Understanding Label Orientation

When purchasing label rolls, it is important to keep in mind label orientation.

Standard Label Sizing:

Every label is specified by height and width. The first number describes the width of the label and the latter describes the height. Thus a 4” x 6” label is 4” wide and 6” high.

On a roll, the label’s width determines the width of the roll. This means that a roll of 4” x 6” labels is 4” wide, whereas a roll of 6” x 4” labels is 6” wide. You can see how purchasing the wrong roll may cause issues as printers can only print up to a certain width. 

Label Orientation

When applying labels by hand, label orientation is not as crucial as you can rotate the label before applying it. However, when using machines such as label applicators and dispensers, the orientation of your label is critical. The orientation of your label must match the orientation of the applicator or else the label will come out sideways or upside down. See the image below as an example. Notice how the orientation of the label as it leaves the printer matches its orientation when it is applied to the bottle. 

Label Orientation and Application

When determining label orientation, it will be helpful to visualize your label being applied to your product. Taking the above as an example, since the bottle is sideways when the label is applied, the “width” of the label becomes its height. Thus when designing your label, you will need to rotate your design by 90 degrees. 

Roll Orientation (Unwind Direction):

Roll Direction (also known as Unwind Direction) refers to the way the label is oriented as you unwind the roll. When applying labels by machine, the labels will need to come off the roll and feed into the machine in a specific position. The required roll direction is usually specified in your label applicator’s manual or by a third-party applicator.

There are 4 common roll directions in the label industry and they are described by the edge of the label that comes off the roll first:

  1. Top Off
  2. Bottom Off
  3. Right Side Leading
  4. Left Side Leading 

Label Orientation BuyLabel Canada

Roll Direction is based on the graphics on your label. Use your design as a visual aid when selecting label direction.

If you have any additional questions about label orientation, you can contact us at support@buylabel.ca or by calling 1-855-886-1900 / 647-718-4150.