Artwork Guidelines

designTo manufacture good quality labels it is essential that professional artwork is used that meets minimum industry standards.

Its an old saying, but ‘rubbish in – rubbish out!

To help our clients and their design houses we’ve set out the core requirements for artwork files to ensure a trouble free workflow that will produce great results for you and your client.  If its easier you can download these guidelines as a PDF here.

Artwork Format

We recommend using vector based Graphics software such as illustrator CS6/CC or Corel Draw. Vector software will ensure that your finished product is higher quality than is achievable with raster based artwork such as photoshop. It also enables better flexibility when colour matching to previously printed labels from other suppliers as the colours in the design are easily altered and edited.

Files should be exported as an editable vector PDF format with all images and fonts embedded, not just a jpeg saved as a PDF file, a jpeg is not acceptable for most designs. If the fonts are unable to be embedded the best option is to convert the text to outline paths instead, files with missing fonts will cause problems and delays with your orders. Any raster/photographic images within your design should be at least 300dpi otherwise they may appear pixelated once printed, most graphics pulled from a website are not good enough quality for print purposes.

This graphic shows characteristics of good artwork.

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Cutter Guides

We need our customers to create a “Cutter Guide” to show us exactly where to cut your labels correctly. These lines are later removed in the studio before going onto the press, however, it is important that these are set correctly to avoid them being printed. When you supply a cutter guide within your artwork, please make sure the cutter guide is a stroked line set to a spot colour which MUST be named “7” at the actual size and shape that you require us to cut. This allows our pre-press software and our presses to see the cutter guide and stops them being printed. Setting the cutter guide correctly will save time and may avoid the need for us to charge for time in graphics.

Safe Area

In a similar way as bleed will help us to produce your design into a finished label there are other considerations such as slight movements on the finishing lines. An important issue is the positioning of text and other design elements.

There should always be a “safe area” of at least 1.5mm inside the edge of the cutter guide where no text or important elements are located. This will stop text from becoming chopped off by the cutter with the same slight movement during finishing.



When creating the design for your labels you need to think about the cutting of the design and how this will be achieved.

If your artwork touches the edge of the label this can cause a problem when the artwork is not setup correctly, slight movement in the finishing line may cause a gap in your print to appear at the edge of the label once cut. To eliminate this from happening we need to add an area called “Bleed” . Bleed is the area which extends over the edges of the cut label and allows for slight movement on the finishing line making sure the label does not have a white edge once cut. We ask our customers to create a 1.5mm bleed on each edge of the artwork, e.g. The artwork should be 3mm wider and taller than the required label size. A label size of 76 x 51mm should be designed on an artboard that measures 79 x 54mm.

Finishing and Materials

Certain substrates may darken or lighten the colours of your artwork once printed, if printing onto a brown antique paper it will have an impact on the design colours. Different finishes will also affect the colour, Matt varnish can dull colours and gloss lamination can increase the brightness. If you are unsure how these would impact your design, we would recommend a printed press proof to see the different materials and finishes available for a small cost.

award winning Penlon labels

Metallic colours

Our digital presses use CMYK toner to create a range of metallic colours in print, using metallic pantones in your artwork design does not help us to achieve metallic colour when on the press. We create our metallic colours by printing CMYK toner onto silver polypropylene creating various metallic colours. Where your design does not need to be metallic we have to create a white plate to flatten the silver. White plates are made by creating a layer above the artwork, with a spot colour named “5” set to overprint. Whenever our press sees this colour it will print white toner under the CMYK artwork.

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Clear materials

When printing CMYK toner onto clear materials the colours can appear transparent, to make them less transparent we need to print white underneath the coloured areas of print. White plates are made by creating a layer above the artwork, with a spot colour named “5” set to overprint. Whenever our press sees this colour it will print white toner under the CMYK artwork.

Pricing Guide

If customer artwork passes through our sophisticated pre-flight software checking software confirming that it meets our requirements then we do not charge for artwork handling.

If however a file does not pass it will need work to make print ready for label printing. You are welcome to do this yourself or with your packaging designer, or alternatively we offer Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum services to fix files depending on the amount of work required.


Examples of great label design

Take a look here for some examples of labels we have printed. You can follow this link or the gallery link in the header of every page.

Get Inspired

After you have visited our gallery of labels you could also try these great resources to ‘get inspired’ to create your own amazing label. There are plenty of label design inspirations around the internet, here are just a few of those we have found helpful or informative:

5 Steps to Designing a Great Label for your Product

Our 5 steps to designing the perfect label offer some of our best tips of what to include and what to leave out. We help you establish the information you need, the graphics to go with the information and great tips on different materials, shapes, sizes and finishes.

Click on each step title to reveal our top tips to designing the perfect label.

Step 1 - Correct Information & Message
Before you start with the actual visual design of the label, you need to consider the message you wish to put across and what information you want to include.

Chances are your product labels will have a limited amount of space to utilise so selecting the correct information now will save time in the next few steps. Some of the most important things to think about including on your labels are:

  • Company name & registration number
  • Contact details (Address, Phone Number, Email)
  • Ingredients or Additives
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Product Name
  • Product Description
  • Barcode
  • Weight
  • Batch Number
  • Country of Origin
  • Use by/Best before dates
  • Additional Information

To get across the correct message with your label you need to consider your target demographic. Are they male or female, or is your product unisex or aimed at both sexes? What age group will be using your product? What location is your product sold in?

This is the stage you should answer all of the above questions before moving on. If you don’t know who is going to use your product, you could do some market research and find out this before you start designing.

Step 2 - Size & Shape
Labels come in all shapes and sizes. Picking the correct size and shape for your product packaging can make all the difference. If the packaging for your product is circular you could consider if you want a label to wrap all the way around, or if you want a separate front and back panel design.

You could design your label to be an unusual shape to make your label stand out from the competition. Think about how the text will look on the label and maybe have your unusual shape flow past the text.

Look at the graphics that will be created and see if there are breaks in the design that could be taken away to show some of the packaging through.

You could browse the competitions labels to see what shapes they have used. Something a little different may help you stand out.

Step 3 - Fonts & Legibility
Picking the correct fonts to sell your product is essential. You need to pick a font that is legible so try to pick serif and sans-serif fonts rather than scripted fonts that are more difficult to read. Remember you want to get your message across quickly but still make the correct connection with your customers.

You could look at some free fonts at places like The League of Movable TypeDaFont, or 1001 Free Fonts. Some of the more exclusive fonts can be purchased at places like MyFonts or Adobe Fonts.

Once you have selected a legible font to use you need to make sure the size of the font is readable. Think back to Step 1 where you researched your target demographic. If you are targeting a certain age group your fonts and their legibility will be vital. If your target age group is 8-14 years old you may use a ‘fun’ font with a quirky layout. But if your target group is 50+ you may choose to use a more formal font that is not too small.

Your graphic designer will know all about typography and will be able to complete this during the design stage.

Step 4 - Graphics & Colours
Designing a great label that makes people want to pick your product up over the competitions can be an arduous job, especially if you don’t seek professional help. If you can, employ a graphic designer or design agency to create your label design.

Should you decide to employ a designer talk through the elements of the design with them. You should both agree on what information you want to include from Step 1 and then let the designer create a stunning label.

The graphics & colours in your label should stand out from the competition and make prospective clients want to choose your brand over the competition. Take a look at what sort of style your competitors use, if their product is successful, ask yourself and the designer “Why is their product selling well?”. Don’t copy the competition, but be inspired by them and learn what you think they have done right or wrong.

There are some great online tools that can help you decide on a colour scheme should you need it. Adobe KulerColourLovers and ColorBlender

Step 5 - Materials & Finishes
Currently we have many different types of material and 4 different finishes. That means that you need to consider what your label is going to be printed on and how you want your label to be viewed by potential customers. Common material choices inclued white, textured or clear labels.

Clear labels are great for showing off the packaging of your product especially if the packaging is an interesting colour. Clear labels also allow you to create different shaped labels by leaving areas in the design to remain clear.

For help on making this decision you could speak to our sales team, they can be found on the contact page under the ‘Contact Sales Directly’ tab.