Your Label Size Guide: How To Choose Label Size for Bottles
What size bottle label do you need for your new product? Several factors – including the size of the bottle, the usable space, and the number of labels needed – determine the label size. You also need to account for small inconsistencies in printing and labeling, too.
Here’s what you should consider when determining product label sizes for bottles.
Where Can I Put Labels On My Bottles?
It can be hard to find the best label placement for round bottles, especially since pressure-sensitive labels wrinkle when applied to curved surfaces. However, they can be applied to tapered surfaces as long as they’re designed around this shape.
For example, if you’re applying a label on the tapered neck of a beer bottle, the top of the label must be narrower than the bottom. While the bodies of glass bottles have flat surfaces, plastic bottles have a slight taper to help them release from molds. Even though this angle may only be a couple of degrees, it’s enough to cause problems when not considered during label design.
Most bottles have a flat body, giving you ample space to apply a single wrap-around label or a front and back label. Complex bottle shapes usually have a large flat or tapered surface that works with pressure-sensitive labels. For example, the top half of a Chianti bottle is slanted with a curved bottom. You can only apply a pressure-sensitive label around the top half. While this limits coverage, it isn’t noticeable if the bottle is in a traditional basket.
Common Label Sizes for Wine Bottles
Wine bottle shapes can trace their names back to their original use. Here are the maximum heights for wine labels based on the five most common bottle sizes:
Champaign – 4 inches
Alsace, Burgundy, and Rhone – 4 ½ inches
Bordeaux – 6 ½ inches
Common wine bottle label sizes include 3.5 x 4 inches, 4 x 4 inches, 5 x 5 inches, and 4 x 6 inches. For half bottles (375 mL), the standard label size is around 3 1/8 x 2 ¼ inches. These sizes are readily available from label printers. Other sizes may need to be custom-cut to fit your application.
Standard Sizes for Craft Soda and Beer Labels
Of the dozen or so core bottle designs used for beer bottling today, only half are used regularly.
There are three main bottle styles used for 12 oz. servings of beer and craft sodas. Long-neck bottles are also called Industry Standard Bottles (ISBs) due to their popularity. Heritage bottles are slightly larger and have shorter necks. Stubby bottles are even wider and have almost no neck. Despite their differences in shape, all three bottle styles have enough space for a 3 ¾ x 8 1/8 inch label.
Belgian bottles have flip tops and hold 375 mL or 12.7 ounces. Bombers, also called large format bottles, are mostly reserved for limited-release beers. These hold 22 ounces. Both bottles have space for a 5 x 8-inch label.
The industry calls 32-ounce bottles “mini growlers,” but these go under several other names, including “grumblers,” “howlers,” and “growlettes.” These have enough space for a 4 x 6-inch label. A full-size growler holds 64 ounces with space for a 4 x 7-inch label.
Label Size Choices for Spirit Bottles
There are several choices when it comes to spirit bottles. However, for a standard rectangular 750 mL bottle, the most common label sizes are a single 4 x 6-inch wrap-around label or a pair of 3 ½ x 4 ¾ inch labels for the front and back of the bottle.
Measuring Your Bottles and Creating a Mockup
While there are standard bottle and label sizes, you may encounter slight dimensional differences between models. If you want to use a less common shape to help your products stand out on the shelf, it’s up to you to figure out what works best for coverage and availability. Fortunately, it’s easy to take a few measurements or build a quick mockup of your label. All you need is a flexible tape or ruler, like a tailor measuring tape. Pair this with a pen or pencil, some paper, and a pair of scissors, and you can make a quick draft for your label design.
First, use a tape measure to determine the weight and circumference of the bottle’s body. Transfer these measurements to the paper, then cut the paper to your desired shape. When you create your label, you need to add a 1/8-1/4 inch gap between the label and the edges of the bottle. This allows some leeway if there are slight imperfections in the bottle shape, the labels, or the application.
Wrap the paper around the bottle and see how it fits. Trim the label as needed. If you notice the mockup wants to skew, your bottles may have slight taper or shape imperfections. Be sure to bring this up with your label manufacturer.
Getting Your Bottle Label Template Ready for New Products
A designer and label manufacturer can help you determine your final design and label template. They consider bottle tapering and surface imperfections, creating a label shaped for your bottles. It’s important to get proofs before you place your order. Due to the different ways LCD screens and printing create color, an image on your computer may not match the look of the full color finished label.
If you’re packaging alcohol, you usually need a Certificate Of Label Approval (COLA) from the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). However, some low-alcohol beverages may fall under the jurisdiction of other agencies, like the FDA. Sodas, teas, and other non-alcoholic beverages are FDA regulated. You don’t need to get prior approval from this agency, but your label does need to comply with labeling rules to avoid fines. Not sure where to start? Our blog has articles covering information requirements and best practices for several types of beverages.
How Do Custom Labels Affect Labeling Speed?
If you only use a single label on your bottles, your labeling speed ultimately determines your production speed. However, if you’re using multiple labels, staging bottles for each applicator adds significantly to processing time. In this case, pieces-per-minute becomes the most important performance factor. For example, our vertical trunnion roller system separates label application into stages, including tamper-proof, wrap, and front and back labels. A machine using all the available label options is capable of speeds up to 45 PPM.
A label applicator can increase production speed by eliminating the need for a manual or “DIY” application. Plus, automatic (or semi-automatic) labelers are more accurate, providing a high-quality product. Automatic labelers can apply a variety of label materials (ex: matte, clear, glossy) with different application methods (ex: tamp, wipe-on, air blow). Have questions on label application — CTM Labeling Systems can help. Check out our FAQ page!
Start Designing Your Custom Label Applicator
Ready to put new labels on your bottles? CTM Labeling Systems has the equipment you need for reliable, consistent application that fits your production system. Contact us to be put in touch with a local distributor. They’ll help you find and design the right label application system for your business.