labeling : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary



The basic idea of labeling is, when you know what something is, you make a note so that you will be able to tell what it is when you have forgotten.

What To Label Dymo
Paper Labels Nail Polish
Sticky Dots Shopping For A Labelmaker
Sharpie Permanent Marker Links

What To Label

Common applications include labeling:

Paper Labels

Paper labels fade, rip and are easily torn off. They work well on the outsides of ice cream buckets held on with Scotch Tape™ and as coloured sheets tucked in front of a group of papers in a large Ziploc® bag. Prepare them with a word processor using a large font.

Sticky Dots

Dots come is a wide range of sizes and colours in any stationery store. The catch is they will not stick to anything but paper.

Sharpie Permanent Marker

Sharpie fine tip permanent marker

Sharpie fine tip permanent markers write on pretty well anything. How legible they are depends on your calligraphy skill. Often there is not enough contrast especially when writing on dark surfaces or using a old marker.


Dymo makes a label printer you attach to your computer. It is orders of magnitude better than any hand-held unit, except for portability. It uses three types of tape:

  1. Standard
    needs a relatively large flat surface to stick to. Very small labels will not stay stuck. Easily peeled off later.
  2. Permanent
    super strong glue to hold the label on permanently.
  3. Flexible
    nylon. You can apply them to curved surfaces or wrap them around cables.

You can use all your installed fonts plus DYMO Symbols which comes with it that looks like this:

DYMO Symbols font

Nail Polish

Nail polish is fairly durable and it comes in many colours. You can use a dot of it to mark pin 1 of a connector, for example. You want a polish that is hard to remove, completely opaque, in a garish colour, in other words, one unsuitable for putting on your nails.

Shopping For A Labelmaker

Dymo label printers are unbelievably cheap, the same as a roll of tape. They make their money selling tape. It is the same principle as cheap ink jet printers and expensive ink.

electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Dymo DYM1768960 LabelManager PnP Label Makerto electronic home
asin B00464E5P2
dim 16 × 6.35 × 15.49 cm
6.30 × 2½ × 6.10 in

This is the perfect gift for the nerd or nerdlet in your life. The unit plugs into a PC or Mac USB port. You compose your sticky labels with computer software. This design fixes so many of the problems of traditional label makers.


  • You now have a huge, high res computer screen to compose the label.
  • You have a proper keyboard to compose the label.
  • You save the cost of six AAA batteries at a pop since it charges from the USB port.
  • You have access to any conceivable font — anything installed on your computer.
  • You can include any accented letter, symbol, image, logo, bar code, layout… It behaves for all practical purposes like a tiny thermal printer printing on special tape.
  • You can buy tape cartridges in five widths. You can get various combinations of clear, black, white, red, green, blue and yellow tape. You can get standard, permanent adhesive or flexible for labeling cables.
  • There is less to malfunction.
  • It does not tack long blank leaders and trailers to sell more tape.


  • It will not produce address or shipping labels.
  • It cannot print in colour, other than the two colours built-in to the tape.
  • The backings are still just as hard as ever to peel off. There need to be an accessory for peeling off the backs that does not require you to have your fingernails professionally sharpened.
  • You need a computer nearby to use it.
  • Tape cartridges are relatively expensive — about $19 though you can find them discounted on the net.
  • As a printer, 12 mm/sec is pretty slow, but more that adequate for making one-off labels. It is noticeably faster than a hand-held unit.

Random Observations

  • It has a strangely-shaped lithium-ion rechargeable battery. You have to experiment to figure out how to orient it. To add to the confusion, the battery cover has a decal that suggests you need to insert a traditional C-cell.
  • There is a plastic cleaning wand you can store on the inside of the case on a rectangular peg.
  • The tape that comes with it is only 10 feet long.
  • It behaves like a USB flash drive, with the software built-in. You just plug it in and run the Dymo Label Light software. You can then download a fancier 114MB version. The firmware version has no support for accented letters and glyphs that you cannot directly key. You can copy and paste them from my HTML entities page. The fancy version handles bar codes and clip art and multi-line labels.
  • You can download a free, fancier version of the software which lets you preview the fonts and includes two extra fonts DYMO Symbols and DYMObvba which it automatically installs. The fonts just support the usual ISO-8859-1 8-bit encoding symbols, not all the proprietary symbols you find on the hand-held units. The downloadable software is harder to use. You must first click the compose box before you select a font. You must select a font before you type. You cannot type then apply a font the way you can in a word processor. The selected font often changes by itself. You have to keep an eye on it. You can then copy paste any characters you want into the box.
  • To do bar codes, click bar code which puts a generic bar code on the label. The right click properties to select the type, data etc.
  • The unit is bigger than I expected. It is about the size of a 1950s movie camera.
  • Cutting is done mechanically.
  • It is 100 times easier to prepare a label than on my old Dymo Pocket handheld electronic unit.
  • I don’t think it has sensors to tell the software the width and type of tape installed.

Tape Lengths

Dymo Tape Lengths
Type Meters Feet
Standard 7 23
Permanent 5.5 18
Flexible 3.5 12
Sample 3 10

The theory is, instead of charging different amounts for the different types of tape, they charge the same for all types of cartridge and give you less tape for the costlier-to-produce types.

You can buy one cheaply from Label City or on eBay. Amazon has recently been effectively giving them away for less the cost of a tape cartridge. Specs.

There is also a deluxe WiFi version, model DYM1812570, for simpler sharing.

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Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
OPI nail polish: unsuited for labeling, best for nails
Sharpie Permanent Marker

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