3 Types of Wire ID Labels

Proper wire identification is critical to project efficiency and employee safety, but how do you find the right label for the job? Though there are lots of wire identification options out there, they can be categorized into 3 main types: Heat Shrink Sleeves, Wrap Around and Cable Flags.

Heat Shrink Sleeves

Using a heat gun to fit heatshrink to a wire

Using a heat gun to apply a heat shrink sleeve to a cable.

Heat shrink sleeves fit over the end of a cable and shrink when exposed to heat for a snug fit. These labels are popular for their excellent durability and easy application. Heat shrink sleeves may come in a ladder-style carrier or as a continuous roll.

Continuous and Ladder Heatshrink Side By Side

Continuous (left) and Ladder-Style (right) heat shrink shown side-by-side.

Ladder Style

Ladder style heat shrink comes pre-cut to a certain length and loaded onto a ladder-style carrier that allows for easy application after printing.


Continuous heat shrink sleeves come in a flattened continuous tube. Continuous heat shrink tubing is easy to customize and printable on both sides, making it the preferred choice for most applications.


  • Very Durable
  • Low Cost Per Label
  • Cannot be applied after termination

Wrap Around Labels

Wrap around label on a LAN cable

Wrap around labels may be applied after cable termination.

Wrap arounds are adhesive labels that are designed to be wrapped around the diameter of a wire. With a selection of colors and preprinted options, these labels work well for both print-and-apply and stand-alone solutions.


Applying a self laminating wire label

Self-laminating labels have a clear tail that protects the printed label underneath.

Self-laminating labels are like wrap arounds, except that they have a clear laminate tail that provides extra durability when applied.


  • Extremely Durable (self-laminating)
  • May be applied before or after termination
  • Many varieties available

Cable Flags

A flag type label on a cable

Cable flags can fit several lines of data and even barcodes.

Cable flags are also adhesive labels, but rather than wrapping flat around the wire, these labels stick out like a flag. Due to the thinness of the material that wraps around the wire, these labels are generally less durable than other types. They make up for this lessened durability with increased labeling space, making it easy to fit multiple lines of data on a small wire or cable.


  • Lots of labeling space
  • May be applied before or after termination
  • Less durable than heat shrink or wrap around labels.

As with any labeling solution, it is important to consider legibility. For some applications, color coding wires is sufficient. Other times, it may be important to mark a wire with a specific number or code. In that case a pre-printed label or a wire marking printer may be your best choice.

Whatever you choose, our wire marking masters will work to find your best solution.