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by Ray DeCosta

Q. What's the best way to label a CD or DVD that I have burned?

A. Unfortunately, there's no quick answer to this question. If you listen to everything people tell you, you'll come away with the impression that there's NO good way to do this apparently simple task. First of all, you must realize that any commercial CD/DVD you buy has probably been silk screened and you will never duplicate their quality.

For everyday use, most people simply use an ordinary fine (or ultra-fine) point permanent marker with acceptable results. Theories abound that you should always use a water-based marker, but others disagree. Using a marker does the job, but it's not very pretty.

You can easily obtain CD/DVD label stock from any office supply store and run it through your printer for a more professional look. It might take a bit of practice to stick the labels on your disc properly, but this method provides a decent balance between cost and appearance.

A little further up the scale of options is to buy special discs with a paper face which may be printed in special printers. There are also foil-based printers designed especially for this purpose.

Lastly, there are CD/DVD burners and discs which use the LightScribe technology. These will use your burner's laser to write text and graphics on the "label" surface of the disc. This takes a fair amount of time (15 minutes or so) and the results are somewhat dull. However, it's a good choice for those "special occasion discs."

Published: Courier 5/2/10 - Page 5C