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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I have produced a family video and I'd like to label my DVD nicely rather than simply write on it with a marker. What are my choices?

A. Certainly, using a marker is acceptable for a disc you're going to store for yourself. But in this case, you'll want to label it properly. There are several choices and each one has pros and cons so you will need to see which fits your particular situation. And you also might need to purchase additional equipment to complete the project.

The most common way to dress up your disc is to print a paper label and place it on the CD or DVD. These labels are available at any office supply store and will usually include a link to free software or templates. This software will take care of most of the heavy lifting of designing and printing the label. Go to to see some examples. The only way to properly center the label on your disc is to use some form of mechanical guide, usually known as a "Stomper", so the disc is not subject to destructive vibration.

As an alternative, certain types of CDs and DVDs may be printed on directly if you have a printer that offers the proper holding mechanism - usually a tray or carrier of some kind. Most printers do not, but if you're in the market for a new one and expect to print on discs, you might want to consider acquiring this feature.

Another possibility involves an item which you might already have on your computer but are completely unaware of - a LightScribe CD/DVD drive. A special disc (known as a "LightScribe disc") can have text and images burned to its non-data side. Software, templates and information are available at no charge from

The LightScribe discs are more expensive than typical ones, but you can buy them in small quantities to meet your needs. The process takes about 15-20 minutes per disc and the result is not very colorful, but they offer a nice low-cost alternative to that marking pen.

Published: Courier 3/3/13 - Page 3C