Designing A Label Template – Top Tips For…Rectangular Labels

This week, we’re taking a quick look at our top tips for designing RECTANGULAR LABELS.

TOP TIP NUMBER ONE: check if your labels have rounded (radius) corners or square cut corners.
Square cut corner rectangles have sharp, pointed corners naturally formed by two sides meeting at a 90° angle, while rounded corner rectangles have curved corners that form an arc – the corner radius can vary from a very rounded corner to a very slight arc at the extreme of each corner.

Generally speaking, there isn’t much difference between designing a rounded corner rectangle and a square cut corner rectangle unless you are trying to create a border or shaped element within your design that follows the outline of your labels (radius corners included) exactly.

The other thing to consider is that rounded corner rectangles tend to have selvedges and gaps between (some of) the labels as part of their layout. This means that you are less likely to run into problems with the printable area of your printer (see top tip number 2) or when printing full coloured backgrounds (see top tip number 3) if you are using rounded corner rectangles rather than square cut corner rectangles.

At Label Planet, we specify whether a product has rounded corners or square cut corners in the product description on the individual product page for each item that we supply. Our rectangular paper labels are also sold through two separate range pages; Rectangular Labels With Rounded Corners and Rectangular Labels With Square Cut Corners.

TOP TIP NUMBER TWO: check if your labels have selvedges.
A selvedge is a blank area at the edge of a sheet of labels. This area is used to help make sure that most (if not all) of the surface area of each label falls within the “printable area” of an A4 sheet.

Most desktop printers CANNOT print all the way to the edge of an A4 sheet of paper, creating both a “printable area” (in the middle of the sheet) and an “unprintable area” (around the edges of the sheet).

While rounded corner rectangles tend to have selvedges built in to their layouts by default, some square cut corner rectangles are made by simply dividing the full area of an A4 sheet into equally sized rectangles – meaning that part of some of the labels will inevitably fall into the “unprintable area”.

If your labels don’t have selvedges OR if your printer’s printable area doesn’t extend as far as the selvedge that is present on your label sheets, there are a few easy workarounds you can try:

  1. Avoid using full colour backgrounds (so the coloured elements of your design – that actually require print to be added to your labels – will fall into the printable area of your sheets).
  2. Reduce the size of your overall design (so it fits into the printable area of your sheets).
  3. Choose a different label size! It is more than likely that there will be a similar label size available – just with rounded corners.
  4. Get access to a printer with an “Edge-To-Edge” or “Borderless” print setting (this allows the printer to print the full area of an A4 sheet).

We list layout measurements for all of our label sizes on our individual template pages so you can use the page margins to check how much blank space there is at each edge of a particular sheet of labels. Our square cut corner rectangles with selvedges at the top and bottom of each sheet also have an “S” after the first part of the product code (e.g. LP10/105S, LP16/105S DF, LP21/70S MWPO etc).

It is worth checking the page margins of square cut corner rectangles AND rounded corner rectangles because some rounded corner sizes do sit quite close to the edges of their sheets.

If your printer does not have an “Edge-To-Edge” or “Borderless” print setting, you may be able to find the printable area of your printer by visiting the manufacturer’s website or checking your printer’s manual. Alternatively, you can use this quick-fix method to check for yourself:

  1. Open a blank Word document.
  2. Go to the “Layout” tab, click on “Margins” and “Custom Margins”, and change the Top/Bottom/Left/Right margins to 0.
  3. Click on the “Insert” tab, and use the “Shapes” option to add a rectangle that fills the ENTIRE page of your blank document.
    Top Tip: change the colour of the rectangle to a light colour to avoid wasting too much ink/toner.
  4. Print your document (ignore any warnings that your margins are too small and DO NOT allow Word to automatically “fix” your margins).
  5. Your printed sheet will now indicate how much of an A4 sheet your printer can print (i.e. its printable area) and how much it cannot print (i.e. its unprintable area).

TOP TIP NUMBER THREE: take care with full colour backgrounds and borders.
There are very few rectangular label sizes that feature gaps between the rows AND columns of labels; while this isn’t an issue for most people, it can become problematic if you are trying to add a full colour background and/or border to your label design. This is because it can be tricky to get a standard printer to print EVERY label in EXACTLY the right position on your label sheets; if the alignment is even slightly out, you can end up with part of your label design overlapping the edge(s) of your labels and (if your labels don’t have gaps between them) partially printing on another label.

If the edges of your label design are all the same colour, then you might be able to get away with a very slight misalignment BUT if the edges change colour at all then any misalignment will show up when you remove a label from its backing sheet.

Usually, the way to sidestep this problem is to use of “bleed areas”; i.e. to deliberately overlap your design into a blank space around each label so that the full colour background or border extends beyond all of the edges of your labels (preventing both white edging and overlapping onto neighbouring labels).

As mentioned, however, most rectangular sizes don’t have gaps between the labels; while rounded corner rectangles tend to have gaps between the columns of labels, both rounded corner and square cut corner rectangles will have at least some labels that “butt up” against each other along one or more of their sides.

This means that if you are struggling with your alignment, you may need to try:

  1. Changing your design so that the background and/or border are uniform in colour all the way around each label (so it is possible to disguise any slight overlap).
  2. Reduce the size of your design to create a blank/white border around the edges of your labels.
  3. Remove the coloured background and/or border from your label design altogether.
  4. Choosing a different label size! There may be a close label size that does feature gaps between all of the labels.
  5. Take your labels to a professional printer; they will have access to printers that offer a higher level of precision than standard desktop printers (allowing them to recreate your design with enough accuracy to prevent any noticeable overlap).

TOP TIP NUMBER FOUR: use your alignment tools to keep your label design organised.
Many rectangular label designs will contain a number of different elements or areas within the design, such as a space for a company logo, an address, a message, health and safety warnings, contents, or even a blank space to add information.

To keep all of those elements under control within one label design, you can use alignment tools to assign each element a particular alignment to help keep it out of the way of other elements in your design.

For example, while it’s always best to use a central alignment for your overall template, you can alter the alignment for individual items to make sure that items that should be on the left of your design are always positioned to the left, while items that should be on the right of your design are always positioned to the right.

Remember, if you are including multiple elements in your label design and you are using Word, you should change the “Wrap Text” option for images and shapes to “Tight” (or “In Front Of Text”) and consider using text boxes if you want to be able to precisely position separate sections of text.


You can find templates and material options for all of our rectangular label sizes on our Templates For Rectangular Labels With Rounded Corners and Templates For Rectangular Labels With Square Cut Corners pages.

Next Week On Template Tuesday: Designing A Label Template – Top Tips For…Round Labels & Oval Labels

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