Please note that it makes good sense to check your label design (and spelling) before sending them to us - corrections or modifications made after a job is entered will incur extra charges, as we need to repeat the entire prepress process to incorporate the new files.
Software Supported (Mac and PC versions)
Adobe Photoshop - versions up to and including Creative Cloud
Adobe Illustrator - versions up to and including Creative Cloud
Adobe InDesign - versions up to and including Creative Cloud
For all customized labels,the preferred format is a PDF file with all fonts converted to outlines, as this is the format we use to print on our digital presses. Please see our explanation of the font outlining process and our preferred methods of creating a pdf.
If you are creating multiple print label and sticker designs, please send each design (or version) as its own file to optimize the prepress process.
Full Bleeds and Layout Requirements
A full bleed is when the color “bleeds” off the edge of the label. If your label design or background color is intended to cover the entire surface of the label, we will need a 1/16" (0.0625") bleed off the edge of the label. For example, if you have a 2” x 1” label where the color bleeds off the edges, you should size your design to 2.125" x 1.125"- this ensures a 1/16” bleed around the entire label. Please see the explanation of bleeds for further information All designs should have at least 1/16" to 1/8" (0.0625" to .125") of clear space (no significant design elements or text) inside the dieline to allow for slight shifts during die-cutting. Please see the explanation of clear space for further information.
Image mode and resolution are extremely important to ensure correct color and clarity. All raster (image-based) files need to have a resolution of 300 dpi. at actual printed size. Our presses print in CMYK - all RGB images will be converted to CMYK, which can cause extreme shifts in color. If in doubt, please request a press proof (shipping charges and a delay in product ship date will apply), which allows you to see how the finished print labels will look before going into production.
Top 10 Product Label Artwork Mistakes
Every day we receive scores of different artwork files for custom label printing. Many times, the art received is correct but often there are problems that need to be addressed before we can move forward with printing. We have prepared a list of the most common mistakes that people make when preparing their artwork. If you avoid these mistakes you will save yourself a great deal of time, energy and expense. These are the 10 mistakes we see most often:
1. Missing Fonts
This has been a common problem with artwork since we moved to digital file preparation almost two decades ago. You might have this wonderful fancy font in your artwork, but if we don’t have it,we cannot open your file to make any minor adjustments that may be needed. The best way around this is to outline your fonts before sending us your file. Save your fileunder a different name (e.g. Hot Salsa_OUTLINED.pdf) so that you retain a current version that is NOT outlined. You cannot edit text AFTER it has been converted to outlines.
2. Missing Bleed
If you want your color to print all the way to the edge of your product label you need to include a bleed. A bleed is where elements- including color or backgrounds- run off the edge of a printed piece. This area is removed on the finished product and eliminates the risk of a white “leak” to appear around the edge if the diecut shifts. If you want to print a 3" x 5" label, the size of the artwork you would create should be 3.125" x 5.125". It is necessary to leave some space around the very edge of your label that is free of text. During diecutting the label material can drift slightly (up to 1/32"). Please make allowances for this in your artwork.
3. RGB vs CMYK
Most digital color printers today (including your little desktop inkjet) print in CMYK, also known as four color process. Computer monitors display color as RGB (Red-Green-Blue). If you create your file for the RGB color space, the color is going to look different when printed on a CMYK printer, so it is always a good idea to create your artwork as CMYK. Please request a press proof if exact colors are critical. (shipping charges and a delay in product ship date will apply)
4. Improper File Resolution
Many times people send us a file of a picture or graphic that was on a website expecting it to look as good as it does on their screen. Unfortunately, in most cases the file on the web site is of very low resolution (72dpi) and will look pixellated. We recommend a resolution of 300 dpi for best results.
5. Tight Borders
If you want a thin border on your labels that prints near the edge, or bleeds off the edge- the results can be undesirable. Label production technology has advanced a great deal, but there is still some slight movement when die-cutting your labels. This movement is only a fraction of an inch, if the border is near the edge of the label-it will be noticeable. We suggest making the borders more than 4 points thick. Following this tip will make the movement much less noticeable.
6. Spelling and Typing Mistakes
This should go without saying, but it is seen so often, we feel the need to include it here. We may notice mistakes- it is up to you to check your artwork carefully. You can never proofread enough. When you are sure it is correct- check it one more time. You can save yourself disappointment and expense by spending extra time making sure all your text is correct before your label goes into production.
7. Missing Graphics/Links
If you are using a newer version of Photoshop or Illustrator (CS and newer) this is less of a problem, but for people using older versions it is still a major issue. All your graphic elements should be embedded into your document before sending them to us, otherwise if we need to open your file there may be missing graphics or links.
8. Unsupported Software Format
There are many different software programs you can use to design your labels. A trip to your local office supply will offer plenty of inexpensive choices. These packages typically use proprietary formats that are designed to be used only on your desktop printer from within that piece of software. Most of these packages will not produce results suitable for commercial printing. We have artwork requirements on our web site, but your results will be much better if you use the graphic industry standard programs: Adobe Creative Suite. These packages create high quality art that will produce the best quality custom labels. If you don’t have this software, you must be able to export into a standard graphics format such as PDF, EPS,PNG, AI, TIF or a hi-res JPEG (at 100% size).
9. Color Expectations
Many people create their label artwork and expect their labels to look exactly like their inkjet or laser print. Anyone who has used more than one printer knows that color can look vastly different between printers. If color is critical we recommend you request a press proof - this way you will see exactly what your labels will look like when printed.
10. Incorrectly Sized Artwork
We often receive artwork that does not match the size of the requested label. This may be intentional- but without instructions, we cannot correctly process the artwork. Is extra white space needed? Is the label supposed to be centered, or should we be scaling orcropping the label to make it fit the desired size? If your artwork is a different size than the requested label please include detailed instructions with your order. We see files every day that contain one or more of these mistakes. Avoiding these common pitfalls when creating your artwork will ensure your order is processed most efficiently and you will receive the high-quality result that you are expecting. If you have questions about any of the points discussed here, please let us know- we are happy to help you. If you are unsure about your art file, email it to us with your concerns and we will review it or give us a call and we will do our best to answer your questions. It is always best to take extra time before submitting your artwork and avoid making any of these common mistakes.