All about labeling beer bottles

It’s far easier than you think to put cool labels on your beer bottles. The tough part isn’t cutting them out or actually pasting them to the bottle. The tough part is printing the labels cheaply. Here’s what I do to get those colorful labels on all my bottles…

Design

You don’t need some expensive publishing software like Adobe InDesign or Publisher to make cool designs. You can do it on the Paint Program that comes with your computer if you’re savvy enough. I use PowerPoint. Here’s why…

  • It’s easy to copy and paste from other programs into PowerPoint
  • It’s easy to make banners, fancy texts, fancy borders, fancy backgrounds and cool effects like shadows and glowing.
  • It’s easy to move things from front to back without messing with complex things like layers and rasters.
  • You can easily print out several designs on one PowerPoint show and easily save-as a PDF to make printing even easier.

Printing

Here’s some things I learned about printing…

  • Use paper that is 28lb or heavier. But don’t go over 36lb or the paper will not be as flexible to fit on a round bottle.
  • Take a look at a commercial beer bottle. Some of the print is tiny. Don’t be afraid to make fine print. These days, printers can pick that stuff up.
  • Labels do not need to be big. They don’t need to wrap all the way around the bottle. You don’t need a neck wrapper. Just a small, square or rectangle label is fine.
  • Always do a “print preview” before printing. You don’t want to cut off your edges or anything.
  • “Fit to page” is a great feature. It will make your image as big as it will possibly fit to the page.
  • Convert to PDF before uploading to a print service or a printer. For some reason, PDF is just more portable between devices. You have very little chance of your special fonts or features being lost when you print from PDF versus PowerPoint.

Cutting

  • Cutting out your labels is a pain. But it’s worth it. Just sit down with a beer, some music and enjoy the mindless task with a loved one.
  • Don’t try to cut several sheets at once. It won’t turn out.
  • Don’t use an office paper cutter unless you’re VERY good at it. At don’t do several sheets at once. When you’re working with tiny images on little squares, it’s not like you’re just cutting a worksheet in half. You’re cutting little squares out of a sheet of paper. You don’t have much margin of error.

Application

It really depends on how much you want to spend.

  • One of the cheapest is to use milk as an adhesive. It sticks just fine. It doesn’t smell. Only drawback… they will fall off if they are immersed in water too long, like a cooler full of ice.
  • You can print on sticker-back paper. But it is expensive.
  • Try to remember where on your bottle is the upper-limit and lower limit. This way the label sits on each bottle the same way. Use a feature on the bottle like “One thumb-width from the bottom” as a guide so each bottle is consistent.

Damn you, Kinkos

Don’t use Kinkos. Use OfficeMax or Staples.

  • Kinko’s file uploader on their website is awful. It will distort all your image’s special features. You’ll lose things like color gradients, special fonts, etc. Kinkos staff will ask you to email your file to them. But then, you may lose the ability to do a print preview. One time, I did this and told them they were beer labels. They printed them on this ultra-expensive adhesive-backed paper and wanted to charge me for it.
  • Staples uploader works just fine. They are fast, friendly and less expensive than Kinkos. Staples has never cut off my images, lost resolution, made an order mistake or assumed anything. If they are unsure of what to do, they will ask. Staples also carriers plastic file crates for like 7$ which perfectly hold 2 12-pack boxes or 4 six-pack carriers.
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