Can I Print a Shipping Label on Regular Paper? [Answered] 

Can I print a shipping label on regular paper

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The smooth operation of shipping and handling is the lifeblood of any successful online venture. A seamless delivery experience secures customer contentment and paves the way for repeat business. On the other hand, logistical hiccups can quickly escalate into dissatisfied customers and lead to bad reviews.

As e-commerce businesses scale, finding cost-efficient and effective shipping solutions becomes paramount. One strategy to cut costs is to use regular paper for shipping labels instead of more expensive materials like thermal paper. This raises a common question: Can shipping labels be printed on regular paper?  

The short answer is YES; you can print a shipping label on regular paper. 

But before you grab a sheet of regular paper and start printing shipping labels, there are a few things to consider. Using regular paper might seem like an easy solution, but it comes with challenges. These include the potential for increased manual labour, the risk of damage to labels during shipping, and a potentially unprofessional appearance for your packages.

This article aims to delve deeper into the surface-level question of printing shipping labels on regular paper. We will dissect the pros and cons associated with printing shipping labels on regular paper, recommend the best printers for the job, and help you navigate the decision-making process. 

So, without further ado, let’s get started. 

For a thorough understanding of shipping labels, please see our detailed guide, What is a Shipping Label?

Advantages of Printing Shipping Labels on Regular Paper

Five advantages of printing shipping labels on regular paper

Printing shipping labels on regular paper offers several benefits, and understanding these benefits can help make informed decisions about shipping practices.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Regular paper is more affordable than purchasing specialised label sheets or thermal paper. This cost advantage is particularly beneficial for small businesses and startups looking to reduce shipping expenses.
  • Accessibility: Regular paper is widely available and easily found in any office supply store or supermarket, eliminating the need for special orders or trips to specific stores. This convenience ensures that shipping labels can be printed whenever necessary without any delay, keeping operations running smoothly.
  • Flexibility: Printing on regular paper allows for more flexibility in label size and design. Users can customise their labels to fit various packaging sizes and include extra information without being constrained by the dimensions of pre-cut labels.
  • No Requirement for Special Equipment: Standard inkjet or laser printers are all needed to print shipping labels on regular paper, sidestepping the necessity for expensive thermal printers. This eliminates the need to invest in additional hardware, making it an accessible option for everyone, regardless of the scale of their operations. 
  • Environmentally Friendly: Regular paper is easier to recycle than thermal paper, which is often coated with chemicals that complicate the recycling process. By using regular paper for shipping labels, businesses can contribute to reducing waste and supporting sustainable practices in their shipping operations.

Disadvantages of Printing Shipping Labels on Regular Paper

Seven disadvantages of printing shipping labels on regular paper

Using regular paper for shipping labels is cost-effective and convenient but introduces several challenges that affect the efficiency and perception of shipping operations.

  • Durability Concerns: Shipping labels printed on regular paper are more vulnerable to damage from moisture, tearing, and fading. This vulnerability can compromise the integrity of the label, risking the legibility of essential shipping information during transit. 
  • Adhesion Issues: Attaching shipping labels printed on regular paper to packages requires additional steps, such as using tape or glue. This method is less reliable and secure than adhesive-backed labels, potentially leading to labels peeling off or getting lost. 
  • Unprofessional Appearance: Regular paper lacks the finish and crispness of specialised label materials, which leads to an unprofessional look. This perception might affect the brand’s image, primarily if customers associate the quality of the shipping presentation with the value of the contents.
  • Printer Ink/Toner Costs: Printing labels on regular paper leads to a higher consumption of printer ink or toner. Over time, this increased usage can significantly add to operational costs, especially for businesses with a high volume of shipments.
  • Time-Consuming: Manually cutting out labels and securing them to packages is tedious and time-consuming. This additional labour can slow down the shipping process, affecting the overall efficiency of shipping operations.
  • Barcode Scanning Issues: Regular paper does not provide the same level of contrast and clarity as thermal or specialised label paper, potentially leading to issues with barcode scanning. Additionally, inkjet printers may cause the ink to smudge or bleed, and any creases or wrinkles in the paper can lead to scanning errors. Such issues necessitate manual entry of shipping information by carriers, leading to operational delays. 
  • Security Concerns: Shipping labels printed on regular paper and attached with tape can be more easily removed or tampered with. This could lead to lost or misrouted packages, impacting customer satisfaction and trust. In contrast, some pre-cut labels are designed with tamper-proof features, significantly enhancing shipment security and ensuring safe delivery. 

For a deeper understanding of secure labelling, please consult our detailed guides, What are Tamper Proof Labels? and What are Security Labels? 

Which Printer to Use When Printing Shipping Labels on Regular Paper?

When it comes to printing shipping labels on regular paper, the type of printer you choose can significantly impact the quality and durability of your labels. Inkjet printers and laser printers are the two most common choices for printing shipping labels on regular paper. Each printer has its own unique benefits and drawbacks of printing shipping labels. 

Let’s take a closer look at which printer is ideal for printing shipping labels on regular paper.  

Printing Shipping Labels on an Inkjet Printer

Advantages and disadvantages of printing shipping labels on an inkjet printer

Inkjet printers are a popular choice for many businesses and home offices due to their versatility and ability to produce high-quality prints with rich colours. When printing shipping labels, an inkjet printer can be handy for labels that include colourful logos or branding elements.

To compare inkjet printers with thermal printers, refer to Thermal Printers vs Inkjet Printers comparison article


  • High-Quality Colour Printing: Inkjet printers excel at producing vibrant colours and detailed graphics. This makes them perfect for printing shipping labels with colourful logos or detailed branding elements. 
  • Affordability: Inkjet printers generally come with a lower upfront cost, making them accessible for those on a budget or with modest printing needs.
  • Flexibility in Label Sizes: Inkjet printers can print on a wide range of paper sizes and types, allowing for printing shipping labels in various dimensions to suit different packaging sizes.
  • Ability to Print Adhesive Label Stickers: Many inkjet printers support printing on adhesive-backed paper. This added capability enables the effortless production of self-adhesive shipping label stickers, eliminating the need for additional printing devices.


  • Ink Smudging: A significant concern with inkjet printers is the potential for ink to smudge if the labels get wet or are handled roughly before the ink dries completely. This can affect the readability of barcodes and text.
  • Higher Running Costs: Despite the affordability of the printers themselves, the cost of ink replacement can accumulate, especially for those with substantial printing needs. This makes the long-term operational costs higher.
  • Inkjet-Specific Paper Required for Best Results: To avoid smudging and ensure the best print quality, inkjet-specific glossy or matte papers are often recommended. However, inkjet-specific glossy or matte papers are more expensive than regular paper, adding to the overall cost.

Printing Shipping Labels on a Laser Printer

Advantages and disadvantages of printing shipping labels on a laser printer

Laser printers are another popular option for businesses and individuals printing shipping labels on regular paper. Laser printers bring distinct advantages and some considerations to the table regarding label printing.

To compare laser printers with thermal printers, refer to Thermal Printers vs Laser Printers comparison article


  • Precision and Clarity: Laser printers excel in producing sharp text and clear barcodes, which are crucial for the legibility of shipping labels. The toner used in laser printing doesn’t smudge, ensuring that labels remain readable even when exposed to moisture.
  • Durability: Labels printed with laser technology are more durable, resisting fading and damage from handling and shipping conditions. This ensures that labels stay intact and legible from departure to delivery.
  • Speed: Designed for high-volume printing, laser printers can produce labels much faster than inkjet printers. This makes them ideal for businesses with large shipping volumes, reducing the time spent on printing.
  • Cost Efficiency for High Volume: While the initial cost of a laser printer may be higher, they are generally more cost-effective over time for high-volume printing due to the lower cost per page and longer-lasting toner cartridges.


  • Higher Initial Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing a laser printer is typically higher than that of an inkjet printer. This can be a barrier for small businesses or individuals with limited initial budgets.
  • Limited to Monochrome for Lower-End Models: While colour laser printers are available, they are more expensive. Many businesses opt for monochrome laser printers for cost reasons, meaning colour logos and branding elements won’t be as vibrant as inkjet printers.
  • Less Versatility in Media Types: Laser printers work best with standard paper sizes and types. Printing on adhesive labels or thicker media may require a higher-end model specifically designed to handle such materials, limiting flexibility compared to inkjet printers.

So, What is the Best Printer to Print Shipping Labels?

Advantages and disadvantages of printing shipping labels on thermal printers

Well, inkjet and laser printers fall a bit short of the mark when it comes to printing shipping labels. The crown for the best printer to print shipping labels goes to thermal printers. Why, you ask? Let’s dive into why thermal printers are best for printing shipping labels. 

Advantages of Thermal Printers for Printing Shipping Labels:

  • Durability and Clarity: Thermal printers produce high-quality, durable labels resistant to smudging, fading, and moisture. This is essential for ensuring that shipping information and barcodes remain legible throughout the shipping process.
  • Speed and Efficiency: Designed for rapid, continuous label printing, thermal printers can significantly streamline the process, making them ideal for high-volume shipping environments.
  • Cost-Effectiveness for Volume Printing: Thermal printers operate without ink, toner, or cartridges, relying instead on thermal paper. This can lead to substantial savings over time, particularly for businesses with extensive shipping needs.
  • Reliability: With fewer moving parts than inkjet or laser printers, thermal printers are less prone to breakdowns and maintenance issues, ensuring consistent operation during critical shipping periods.

Considerations for Thermal Printers for Printing Shipping Labels:

  • Initial Investment: The upfront cost of a high-quality thermal printer is higher than that of inkjet or laser printers. However, the long-term savings on ink, toner, and maintenance can offset this initial investment.
  • Thermal Paper Costs: While thermal printers do not require ink or toner, they do require specific thermal paper and thermal ribbon, which is more expensive than regular paper. Yet, the efficiency and durability of thermal printing often justify this cost.
  • Limited Colour Printing: Thermal printers typically produce labels in black and white, which might be a limitation for businesses that require colour-coded shipping labels or wish to include colourful branding directly on their labels.

Should You Use Regular Paper for Printing Shipping Labels? - The Final Verdict

Deciding whether to use regular paper for printing shipping labels is a nuanced choice that hinges on various factors, including your business’s scale, budget, and specific needs. While we’ve explored the advantages and disadvantages of inkjet, laser, and thermal printers, it’s clear each option has its place depending on the context of your operations. 

Let’s distil this information into a final verdict on the matter.

Regular paper, with its accessibility and cost-effectiveness, presents a viable option for startups and small businesses focused on minimising upfront costs. The flexibility it offers in terms of printer compatibility—being usable with both inkjet and laser printers—makes it an appealing choice for those seeking simplicity and convenience. 

However, the considerations around durability, professional appearance, and the potential for ink smudging cannot be overlooked. These factors could influence customer perceptions and the efficiency of your shipping process.

On the other hand, thermal printers, while representing a higher initial investment, provide long-term savings and benefits that often outweigh their initial cost. They offer durability, efficiency, and speed unmatched by traditional inkjet or laser printers on regular paper. 

For businesses with significant shipping volumes or those prioritising the longevity and legibility of their labels, thermal printing emerges as the superior choice.

The Verdict

If your operation is just starting out or working within tight budgetary constraints, beginning with an inkjet or laser printer and regular paper might make sense. This approach allows you to scale your printing solutions as your business grows. 

However, investing in a thermal printer and the appropriate thermal paper is advisable for those with higher volumes of shipments or the need for labels that withstand a variety of shipping conditions. This investment ultimately streamlines your shipping process, enhances the professional appearance of your packages, and could save costs in the long run.

While regular paper can be a starting point for printing shipping labels, shifting towards thermal printing technology is often inevitable for growing businesses seeking efficiency and reliability. Remember, your choice should align with your current operational needs while considering future growth. As always, Triton is here to support you with a range of printing solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of modern businesses. 

We hope this article was useful. 

Thanks for reading! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Print the Prepaid Label on Regular Paper Instead of Sticker?

Yes, you can print a prepaid label on regular paper instead of a sticker. 

However, it’s important to consult the guidelines provided by your shipping carrier, as some may have specific requirements regarding label materials.

Can I Print a Postage Label on Paper?

Yes, you can print a postage label on regular paper. However, when printing postage labels on regular paper, it is generally advised to use an entire A4-size sheet.

Can I Print the Shipping Label on Coloured Paper?

Yes, it is possible to print shipping labels on coloured paper, but it’s not recommended. 

Coloured backgrounds can interfere with the functionality of barcode scanners, leading to potential processing delays. To avoid such issues, it’s recommended to use white or light-coloured paper, ensuring high contrast between the ink and the paper for maximum readability of the label’s barcode and text.

How Do I Attach a Shipping Label Printed on a Regular Paper?

To attach a shipping label printed on regular paper to your package, you will need an external adhesive, such as glue or tape. 

Here’s a straightforward process to follow:

  1. Apply a layer of glue or a similar adhesive to the back of your printed shipping label.
  2. Carefully position the label on a flat, easily visible area of the package.
  3. Press firmly for a few moments to ensure the label is securely attached.

Alternatively, you can use clear packing tape to encase the entire label and seal all edges thoroughly. This method secures the label and shields it from moisture and damage during transit. 

When using tape, be cautious not to cover the barcode with tape as it may cause glare and impede the scanning process.

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