What is Label Tape?

S. Gonzales

Label tape is a very specific type of adhesive tape. It is often characterized as having a smooth, plastic-like, but writable surface. Its adhesive is usually resin-based and the tape can come in many different colors. The tape can be used anywhere where labeling and organization of items is needed. It is often seen in libraries and offices on files, folders and books.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Hospitals and laboratories use label tape to mark and organize specimens for reference. It's not uncommon to see label tape on test tubes, beakers or other containers with glass surfaces. Because the tape has a history of being used in laboratories, it often comes with a high-resistance functionality. The tape is usually made to resist extreme temperature, strongly adhere to surfaces and avoid smudging. Label tape can commonly withstand a wide temperature range of 250ºF (21ºC) down to -99ºF (-73ºC).

The surface of label tape can be written on with solvent markers, ballpoint pens and even pencils. The chosen writing utensil usually doesn't factor into the readability of the tape unless the utensil writes very lightly. Writing on label tape can remain legible even after coming into contact with potentially compromising materials like oils, water, moisture or acids. Repositioning the tape is also something that can be done with ease.

Labeling tape can be used outside of industry, too. Many people use it as a tool for home organization. Whether the tape is used on storage boxes or pantry items, it goes a long way, especially since the tape can peel off without leaving a sticky residue or other evidence that it was was once there.

Though labeling tape is a very tough and utilitarian tool to use everywhere from business to home, there are also certain precautions that should be taken before its use. Cleaning surfaces so that they are immaculate increases the longevity of the tape's adhesive. Applying the tape to a dirty surface is the same as applying the tape to whatever substance is on the surface and users who do this soon see the tape peel off by itself.

The tape can be made even more accessible if a dispenser is bought to compliment it. Using a dispenser can save users the hassle of having to measure out and cut specific lengths of tape at a time. It can also result in making the label tape more portable. While special label tape dispensers are often marketed to the public, the tape can usually fit into regular tape dispensers.

Discussion Comments


I like to use laminated label tape when making tags with my label maker. I just type in what I want the label to say on the keyboard, and the machine spits it out on a laminated label.

I have used the machine to make bracelets for several fundraising events. The people who pay to get in wear these bracelets so that security can tell who has walked in legally or illegally.

I just make the labels long enough to go around a large wrist, and this size can accommodate everyone. The lady at the ticket booth wraps the laminated labels around people’s wrists and sticks them together at the ends.


Wow, I had no idea that label tape could endure such extreme temperatures! It’s good to know, because I am about to have to put a bunch of my stuff in storage, and the units are not climate controlled.

Instead of having to tape paper labels onto every plastic tub, I’m just going to use label tape. I figure that I will save a little money by doing this.

I am a really organized person, so I have all my stuff arranged alphabetically. I will be writing, “A-C, D-F,” and so on, so labels will be very helpful when I need to find something.


I have several prescription drug bottles that are covered in clear label tape. The label itself is white, but the tape laminating it is clear.

Most of the writing is in typed form on the label beneath the tape, but occasionally, additional instructions will need to be written by the pharmacist on top of the tape. The pharmacist also numbers the bottles when I get a three month supply at one time, so he writes “1 of 3" on the first one. If I use them in the order which they were intended, I can keep track of when I need to order a refill.

I’ve never seen him write on label tape with a pen. He always uses a permanent marker, which is probably more apt to stick and last.


I used to work in a vet’s office, and I used label tape to organize the patient files. The vet had not converted over to electronic files, so we had to label everything by hand and arrange it alphabetically.

We used hot pink label tape on each file folder tab for easy identification. It is a lot easier to find the file tabs when rifling through a stack if they are brightly colored, and the black ink pen that I used showed up very well on the hot pink label.

I no longer work there, and I heard that he has finally converted to computer files. I just wonder what he did with all that leftover label tape in the desk drawer!

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