Are there design requirements for label printing?

To ensure quality labels, we recommend following our design requirements for label printing and using the appropriate design software. You can download our specs sheet to keep or give to your label designer.

Software Compatibility

  • Our preferred file format is Adobe Illustrator (.ai). If you are using any other software for your labels, please consult your customer service or sales rep to verify compatibility.
  • Please do not set type or layout your label in Adobe InDesign or other page layout-based programs. Instead, set type and compose your artwork file in Adobe Illustrator. (When labels are created in InDesign, exporting the files creates issues with slicing the artwork, gradients, drop shadows, images, and colors.)
  • Please do not set type or layout your label in Adobe Photoshop or other pixel-based programs. Set type and compose the file in Illustrator. Use PSD for the background image. The file should be in CMYK format, at least 300 DPI (dots per inch), and your label has a bleed of .125″ (1/16th) past the dieline.
    • DPI stands for “dots per inch,” which is a measurement of the scanning resolution of an image. DPI is the number of dots a printer can print per inch or that a monitor can display. Most images on the web are 72 DPI. These images will look good on your monitor but aren’t suitable for printing labels.
    • A ‘bleed’ is when the artwork extends beyond the edge of where your label will be cut so that there are no white spaces around the label’s borders.
  • If you must use an alternative vector-based software application, you must export a CMYK-print quality (.pdf) file. Make sure the following are in the PDF’s file settings: embed thumbnail, retain file colors & editability, no compression, downsample to 300 DPI, no color conversion, and no passwords.

Artwork Setup

  • Always design label artwork in the CMYK colorspace – RGB flat files CANNOT BE USED. If the artwork is in RGB, our artists must convert it to CMYK, then get the artwork color shift approved by the client before sending it in for printing.
  • Always send linked files with your label file. Where postcript fonts have been used, include both printer and screen fonts. We recommend sanserif font for small type (4.5 to 7pt).
  • Please remember to convert ALL text to outlines (make sure that you have carefully proofread your label art before sending it to us!).
    • We highly recommended that you or your designer convert any text to outlines in your artwork. If you don’t convert your text to outlines, we will likely run into issues when preparing your artwork as we may not have the same fonts that you or your designer used when designing the label. You will find the convert text to outlines feature in Adobe Illustrator. In Corel Draw, this feature is called “convert text to curves.” Learn more about converting fonts to outlines.
  • Always provide .125″ – 1/16th inch bleed (artwork/color extending past the dieline that you want to bleed off of the label.)
  • PNG and GIF files cannot be used to produce quality labels (this includes low res or web .jpg files). JPG files must be in CMYK format with a min 300 DPI with no text – the JPG image should solely be for background usage from the original high res file.

Image Area

  • Safety Area: Maintain 1/16″ margin in from the dieline, unless it is an intentional bleed.
  • Original Art/Scans/Text: Please include placed graphics and photographs with your art. Scan resolution should be a minimum of 300 DPI at final scale. When supplying paragraphs of text that have been rasterized into a bitmap format (1200 DPI), please include original text (.txt) files, as well as the font files.
  • Type Specs: 4.5pt positive minimum. 6pt bold for reversed text. Please avoid the following: fine reverse type, process builds on type less than 12pts. When supplying text, please convert text to outlines/curves, or send the actual font files from your computer.
  • Color Specifications: Specify required Pantone Coated Swatch® swatch numbers on spot color artwork.
  • Trapping: It’s not necessary to add traps to your artwork. Minimum trap and hold back requirements 0.5pt.Lines/Rules: Minimum setting .35pt. When printing negative (reverse) lines/rules, .5 pt is the minimum recommended.
  • Nutrition Facts: Please contact the Food and Drug Administration for necessary requirements needed for your particular application.
  • Barcodes/UPCs: Bar width reduction should be at .002″ when created at 80%, and .003″ when created at 100%. We do not guarantee scanability of barcodes smaller than 80% scale. Box width minimum is 1.275″.
  • Color Matching: Process color matches cannot be made to your laser or inkjet print outs. You must provide a sample to match prior to proofing if you are requiring us to match a previously printed label.

Can you design my label?

Typically, we don’t create label designs from scratch, however, we do work with a variety of graphic designers (Designer Referral List) on selected projects to design custom labels. If you have all of your label design elements (text, graphics, barcode, etc.) ready, our art department can put everything together for label printing at an additional charge. Please contact us at 1-800-475-2235 to get specific pricing on our artwork related setup charges.