Labeling Basics

Image by Pixaline from Pixabay

Ever spend time organizing a space only to have it undone in a week? This is a common problem, especially in a space where there are multiple users. The best way to make yourself and others put things back in the right space is… LABELING! Putting a label on a space provides a strong visual reminder of what should (and should not) be put there.

How do I make and attach labels? There are a variety of options, each of which lends itself to a particular situation.

Ways to Create Labels

Grab a sharpie or paint pen and simply write directly onto a storage container.

Use a label maker. This makes for clear, easy-to-read labels that look professional.

Buy blank labels to write/print on. You can get sheets of labels in a variety of shapes and patterns at a store like Staples.

Download printables. Many sights offer printable labels for every need. Check out a sight like Pinterest for ideas.

Use pre-made labels, such as luggage tags.

Design your own. If you are creative, you might enjoy drawing your own labels or designing them on your computer. Use your imagination and explore different materials, such as fun foam, burlap, linen, etc. For young children, consider using images in addition to words.

How to Attach Labels

For flat, non-porous surfaces, adhesive work best. Labels which have built-in adhesive (e.g. those from a label maker) are simply “peel and stick.” Labels that have been printed on regular paper can be attached by covering with wide, clear packing tape.

For fabric, sew labels on or attach them with iron-on fuse tape. Labels can also be stamped onto fabric with indelible ink.

When labeling a rough surface (e.g. a basket), tie labels on with a ribbon, string, or key ring.

[Note: Consider gluing labels onto cardstock or laminating them if they will be dangling.]

When available, slip a label into a bracket, such as you find on a file box or hanging file folder.

Ideal Places to Use Labels

The sky (or your family’s/coworkers’ tolerance) is the limit on what you can label, but here are a few common areas:

Shelves in a pantry, fridge or closet

Putting a label on a shelf


Bins/boxes in a basement, attic or storage area

Label on a basement bin
Label small tools


Toy bins

Label toy bins


Holiday Decorations

Holiday Bin Label


Insider a drawer (e.g. underneath a clear sorter in a desk drawer)

Label desk drawers


On the front edge of drawers

Labels on drawers


On sporting equipment (dance bag, golf clubs, etc.)

Label Golf Clubs


Baskets (e.g. in a mudroom)

Mudroom basket labels


Cords for cameras, phones, chargers, etc.

Label your cords


Hanging files

Labels on hanging files


File/photo boxes

Label a photo box

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Labels communicate what goes where. If you have a “problem area”, why not try using labels and let me know if it helped.

What areas have you found helpful to label?

24 thoughts on “Labeling Basics”

  1. I totally do need to label more and used to have a better system for this, but two kids later and not so much here sadly. You have inspired me and may need to get my labeling on. Thanks Seana 🙂

  2. I always love labels!! 🙂 I’m still using my mini-chalkboard labels because I can easily erase the writings on them and they look neat too.

    1. I loved the mini-chalkboard labels!! They are so versatile because they can be easily adjusted:) Aren’t labels fun?

    1. Nothing like a label to stop someone dead in their tracks from putting something down in the wrong place:) It really makes a world of difference….

  3. I’ve been telling myself for years to get a label maker. I don’t know what my problem is! But labels would definitely make it easier to enforce my “a place for everything” rule for the kids. A tip for pre-readers: instead of a text label, use a picture label.

    1. Definitely “yes” on the pictures for pre-readers! I think many children (perhaps not all, but many) do enjoy matching, so matching a toy to a picture feels fun.

  4. I find that I need to label more and more these days…not for hubby and son, but for me too. I just wish I had more time to label. Great ideas though!

    1. I agree, Karen. Labeling is as much for ourselves as for others, and it really does help when setting up a new system. Remember, they don’t need to be fancy.. a piece of tape will do!

    1. Okay, not I’m laughing about the Seinfeld episode!!! I suppose you can get too much of a good thing:)

    1. Pictures are so great for kids! It’s just one of those little things that can make a big difference. Thanks for the comment:)

  5. {Kathy} Oh please come to my house with that label maker! When I moved into my home, 7 years ago, I was very good about labeling everything in the cabinets and closets. Most of those are still there. I have discovered Label Tape that is very convenient to have around. My biggest hangup? I had to give up on the label looking too “perfect” and stick with handwritten ones. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Nothing wrong with a hand-written label, Kathy!!! It isn’t about looking perfect, it’s about keeping a space in order. The fact that your labels are still there 7 years ago show that Labels Work!!!

    1. That is a VERY common situation. I say all the time, label any new cord when it comes into your life because pretty soon you’ll forget what its for:)

  6. Great tips! Now how do I go about getting husband and family to place items correctly with their assigned labels? …can only lead a horse to water…. 🙂

    1. Well, you certainly have a point, JD. It isn’t magic! However, I think seeing the label on a spot does discourage casual stashing of stuff… if not, at least we can label and respect the spaces we have control over. It isn’t easy for sure.

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