Benchling supports printing labels for any box, plate, container, or registered entity you track. There are three components to label printing:

  • The inventory item (box, plate, container) or registered entity that you want to print a label for. This is where the information printed on the label will be taken from.

  • The label template. This defines how the label will look, and where data will be displayed on the label.

  • The printer. This is where the label will be physically printed.

Set up label templates in Benchling

You can upload ZPL (Zebra Programming Language) label template code into Benchling, which will allow you to print labels with information about items in Benchling.

Create a label template using Zebra designer

Benchling does not provide a label designer for you to use. Instead, it allows you to upload ZPL label templates, which you can design using a number of label design programs. Zebra Designer Pro (V3) is free and provided by Zebra, but any software that can produce ZPL should work. When designing your labels, you can use keywords that Benchling will recognize (see below) to pull in data related to the item on to the label.

Note: Zebra Designer Pro is not compatible with macOS. if you have a Mac, you will need an emulator (eg.. a virtual box, PaperSpace or another program that generates ZPL files) to run the Zebra Designer software.

Keywords are all formatted as benchling.<item type>.<property> (e.g. benchling.container.barcode or benchling.entity.Cell Count). Below is a table of what properties we support for what items:

Note on entities: The "barcode" for a registered entity is its registry ID.


Note on batches: Some containers contain multiple batches. Any entity property, any batch property, or the concentration property will use the data on the first batch in a container.



Once you have ZPL for your label, you can upload that into Benchling. Go to the “Label Templates” section in your registry settings and click “Create”. You will be prompted to enter a name for your label template, as well as the ZPL to use.

Create a label

Let's assume we want to create a label for a container with a cell line in Benchling. An example container is shown below:

We start by creating a label with a label design program (the screenshots below will assume you're using Zebra Designer). When using Zebra Designer, you'll need to have at least one Zebra printer installed on the computer that you're using. The first time you connect the printer, you should be walked through adding a printer. Refer to this Help article.

  1. Open Zebra Designer Pro and click on “Create new Label”. This will open a new modal

  2. In the first page of the modal, select your Zebra Printer and click “Next”.

  3. In the next page, set the Label page size and click next again.

  4. Select the Label orientation (Landscape vs. Portrait) and click next.

  5. On the last page of the modal, configure the dimensions of the Label and

    click “Next” then “Finish”. This will open the Label setup page.

  6. On the left side toolbar, click barcode and then drag and drop the

    barcode in the desired location. For more barcode options, click

    on the barcode tab in the Properties-Barcode modal on the right

  7. In the Properties-Barcode modal on the right, use benchling.container.barcode

  8. To add text to the label, select the “Text” object. Any text can be added as plain human-readable text or Benchling-specific information with the following format:

    benchling.<entity/batch/container>.<field name>

    Note: You must set the “Font” to Zebra font for Benchling to read the label correctly. All other fonts will be unrecognizable. Select the content to be "Fixed text".

  9. Once you've made your label, select “File” then “Print” to export the label as ZPL.

We recommend to setting to a lower speed than the default (5) and darkness above 15, as shown above. Make sure to select the “Print to file” box and then “Print”. This will generate a .prn file that contains the ZPL label code (see below).

Preview label

To preview labels in Benchling, refer to this Help article.

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