How-to: Customize CDs and DVDs

One of the coolest trends to come about in the digital, computer-driven age of office products is the ability to personalize your media. No longer content with just writing “Presentations” or “Office Jams ‘09” on our discs with a Sharpie, true connoisseurs of personalized media now have a wealth of options to choose from. Let’s take a look at the various levels available.

Printed Labels

The most cost-friendly and accessible level of labeling discs, the printable label comes in a variety of formats. These labels come in a pack like standard printer paper, and are available in glossy, matte or even clear varieties. Simply choose a brand of label, download the free template for use in your graphics editor of choice, and choose your design. Since you’re printing directly on a self-adhesive label just as you would print any other document, the sky is the limit in terms of color and design.

There are plenty of freeware label creation programs out there, as well
as templates for Photoshop and other image programs.

As far as application goes, if you feel you don’t have a steady enough hand to line up the label yourself, there’s a really cool product called the Stomper: just lay your label down sticky-side up, put a disc upside-down on the top peg, and press down. Presto! Perfectly applied labels every time. I have one of these and I have to say when I got it I had what could be described as a potentially inappropriate amount of fun labeling every homemade disc I own.

The only real downside to printable labels is permanence; if the disc is handled frequently or will need to be accessed for a long period of time, there’s the chance that the label will start to curl or peel up off the disc. Since the cost is so low per label, though, it’s easy to just print off a replacement for a frequently-used disc.

Printable Discs

Taking the idea of a printable label one step further, it is also possible to buy special discs which have been prepared specifically to be printed on. Since you are printing directly onto the disc itself, there’s no worry of the label peeling off, and you still get the same range of color and design choices. Since there’s no flexibility in the disc, you may notice some “pass lines” from your printer; color gradients and edges can get a little fuzzy, so simple designs are usually the best.

The downside to printing directly onto a disc is the fact that you need a printer capable of doing it, but any modern office printer worth its salt should have this option, so you’re probably not in any trouble there. If it turns out your home or office budget doesn’t allow for purchasing special hardware, there’s always the perfectly acceptable option of printing your own labels as described above.


Speaking of special hardware, one of the coolest innovations I’ve seen in a while is Lightscribe. Here, instead of using a standalone printer to print with ink on a disc, the Lightscribe drive uses the same laser to burn both your media and your design onto a specially-prepared disc. After the disc is finished burning, you take it out, flip it over, and put it back in the drive to have the top etched with whatever design you want. Special chemicals on the disc are darkened by the laser, providing a near-permanent design without using any of your precious printer ink.

The downside to Lightscribe is that the designs are monochromatic, since you are not using ink. The process is similar to woodburning or any other etching; you end up with a light grey design on a solid color background (usually gold, though silver and other color options are sometimes available). The cool thing is that Lightscribe drives work with the special discs to map your design’s location, so you can give multiple passes to darken the disc or even add on to the design later without worrying that it will come out crooked.

So there you have it! A couple of simple options to help you customize one of the most commonly used items in any office: the humble burned disc. In an age where data is increasingly passed around via USB stick or memory card, it’s possible that the burned CD or DVD is on its way out the door (which makes me feel old; remember when we were saying that about floppy disks?), but in the meantime, don’t be afraid to dress up your discs before handing them out. It will add an air of fun or professionalism to an otherwise blank canvas.

Presentation Binders & DIY Office Products See Increase, a leading office supplies and office furniture retailer, reports an increase in sales of do-it-yourself office products such as presentation binders, marking a shift from more expensive custom-printed items during tough times.

Presentation binders and other “do-it-yourself” office products from Avery, Wilson Jones, Acco Brands and Universal have enjoyed renewed interest during the last quarter, according to leading Atlanta-based online office supplies retailer,

View binders (commonly known as presentation binders) allow customers to easily print their own covers and other meeting or presentation information from any desktop printer, adding flexibility as well as time and cost savings.  According to the company, this flexibility and lower output cost has been a convincing reason for companies to move towards do-it-yourself office solutions.  Many of these companies in the past have relied on custom imprinted binders, which require a much longer lead time and are far more costly.

The trend goes far beyond binders.  Sales of inkjet and laserjet labels from Avery and many other popular brands such as Universal have also seen sales increases.

For more information, visit our section on Presentation binders and view binders. sells office supplies, office furniture, school supplies, toner, file cabinets and everything else needed for your office. We ship same day via UPS and reach the majority of our customers in 1-2 business days.

The Label Maker: An Essential Time Saver

The label maker has been around for a long time, but its use in an office environment is as important today as it ever has been. While label makers do not always make for the most attractive labels, they are efficient and they get the job done. Today’s label makers offer a wide variety of options beyond the ones of yesterday, as well. There are label makers you can purchase to change the fonts, change the colors, and type on like a keyboard, making them even more convenient and helpful. Casio and Brother are just two of the great manufacturers making quality electronic label makers for the home and office.

An office can descend into disarray rather quickly. Files and folders may be neat, but without a practical labeling system, this may not matter. Sure, you could go around and write on all of them with a magic marker, but that’s messy and it leads to an even less professional presentation than using a label maker. With a good labeling system, every place has a name, and everything can be put in its proper place. There are so many ways you can use a label maker, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.


Label Folders

All of your computer folders have a nicely labeled name, so shouldn’t your physical folders have the same? You can use a label maker to give each of your filing folders the correct name. Folders are an excellent way to keep your important documents separate and filed in an easy to access way. If you are in the medical or dental profession, you can use these folders to separate patient information. If not, you can do the same for each individual client on your company. You can also create folders for your billing and receiving information, as well as your training materials. This latter idea is an especially good one, as new employees will have a resource they can use when trying to get into the swing of the job.


Label Filing Cabinets

A filing cabinet is a wonderful way to store your papers and keep everything organized. If you have a large Metal File Cabinetoffice, however, there may be multiple filing cabinets, with little to tell the uninitiated viewer what the contents hold. This is where your label maker can come into play. Simply make a discrete label for each cabinet, or perhaps a label for each drawer, best describing the contents within. If there is no ready name for what the cabinet or drawer holds, two options present themselves. One, you may need to rethink your filing system. A filing system should be just that: a system. There should be no cabinets or drawers filled with junk that fits no particular system or scheme. However, it’s your cabinet. If you have no particular name for what a drawer holds, simply label it “MISC”, and move along.


Label CDs

CD ROMs have become part of the office environment in a big way, but without the proper labeling system, they can become lost or misplaced. No one wants to go through a stack of unlabeled CDs to determine which one contains what information. The worst part is that these CDs might have started off with some sort of writing on them, that has since been faded to time. This is where a good label maker comes in. No, not the same kind you used on the file cabinet. They have special CD label makers you can purchase that will do the job.


Create New Storage Solutions

Of course, with your new label maker, the sky is the limit as far as how you choose to store your documents and papers. This can also be transplanted to your home office, should you need to take some of your files and documents home with you, or if you just need a new filing system there as well. Plastic boxes are cheap and can make a great way to store those documents that won’t be used for some time. Folders, files, binders, and even crates can make a great storage solution as long as there is a filing system in place. With a label maker, this won’t be a problem.