9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark

Labeling shelves is a favorite challenge of mine. When you are labeling library shelves, it’s particularly tricky, because you might want to label shelves without leaving a mark or damaging them. Or maybe you are commitment-phobic or living in an apartment where you can’t just change what you want. Here are 9 ways to label shelves without leaving a mark. You can use these ideas for library shelves, pantry shelves, bathroom shelves, and office shelves.

(Oops! It looks like a system glitch stopped daily delivery of these articles to most people for about two weeks. Click the latest articles at the bottom of this article to catch up with the January organizing ideas.)

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark


9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark

  1. Got a label maker? You might just be able to stick a label right on your shelves, like we did here. These will lift off easily years from now, no problem. Don’t overlook the obvious…and the simplest solution to label shelves.

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark-wine shleves

2. If you are worried those neat labels might damage your stained or painted surface, here’s a hack (hat tip to my NAPO colleague Geralin Thomas). First, place washi tape that is the same width as your label tape on the shelf, then cover that washi tape with your label tape.

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark with Washington tape

Washi tape has a low-tack backing that is easily removed down the road. Never heard of washi tape? I’ll warn you, with so many patterns and uses, it’s a little addictive. Start with this pretty wash tape multipack (affiliate link).

3. These pretty bordered labels from Oxo are also removable. Remember, it’s the removable feature that’s important. You could cut them to size if they are too big for your project.

4. 3M also makes a removable label tape (affiliate link) that is perfect for hand-labeling. It’s simple and white, no fuss.

5. Handwrite or use label tape on these simple clip labels, best used on shelves that are exactly 3/4 inch thick.

6. For thinner shelves, or even fabric shelves like these hanging organizers that I use in my hall closet, you can use standard binder clips and apply a label to the fat end.

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark with binder clips


7. Instead of putting labels on the shelves, put labels in between your sections. If you are shelving books, place tabbed dividers in between your sections using tabbed file dividers. You can buy these file guides pre-made and ready to label, or you can make them yourself using an old file folder like I did here. If you want more color, use posterboard and one of my favorite tab products, Avery UltraTabs (affiliate links) in various sizes and patterns.

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark with dividers


8. Maybe the back of the shelves aren’t as precious at the front of your shelves. Use a ribbon, taped (with painter’s tape) to the shelf underneath your collection, to hang a label over the front of your shelf, like so.

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark-using ribbon


9. 3M Command Strips, used properly, are also a good bet to hold lightweight labels, like these cute metal library labels.

9 Ways to Label Shelves Without Leaving a Mark-with library labels


You have to get the library drawer labels with a backing for this to work (many have open backs), and I recommend getting the clear 3M Command Strip refills (affiliate links). Yep, they come in clear! If your label is just a smidge bigger than your shelf, like mine is here, the little Command Strip tab is hidden behind the label, and you should be able to grab the adhesive release tab when the time comes. Here’s how to properly remove the 3M Command Strip adhesive without damage, even after years of use.

Is there a shelf that you’ve been looking for just the right label solution for? I’ve got even more ideas of how to label here for you.


Missing something?

It looks like the articles didn’t go out via email for the past two weeks. I know you rely on these to keep you focused on your organizing plans. My apologies! You can click these links to catch up.

ReStart Organizing

How to Find Space in Kitchen Drawers

Organizing Books by Pro Organizers

Advanced Adulting

Online Banking Password Tracker

Organize Closets Like a Pro Organizer

Cabinet Above Refrigerator: What Goes There

Best Bins for Organizing

What Are Simple Filing Categories

When It’s Not A Clutter Problem

Turn Clutter into a Cool Gallery Wall

Storage Items at Aldi

Lazy Tricks to Organize Like a Gen Z


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Maria Kadingo

    Loved “9 Ways to Label Your Shelves”! I have been meaning to tackle this project. Now I have what I need!

    1. Darla

      Yay! That makes me so happy to hear. Please share with me what you come up with.

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