Poor Quality or Misaligned Labels

Steps to try if your labels are printing with a poor quality that prevents successful scanning or if they are not aligned properly on the label paper.

Resolving label quality issues may be a matter of simply changing a few settings on your printer or in your printer preferences. In most cases, ShipStation receives labels and other documents in a PDF format. The quality of the final printed product is determined by the printer settings or preferences that interpret the PDF data it receives.

The following options will guide you to the types of adjustments you can make to improve print quality.

DPI Settings

Make sure the DPI set in your Label Document Options matches the DPI configured in your printer preferences.


Calibrate Printer

Make sure to keep your printer calibrated!

  • Zebra printers will require calibrating periodically, and different models will have slightly different procedures. Look up your Zebra model + calibrate on YouTube for instructions specific to your model, or visit the Zebra support site.

  • DYMO printers are self-calibrating, but you must use official DYMO labels.

Check your printer preferences

Check your printer preferences and ensure the media size is correct for thermal printers (Zebra, Dymo, etc).

Printer preference Page Setup tab with Name highlighted.

Windows Printer Preference Defaults

Check your Windows Printer Preference defaults

  • Remove any margin values.

  • Disable Use printer settings.

  • Increase the darkness option. (This can be a trial and error process.)

  • Adjust dithering settings. (This can be a trial and error process.)

  • Slow down printer speed. (If labels print only partially, this could be the culprit!)

MacOS Printer Defaults in CUPS

Check your MacOS Printer defaults in CUPS.

  • Adjust Darkness and Print Speed (this can be a trial and error process).

  • Media type (some printers provide an option for Thermal Transfer media).

  • Graphics (choose Barcodes and Graphics, if this option is available).

CUPS menu with Printer Settings tab highlighted.

Zebra Printers

Zebra printers have the option to receive a document format called ZPL, instead of the default PDF. ZPL labels print with a crisper image than PDF, but they require some configuration on ShipStation’s side and they come with a few limitations.

ZPL labels:

  • Cannot be viewed prior to being printed (in other words, no PDF preview).

  • Cannot be customized (no store logos, no label messages).

  • Are not supported by certain services, like UPS Mail Innovations.

If you’d like to use ZPL formatted labels and you use a Zebra printer, contact ShipStation support.  We will configure your ShipStation account to accept ZPL labels.

If you change to ZPL, all labels on your account will be ZPL going forward. They cannot be customized per store or per carrier. Once ShipStation has made the change on your account, you’ll need to change the selected driver on your system. For Mac users, this can be done in CUPS. For Windows users, you’ll need to install a new Zebra driver.

Demonstration of adding a printer within the MacOS.