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How to Print Custom Stickers at Home
October 24, 2021
Reading time: 8 minutes
Stickers are a fun way to add color and personality to a variety of surfaces, from car bumpers to laptops. You can enjoy them as a craft project, or they can be a low-cost way to jumpstart a small business with branded stickers or custom labels. Handling production yourself saves money and makes the process more flexible, because you can test out new designs whenever you want.
But how exactly do you print custom stickers at home? There are several ways to design your own stickers. Depending on the quality and features you want, it’s as easy as using Microsoft Word and your home printer.
In this article, we’ll focus on the easier ways to print your own stickers and include information on how and when to use product alternatives or upgrades. We’ll also provide details about the HP Sprocket line, a home sticker printer system that reduces prep time.
Step 1: Getting your sticker design ready
You can prepare your sticker design in several different ways, and it depends on your experience level and the intended audience. Microsoft Word is a great option for beginners, while Adobe Creative Suite offers more control for professionals, but at a steeper cost. You can even create designs by hand with a tablet or a touch screen laptop.
How do you create a design in Microsoft Word?
When your design is ready, you can simply copy and paste it into the document. Artists typically make designs in another program, like Microsoft Paint or free software like Krita and Paint.NET. Artists love both options, and they’re time-tested picks – the companies were founded in 2005 and 2004, respectively.
The advantage of Microsoft Word is simplicity. Even if you don’t have a design in mind or the ability to create one, you can still make stickers using plain text. It’s not too much different than making custom labels. Just load the right printer paper into your printer and format your print – don’t worry, we’ll explain more about supplies and formatting below.
Does file format matter?
The primary obstacles with file format are related to compatibility. If your graphic editor or printer can’t recognize a file type, you may not be able to open, edit, or even print it. If you’re only struggling with print quality, open the file in your graphics editor and try to save it in another format.
If that’s not working, check the file properties to confirm the correct file extension (i.e., .jpeg, .png, etc.) and do some research. If you can't find an editor to support a particular file type, try looking up convertors to change the extension. Or if you’re only dealing with print quality, open the file in your graphics editor and try saving in another format.
Can I create designs by hand?
You can create designs by hand, but you should bear a couple things in mind. If you want to create a design with pencil or ink, you’ll also have to do the following:
Digitize the image: You can do this with a scanner to guarantee the highest possible quality. Many HP OfficeJet and HP InkJet printers include scanners.
Isolate your design: If you only want certain parts of the scan to print, you may need to cut them out in a graphic editor. You can also cut out the final design individually by hand.
Your quality may vary: Some images may not appear as detailed as you want. To avoid losing detail or visual impact, consider adding an outline to pencil drawings by drawing over the original lines to add emphasis.
Are color stickers affordable?
For home sticker makers who rely on their printer to create stickers, color stickers tend to be more expensive. That’s primarily due to the cost difference between black-and-white and color ink cartridges. If you’re printing at a very high quality and making more than a handful of stickers, you may need to factor in the costs of new cartridges.
If you want to create a lot of stickers, consider signing up for HP Instant Ink. This program reduces the cost of color printing – and the cost of printing in general.
When you sign up, you’re charged based on how many pages you print, and not the quantity or type of ink you consume. Yes, color prints cost the same as black and white. And if you’re replacing an older device and want to try HP Instant Ink for yourself, keep in mind that HP+ printers include a free trial subscription.
Step 2: Planning and printer preparation
Creating your design and preparing it to print is a big step – well done! Now we need to work through a few basic questions to make sure everything is ready for the next step.
Does my printer support sticker printing?
It may be hard to tell just from the product description, but very helpful to know if your printer can handle sticker or label printing. In most cases, a traditional inkjet printer is adequate. To be safe, you can always check the printer’s documentation to see if it supports printing stickers. You can also research user reviews and check for experiences with stickers.
The proper HP printer setting for sticker paper may vary depending on the texture of the surface, but “Labels” is usually the right option. Again, if you’re unsure, look into other user experiences. Someone may have noted the best print setting for a particular material. Or you can try out a few different options to test it out for yourself.
The layout depends on how many stickers you want to print per sheet, and the size of the sheets. You can adjust your page dimensions in Microsoft Word to pack more stickers into each sheet, but make sure to leave some space between each repetition. It’s easier to cut out stickers with some extra room between them.
Do I have the right supplies?
For a simple project, you may not need much more than this:
The right sticker or label paper
A sticker-friendly printer with enough ink
Laminating sheets, if you want to add some extra protection
Baggies, if you want to create sticker packs
The biggest supply issue is generally our #1 item: the perfect sticker paper. For a small, just-for-fun project, just about any sticker paper will suffice. But if you need a more premium finish, look into options like printable vinyl. Just remember to confirm that your printer supports printing vinyl stickers.
Step 3: Printing and preparing for distribution
Whether you’re making large or small custom stickers, quality matters. Poorly made stickers fade quickly and may even damage some surfaces. This is where research is crucial. It’s also helpful to test stickers on certain objects, but the best method is to look through product descriptions and reviews.
Check your results thoroughly
Print one sheet as a trial run. Scrutinize the visual quality of the sticker before you produce additional sheets. Take an up-close look and check every detail to make sure it matches your design. You may have issues with color accuracy, for example, if your display is older. Assuming your printer is consistent, though, you can compare several different color palettes for the best result.
How do I use laminating sheets?
Laminating sheets are a little tricky to use, but they’re a great way to make non-vinyl stickers more water-resistant. Get the right size for your preferred paper format, and check the finish if you need a specific surface texture such as matte, or gloss, etc.
They typically come in page-sized adhesive sheets with a backing you need to pull off. We suggest peeling the sheet back part way to line up with your sticker sheet, then peeling back the rest of the laminating sheet.
Adding laminate isn’t always user friendly, so you may want to use an alternative. You can use acrylic spray to do the job, or you can outsource to a professional laminator machine.
Cutting out undivided stickers
Finally, it’s time to cut out or separate the individual stickers from the sticker sheet. Some may have pre-divided sections to make this easier, but you’ll typically need to cut if you use laminate sheets. As a tip, it’s much easier to cut out simple designs with square or rectangular shapes.
Home and mobile print systems
In addition to conventional printers and DIY sticker solutions, consider using a device from the HP Sprocket line of mobile and home photo and sticker printers. There are several different models to pick from, but the two portable versions support sticker printing. If you just want a good color printer that prints stickers, check out the other HP printers available today.
The basic HP Sprocket is designed for mobility and ease of use. You can quickly connect it to your smartphone to take photos and then create and edit stickers for immediate printing. Simply use the HP Sprocket smartphone app to handle the entire process.
With a 30% larger design, the HP Sprocket Select produces larger stickers at 2.3 x 3.4 inches. Both models are great for scrapbookers and family craft projects, and they’re both about the size of a smartphone. That means you can print stickers at home and on the go.
Summary: easy custom stickers at home
The question of “how to print custom stickers” clearly has many answers which we’ve done our best to sort through. Thanks to the variety of products you can use to print your stickers, just about anyone can become a custom sticker maker. All you need is Microsoft Word and an HP InkJet printer for stickers, and you’re ready to go.
About the Author
Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.
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