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Sample Label Printing Tutorial for Reliable Sample Tracking

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Creating clear and efficient labels should be part of any laboratory information management strategy. It saves time, money, and sanity. Clear labels can help teams of scientists generate experiments with greater efficiency and teamwork. For these reasons, we have created this tutorial on how to create the best sample labels for any lab. In this short tutorial, we will explain what materials are needed to create this system as well as all the necessary steps to printing one label or multiple labels at a time.



We recommend using barcoded labels to help keep numerous samples organized and using an inexpensive label printer, such as the DYMO Label Writer 450, which can be found on sites such as Amazon.

When choosing labels, we recommend using labels designed for laboratory use, such as the DYMO-compatible cryogenic labels by GA International. GA International has a large catalog of labels compatible with various sample formats. To find a template, click on the “Label Templates” tab in the top menu bar on. Look for the DYMO section and download the template corresponding to the size and type of label chosen. Double click on the label file, and it will open in the DYMO Label software, which can be downloaded for free from the DYMO website.

Once in the DYMO Label software, the label template can be edited. We added a QR code to print the unique sample id number. QR codes are convenient because they can print a lot of information in a small space. To add a QR code, simply click on the "Insert" tab on the left-hand side of the screen. Scroll down until you find the "Barcode." Then drag and drop it onto your label.

To make the barcode a QR code, select the barcode that has been added to the label. Click on “Properties” in the right-hand corner of the text editing bar. From there, the type of barcode can be edited under “Symbology.” The barcode data can also be customized. On our label, we also added a text field that we will use to print the sample name. Text fields can be added the same way as barcodes, by looking under the Insert tab, selecting "text," and dragging it onto the label. From there, the text box can be edited by selecting it and clicking “properties.” After hitting print, the label printer will print one label at a time.

Once a single label is formatted, it is possible to print multiple labels at once. A file that contains the list of samples is needed. This may be a file that has been edited manually in Excel, or it may be a file that has been exported from  LIMS. Next, click on the file menu. Select the “Import and Print” function and click on “new.” Then, select the desired sample list file. The DYMO Label software will prompt the user to arrange the data fields from the file onto the label. After clicking "next," the user can select which samples they desire to print labels for.

To help speed up the process of creating new laboratory labels, we have included a link to the sample template we use in our video tutorial. Click here to access this template free of charge.

Barcoded laboratory labels are an efficient and effective way of keeping your samples organized. The labels are compact and QR codes can be read by most cellphones. For more information on laboratory labels, visit our post on the ultimate guide to laboratory labels.