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Label Printing and Borders

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Printing labels with borders is easier said then done. Every print and cut mechanism has something called a registration shift which, even at a fraction of an inch can make a border look uneven. For this reason, we often suggest avoiding borders if at all possible. However, there are a few steps you can take when designing your label to get acceptable results if having a border is a design necessity.

If your border is going to reach the edge of the label, extend the border 1/8” inch inside the cut line. This makes the border thick enough that any registration shift should not be noticeable. The thinner the border, the more noticeable the shift and the more the border may look uneven.

If your border is not going to reach the edge of the label, there needs to be 1/8” inch between the edge of the label and the outer edge of the border. This is a standard bleed margin for most printers, and will also give enough room so that if there is a registration shift the “border” created by the empty space will not look uneven.

What does registration shift mean?

Almost every printing method is subject to slight registration shift during the printing and cutting process. The image below shows how this slight shift can affect the borders that are printed over the edge of a label. For this reason, we often recommend removing borders from the very edge of the label design or insetting the border at least 1/8″ from the label’s edge.

The human eye is so perceptive that even a fractional shift will be visible making the border look out of alignment – thicker on one side than the other. This is especially true with thin borders and less so with very thick borders. If you have an outside border in your artwork, we generally make our recommendations about revising your artwork ahead of time. We generally find that labels look nicer without edge borders, regardless of registration shift.

Registration shift with borders

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