this gloss laminate is used to provide the ultimate protection for labels. It will protect from scuffs and provide UV protection for up to 2 years, making it ideal for rugged, outdoor applications.

Features of UV Outdoor Gloss Laminate:

      • UV Protection for Up to 2 Years
      • Ideal for Outdoor Application
      • Protects Against Scuffs
      • Most Durable Label Finish

Label Adhesives
General Label Terms   -   Label Materials   -   Label Finishes   -   Label Adhesives


Permanent adhesive is a strong, aggressive adhesive that is resistant to water, oils and weathering and is difficult to remove. It is the ideal choice for any type of long-term adhesion.

Features of Permanent Adhesive:

      • Long-Lasting
      • Very Aggressive
      • Resists Water, Oils and Weather
      • Difficult to Remove

Removable Adhesive

Removable adhesive is adhesive that is less aggressive than permanent adhesive and may be removed easily. It may be replaced after removal, but will quickly lose its adhesion with many replacements. It does not require adhesive remover to remove from surfaces.

Features of Removable Adhesive:

      • Adheres Strongly to Surfaces
      • Is Easy to Remove
      • Limited Replaceability
      • Does Not Require Adhesive Remover to Remove
      • Does Not Leave Sticky Residue Behind


Non-Adhesive has no adhesive qualities. Labels with non-adhesive will function like ordinary paper stock.