Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Shrink Sleeve

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Shrink sleeves have been around for a while, but many designers have not had experience working within shrink sleeve templates and die lines. Based off our experience and customer feedback, below are the top 5 mistakes to avoid when designing a shrink sleeve.

Beware of High Shrink Areas

Before you start designing, consider the shape of the container you are using and what areas will shrink the most. For example, if you are covering a wine bottle with a shrink sleeve, the film will shrink more around the neck of the bottle than the base. That is because the shrink sleeve starts at one width and then shrinks down to hug the curves of the bottle, thus the material has to shrink more to reach the neck than the wider part of the bottle. Therefore, you want to avoid putting text or a busy graphic design around the neck of the bottle because it is a high shrink area and may result in the design looking smooshed or distorted.

Avoid Copy on the Fold Lines and Seam

The folds of the shrink sleeve are indicated by the dotted lines on the template below. Since the sleeves are folded prior to application, sometimes the fold lines can be slightly visible after they are applied. As a precaution, we recommend avoiding text on the fold lines. Additionally, you want to avoid text or graphics on the seamed area because that is where the material overlaps and adhesive is applied. As a helpful tool, we provide customers with a container specific template, like the one below, to make sure the graphics will look great once printed.


Remember, Shrink Sleeves Shrink!

When you are determining the size of elements on your shrink sleeve – like the brand name or logo – don’t forget that shrink film shrinks! Once you place your artwork into the shrink template, designs and text may need to be slightly larger to accommodate the shrink percentage. That way, your end graphics are the desired size after the film shrinks around the container.

Make the Most of the Design Space

Step outside the confines of a standard label and get creative with your shrink sleeves! Utilize the 360 degree canvas by developing graphics that wrap around the entire container. Designs that are continuous and fluid will make consumers want to pick up your product to see the rest of the art work. Also, if you are designing a shrink sleeve for a can, use the metallic of the can to replicate the look of foil by leaving some areas of the shrink sleeve transparent or less opaque.

Don’t Forget the Co-packer

If you are using a co-packer, send them your design to ensure there will be no special eye-marks needed for their equipment to accurately apply the shrink sleeves. Having the co-packer check the art work prior to printing is a great way to catch potential issues before the sleeves are printed.

Keeping these 5 things in mind will help you create a great shrink sleeve design for your brand, while avoiding common mistakes. For more information, contact our shrink sleeve expert Perla Soto at