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Published Sep. 27, 2021

Whether you have kids who fight over whose cup that is, need to tell the rosemary from the thyme, or just have sticker fever, get a label maker, stat! Once you have one, you’ll be addicted. That’s because knowing exactly what you’re looking at saves time, energy, and frustration. Get one of these bad boys and you’ll be slapping labels on the dog, the cat, and the kids—or more likely the soap, the hand sanitizer, and the hand lotion—faster than you can say Patti LaBelle.

When choosing the right label maker for you, things to consider include ease of use, how many fancy features you’d like (vs. a straightforward label maker that does what it says, nothing more, nothing less), and other things you’ve probably never thought about: like whether you can preview your labels on an LCD screen or print in different fonts. Get ready to have your label-lovin’ mind blown.

How We Picked the Products

Methodology

As a longtime product reviewer, I considered product materials, cost, adaptability, and more when compiling these recommendations for the best label makers. The main players in the label-making game are Dymo and Brother, so most of our picks are those brands. Both are trusted legacy brands, and both make loads of different models at different price points. Ease of use, price, and functionality were the biggest considerations, especially since some people buy label makers so they can put a cute, personal stamp on their lunch, while others need a hardy option that can mark and wrap around the input and output cables in your stereo system or factory.

  • Price: I chose relatively affordable options for every category, even the more expensive ones; a label maker is not a gadget that you need to spend a ton of dough on.
  • Battery power: Some people prefer regular batteries that you can buy at the drugstore; others like a rechargeable Lithium ion battery. I’ve included both types of models.
  • QWERTY vs. ABC keyboard: Dealer’s choice on this one: Some people prefer a standard QWERTY setup, while others who tend to hunt and peck might appreciate an ABC setup. I’ve included both options.
  • Extras: You can invest in just a label maker and then buy your batteries, tapes and other extras (like shrink tubes) separately. Or, you can opt for a label maker that comes with (among other things) a carrying case, tape cartridges, and a rechargeable battery and AC adapter.

Best Overall Label Maker: DYMO Label Maker with Adapter/LabelManager

Excellent Value

This affordable, portable, and rechargeable label maker has a display screen that lets you preview your label before it prints. DYMO

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Specs: 

  • Multiple font styles and sizes
  • Computer connectivity
  • Just .035 ounces

Why It Made The Cut: There’s a reason more than 30,000 Amazon reviewers gave this baby an average of 4.6 stars. It’s easy to use, operates quietly and doesn’t waste tape as it prints. We agree completely!

Pros:

  • Mid-range price
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Backlit display
  • Minimal tape waste

Cons:

  • Short label rolls
  • Compared with other models, not the most legible labels

Dymo was founded in 1958 as an embossing company and is now, along with Brother, one of the most respected names in label makers. More than half a century later, they’re still in the label game. The screen on this Dymo label maker is especially handy, because it lets you view up to four lines of text before you print. By connecting your labeler to a PC or Mac, you get additional fonts, logos, and graphics. 

It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, with big enough keys to make typing easy. The rechargeable battery is also a major plus, as you’ll never have to worry about running out at the last minute to fetch AAs. 

Possibly best of all, this one gives you the option of printing on multiple lines of tape (some models allow you to print only one straight line across). A save function allows you to store frequently used words and phrases so you don’t have to type them in again every time you want to print them. 

Best for Beginners: Brother P-touch, PTD210, Easy-to-Use Label Maker

Legacy Label Brand

This baby can print two lines on stickers up to 12 millimeters wide, and comes in at an affordable price. Brother

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Why It Made The Cut: If labeling things sparks joy for you, look no further: This one has 14 fonts, 10 styles, 97 frames, more than 600 symbols, and 27 templates for quick, fun designs. 

Specs:

  • Just 1 pound
  • Equally great on a desktop as on the go
  • Loads of personalization options

Pros:

  • Comes with tape (albeit only one roll)
  • So many design options

Cons:

  • A little bit bulky for on-the-go-use (it’s 6.2 x 2.7 x 5.9 inches)
  • Requires three AAA batteries
  • Wastes tape

The No. 1 complaint about Brother label makers is that they waste tape, meaning, they leave margins that are (subjectively) too big, causing you to use more tape than you need per use (and therefore requiring you to invest in more tape sooner). There’s no arguing that the price of the labeler is excellent, but you automatically need to invest in batteries and extra tape (though that still might make this one more affordable than some competitors). And an easy fix for the tape-waste problem is adjusting the margins, which you can set to “narrow.” 

This fun option from Brother is easy to use and a great gift for kids or new college students who want to label their stuff (so their roommates keep their grubby hands off it) while also putting their own personal style mark on it. All the different colors, symbols, borders and templates make labeling fun, not a drag. 

Best for Industrial Use: Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer

Heavy Duty

If your needs are more utilitarian than aesthetic—and you need something that can withstand a rugged workday, look no further. Brady

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Why It Made The Cut: This one is heavy duty enough to use in an industrial setting, and its adhesive labels are perfect for tough jobs, including wire marking and facility labeling. 

Specs:

  • USB connectivity
  • LCD screen displays text before printing
  • Sturdy construction
  • Weighs 1.61 pounds

Pros:

  • Molded rubber bumpers are impact-resistant
  • Prints in six font sizes
  • Features more than 100 symbols

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Requires six AA batteries (or you can buy a rechargeable battery separately)
  • Single-color printing

If you’re after something sturdy, dependable, easy to use, and great for creating industrial labels (and you don’t care particularly much whether you can add rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies to your labels), this 1.61-pound option from Brady does the trick beautifully. The machine is well-built, and unlike other label makers, it creates minimal label waste (saving you money in the long run). When it comes to those labels, they have super-strong adhesive, so they’ll stick easily to wires, cabinets, and anything with a rough or uneven surface.

A time/date stamp option comes in particularly handy, as do different-width tape cartridges (which are sold separately). On the downside, the keyboard isn’t backlit (the screen is), so working in dark conditions can be tricky; tape cartridges are sold separately; and if you don’t want to use regular batteries, you’ll have to invest in a pricey rechargeable battery and AC adapter. 

Best Wireless Label Maker: Brother P Touch Cube

Why It Made the Cut: Bluetooth, baby! At less than 2 pounds and wireless connectivity, it’s the perfect gadget to take on the go. After all, you never know when you might need to label something!

Specs:

  • Voice-to-text option
  • Special glitter and matte tape options
  • Loads of templates

Pros:

  • Use with computer or phone
  • Lightweight
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Not ideal for large projects

If you’re looking for a way to make projects on the go, the Brother P Touch Cube is a great option. Compatible with both laptops and your phone via Bluetooth, this wireless option is small enough to tuck in your bag and comes with a range of fonts, designs, and templates. While it’s not suitable for big projects, this label maker will get the job done quickly and easily at an affordable price. 

Best for Super-Sturdy Labels: Sanford Brands 1756589 RHINO 5200 Label Printer Kit

Long-Term Investment

This option is compatible with certain chemical- heat- and UV-resistant materials, so if making sure your label stays in place is important, this is a great choice. DYMO

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Why It Made The Cut: More on the hard-core utilitarian side than fun-stickers side of the labels spectrum—thought it does feature many fonts!—this one offers heat-shrink tubes, so that once you make a label, you can heat it so that it adheres to the shape of whatever you’ve stuck it to (like wires). They also allow you to bundle multiple things together (so your labels can double as rubber bands, albeit ones that aren’t rubbery).

Specs:

  • Extras, like a carrying case and two cartridges included
  • Weighs 2 pounds
  • Heat-shrink tubing option

Pros: 

  • Super-fast printing
  • One-touch hot keys for presets
  • Able to print barcodes

Cons:

  • Not cheap
  • A little heavy to lug around

This label maker kit from Sanford Brands is not for the casual label fiend but rather a professional who depends on labels to make their work safe and clear (e.g., on cables and patch panels). It costs more than some of its competitors, but includes label cartridges in multiple sizes, a user guide and quick-reference guide, an AC adapter carrying case, and a rechargeable battery. 

As with a lot of label makers, people complain of tape waste, along with certain missing symbols that might be helpful for professionals (like superscripts and subscripts). It’s not as easy to use as some simpler options, but if you need lots of options for labeling different things—including different widths—and don’t mind a slight learning curve on a complex model with loads of features, this could be exactly what you need. Just be careful: Even though this is very much an industrial model, it doesn’t have the protective rubber outer shell that others do, so if you drop it, you may break it.  

Best Value Label Maker: DYMO Label Maker with 3 Bonus Labeling Tapes

Compact and Lightweight

If you have the need to take your gadget on the go, this is the one for you! It’s portable and small enough to just pop in your bag. DYMO

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Why It Made The Cut: A clear LCD screen lets you preview 13 characters at a time, and the included magnetic holder means you’ll always be able to find the gadget that helps you always identify your other gadgets (and drawers and lotions and wires).

Specs:

  • Three tape cartridges included
  • Less than 30 bucks
  • ABC (not QWERTY) keyboard

Pros: 

  • Auto-off function saves power
  • Super easy to hold in one hand
  • Simple operation

Cons:

  • Some reports of tape jams
  • Labels may fall off too easily

The options on this Dymo label maker are terrific: multiple colors, styling options (like bolding and underline), five font sizes, 195 symbols, the ability to print on one or two lines, and a screen that shows you what your label will look like before you print. It can store up to nine labels in presets and is super quiet. 

This model takes four AA batteries (but doesn’t come with them included), which is likely a pro for some people and a con for others. (It’s better than needing, say, six AAA batteries, but maybe not as great as a rechargeable Lithium ion.) 

Tape jams are the most frequent complaint with this label maker, as well as some reports of labels not keeping their stickiness (which is, like, the whole point of a label). But for the price, especially if you’re new to label-making, this is a sound investment. And at just 3.5 by 6 by 12 inches and one pound, it won’t make a huge footprint on your counter or tabletop.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Label Maker

Is your main goal in buying a label maker to humor a teenager who has gotten territorial about what stuff is hers and what stuff is very definitely, absolutely not her little sister’s? Or are you an electrician whose ability to label different wires, outlets, fuse boxes, and more is the difference between a good day and a bad one? Some label makers are cute and fun; others are not particularly fun but get the job done quickly and effectively, and offer options (like shrink tubes) that someone who just wants to organize the spice rack doesn’t need. 

FAQs

Q: What are the best label makers?

Overall, Dymo and Brother are the two most highly rated and popular brands there are when it comes to label makers. But there are other brands (some that we’ve included here), like Epson and Brady.

Q: How much does a label machine cost?

You can spend as little as 20 or 30 bucks on a label maker or over $100 if you want Bluetooth or thermal functionality (which uses heat to transfer a label). If you’re buying your first label maker, start small and cheap—you can always get something more expensive and complicated later. Better to first see if you use it, and how easy you find it to operate.

Q: How do I choose a label maker?

Consider your budget, whether you want everything included (like batteries and tape cartridges), whether you prefer a QWERTY or ABC keyboard, and if you want loads of fun design and color options!

Final Thoughts

If what you’re after is a more organized life, a label maker is the first step toward making that dream a reality. Beyond that, we’ve picked an array of choices at multiple price points for everyone from the casual user to the design lover to the super-technical industrial worker. 

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