Properly Labeling Your Samples

How can I BEST label my samples and primers to avoid confusion?

Your sample and primer tubes need to be labeled with our sample tracking numbers.
If you followed the guidelines for Organizing Your Samples, this part is fairly easy.

ALL tubes (templates AND primers) must be labeled with our tracking numbers.

Each tube MUST have a tracking number. You can write just the last four digits
of the sample number on the tube, if it's too difficult to write all seven on it.

The submission confirmation email tells you how to label them. Basically, templates
should< have the tracking number, while primers should have that same number plus
"P1", "P2" etc. as appropriate.

NOTE: when you talk to us on the phone or via email regarding a sample,
please tell us ALL SEVEN DIGITS so we can look it up in our database.

For every template tube there is only ONE sample number
-- and, conversely: --
For every sample number, there is only ONE template tube.

You think you need to put more than one number on a single template tube?
If so, then you did something wrong.

Save yourself some effort: don't give us multiple tubes of the same primer.

If many samples are to be sequenced with the same primer, just give us ONE tube
of that primer. It must be labeled with the RANGE of sample numbers to which it
applies. For example: a primer labeled "1402157-63 P1" is the P1 primer for all of
the samples from 1402157 through 1402163.


  • If the sample numbers are not consecutive, they may not share primers.
  • All samples in that range must use that primer. We cannot skip around.
  • A primer may NOT be a 'P1' for one sample and a 'P2' for a different one.

Even with these restrictions, with some careful planning you can vastly reduce the
numbers of tubes you need to label. Order your samples so that the ones with
shared primers are all together. If there are some primers shared amongst a set
and some that are not, make the shared ones the lowest-numbered primers so you
don't need to break the last rule, above.


Think about the poor technician who has to pipette your samples and keep them straight.
  • Sample numbers must be clear and readable - no scribbling!
  • Please do not use colored pens; they are hard to read under laboratory lighting.
  • Please do not use stick-on labels; they fall off in the freezer.
  • Don't use 'scotch' tape, either over top of your markings or with the numbers
    written on it. That, too, falls off in the freezer, carrying the label with it.
  • Avoid any spurious markings that might be mistaken as one of our sample numbers,
    or that make it more difficult to read the sample number.

If you feel you have a sample set that is not accommodated by these guidelines,
perhaps you could contact the Core Director.

We reserve the right to reject any sample that is improperly labeled,
unreadable, or any sample sets organized in a way that we feel may
increase the risk of error during handling in the Sequencing Core.

Please note also:

  • We will not return samples that were shipped to us, so
    improperly-labeled samples from outside UM will be discarded.

  • We cannot take the time to relabel tubes for you. If they are
    not right, we simply cannot accept them.