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Print Labels: Artwork Specifications

Please note that it makes good sense to check your print labels design (and spelling) before sending them to us - corrections or modifications made after the proofing stage will incur extra charges, as we need to repeat the entire pre-press process to incorporate the new files.

Software Supported (Mac and PC versions)

  • Adobe Photoshop - versions up to and including CS6
  • Adobe Illustrator - versions up to and including CS6

For all customized labels our strongly preferred format is an Adobe Illustrator EPS file with all fonts converted to outlines, as this is the format we print directly from on our digital presses. Click here for an explanation of the font outlining process.


If you're creating multiple print label and sticker designs, please send each design (or version) individually in its own file to optimize the pre-press process and avoid manipulation errors.


The easiest way to send us files is via email. We can receive email attachments up to about 10 Megabytes, but keep in mind that your outbound email server may have smaller limits. If you're sending many files and/or email proves to be unreliable, you can also upload files to our secure FTP site – please contact us for details. If none of these options are workable for you, please burn a CD-ROM and send it to us.

Full Bleeds and Layout requirements

A full bleed is when the color “bleeds” off the label. If your label design or background color is intended to cover the entire surface of the label, please note that we need a 1/16" (0.0625") bleed around each 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" as this ensures a 1/16” bleed around the entire label. Click here for a detailed example of bleeds.

It's also wise to leave at least 1/16" (0.0625") of clear space (i.e. no significant design elements or text) inside the die-line to allow for slight shifts during die-cutting.
Click here for a detailed example of clear space layouts.

Other Considerations

Being an all-digital label printer, 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 d.p.i. at actual size. Our presses handle CMYK mode only - all RGB images will be converted, which can cause extreme shifts in color. If in doubt, please take advantage of our free press proof offer, which allows you to see how the finished print labels will look before going into production.

Additional Resources

Die Lines for Special Label Shapes
How Die Cutting Works
Top 10 Label Artwork Mistakes

Top 10 Label Artwork Mistakes for Customized Labels

Print Labels From Lightning Labels

Every day we receive dozens, sometimes hundreds, of different artwork files for custom label printing. Sometimes the art we receive is perfect but often there are problems that need to be addressed before we can move forward with printing. So we have prepared a list of the most common mistakes that people make when preparing their artwork. If you take care to avoid these mistakes you will save yourself a great deal of time, energy and money. Here are our top 10 label artwork mistakes:

1. Missing Fonts

This has been a common problem with artwork since we moved to digital file preparation over a decade ago. You might have this wonderful fancy font in your artwork, but if we don"t have it, when we open your file we will get an error message. The best way around this is to always outline your fonts before sending us your file.

... Continue reading Top 10 Label Artwork Mistakes.