I know it seems like a silly discussion, but the question of “Should I call them labels or stickers?” does come up quite often.
To be exact, the technical definitions are as follows:
A label is a piece of paper, polymer, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a container or product, on which is written or printed information about the product.
A sticker is a type of label: a piece of printed paper or plastic with pressure sensitive adhesive on one side. They can be used for decoration, depending on the situation. They can come in many different shapes, sizes and colors.
A decal or transfer is a plastic, cloth, paper or ceramic substrate that has printed on it a pattern or image that can be moved to another surface upon contact, usually with the aid of heat or water.
When we talk about a sticker we think of labels that are advertising a product (but not attached to the product itself) or have some sort of art or design, like the label below.
A label on the other hand is a more general term that we use when it is attached to an item or its packaging. We also use the term label when referring to a racking location label rather than calling it a sticker.
Does it really matter? Not really, as long as no one gets confused by the terminology.
For the most part, labels or stickers are made of some sort of a material with an adhesive on the back.
Additional terms we use that come into play and add to the confusion are:
- Tag – A label without adhesive
- Decal – Printed material that can be transferred to another object. i.e. water based tattoo.