Skip to main content

How Big Should Your Labels Be?

Editor's Note: This is the third article in a seven-part series. This content is also available in the white paper, An Introduction to Product Labeling. You may download this very informative guide to product labeling free of charge as a printable PDF file, courtesy of Lightning Labels.


Only you can decide the answer to that question. Take each container and try to visualize the finished product — indeed, it’s useful to hand-cut some blanks from ordinary paper and experiment with various sizes before deciding what looks good to you. Some useful tips to consider …

Depending on the size and shape of the container, you may need more than one label — many products have a "marketing label" on the front (with nice images and/or marketing material) and a "back label" that contains all the ingredients or other supporting data like regulatory information. Alternatively, it’s often possible to combine those two styles into a single design — it’s completely up to you. Also consult your label printer to see which approach is more cost-effective — while cost might not ultimately be the deciding factor, you should at least know the impact your decision will have on the overall cost-to-market.

    • Tip — If you do decide to go with two labels, it’s usually more cost-effective to keep them the same size if you can (particularly if you’re using a Digital print-shop, which is discussed later in this document). By using the same size and shape, it’s often possible to "gang" multiple designs into a single print-run, thereby achieving substantial cost savings.
    • Tip — Another factor in the "label size" decision is whether your label printer already has a cutting "die" of that particular size. A die is a metal device that cuts the labels after printing (similar to a cookie-cutter in concept) — if your label printer needs to get a special die made to cater to your need, that can add some hundreds of dollars to the overall cost. Hence, you may decide to accept a slightly different size if it will still work with your packaging and label design. Consult your label printer for sizes already in stock.
    • Tip — Don’t get too far into the design phase until you have chosen the label size(s). While designers can re-size artwork if necessary, this frequently incurs extra time and cost — and may even affect the layout to such an extent that the design needs to be started again.

The shape of the label is also important to consider. While most label printers have an array of common shapes and sizes (circles, rectangles, ovals etc), your product or container may benefit from a unique shape. For instance, a regular rectangular label may not work on a "tapered" container — so once again experiment with hand-cut blanks to achieve the fit you require. If your label printer doesn’t have a die already made to that specific size/shape, you should ask for a quote to have the die made and factor that cost into your decision whether or not to pursue that approach. Keep in mind that die costs vary widely depending on the cutting equipment being used by the printer — so don’t assume that all printers will quote the same die costs.

Continue Reading An Introduction to Product Labeling or Read Part 2 of This Seven-Part Series.