Pipe Marking Text – Can It Be Abbreviated?

Pipe Marking Illustration

When you’re labeling the pipes in your facility, you want to make a pipe’s contents as clear to viewers as possible. Achieving this involves selecting the appropriate size, color and location for your pipe labels. By using the guidelines established by the ANSI/ASME 13.1 standard, you can create a pipe marking system that is easy for workers, maintenance personnel and emergency responders to understand.

What should you do, though, when the text you need to fit on your pipe marking label is too long? Can you shorten it without diluting the meaning of your label and confusing your workers?

When the text describing the contents of a pipe is too long, it is acceptable to use abbreviations. (You should only abbreviate when necessary, though. When you have the space, spell out entire words.) An extensive list of abbreviations for possible pipe contents can be found in this free guide. The short list of abbreviations below provides a few examples of common abbreviations:

  • CW – Circulating Water
  • PW – Primary Water
  • BA – Boric Acid
  • EXH – Exhaust
  • MS – Main Steam
  • FO – Fuel Oil
  • IA – Instrument Air

In many cases, you can make your pipe label long enough to fit all the text you need. Sometimes, though, the length of pipe will not permit this. You might also need to use abbreviated text if you’re labeling pipe valves with valve tags, as these tags are usually small.

There’s one other consideration you should make when you’re deciding what text to put on a pipe label, and that’s the required size of the text itself. You can’t just use a smaller font size and then cram all of your text onto the label. The size of a label’s text depends on the size of the label, which is determined by the size of the pipe you’re dealing with.

For example, a pipe with a large diameter of 10 inches would need to have a label 32 inches long. The text on that label would need to be at least 3.5 inches tall. (See the chart below for more details about label length and text size.)

Pipe Diameter Minimum Label Length Minimum Letter Height
0.75″ to 1.25″ 8″ 0.5″
1.25″ to 2.5″ 8″ 0.75″
2.5″ to 8″ 12″ 1.25″
8″ to 10″ 24″ 2.5″
10″+ 32″ 3.5″

In this example, you are working with a pretty large label, so abbreviated text might not be necessary. If the contents of this pipe required a lengthy description, though, it would be permissible to use recognizable abbreviations.

Print Pipe Marking Labels Yourself

If you run a large facility with many pipes, it’s often easier and more cost effective to print pipe marking labels yourself using an industrial label printer. A printer allows you to make labels whenever you need them and it allows you to easily customize the text on your labels, which is helpful if you need to make a lot of pipe marking labels with abbreviated text.

If you do make labels yourself, make sure you abbreviate the text on them consistently. Just as you want your pipe marking system’s color scheme to be consistent, you’ll also want the text on your labels to be uniform and easy to understand.

Why is pipe marking important

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