How to Measure a Container (PLUS: Label Size Calculator)


Determining a size for your custom labels is an important consideration because it influences how much space is allowed for artwork and how much your labels will cost. The tricky part, however, is figuring out how to measure a bottle or container to get a label size. That’s where we can help. We’ve printed custom labels for different types of bottles and created this handy label size calculator and step-by-step guide to help you find the perfect label size.

We offer a variety of bottle labels, as well as head-turning shrink sleeve labels with 360 degree graphics coverage. 

Label Size Calculator – Round Bottles

How to Measure Round Bottles (Beer, Water, Wine)

Measure the Diameter

  • Measure the bottom face of the bottle from one side to the other with a flat ruler. This is your bottle diameter.
  • Multiply the diameter by pi (3.14), and the resulting number is your circumference. This is the width of your label.

We recommend taking off between 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch from the circumference. When applying the label to your bottle, this results in a gap between the ends of the label. That means you don’t have to worry about lining up the ends perfectly, especially if the application process is being done by hand.
TIP! If you don’t have a measuring tape available, you can always use a sheet of paper. Simply wrap the paper around the bottle and mark where it overlaps with a pencil. With a ruler, measure the distance between the end of the paper and the mark to determine the label’s width.

Measuring Rectangular or Square Shaped Bottles

  • Measure only the side of the bottle where the label will be applied. Then, take your ruler and measure the height and width of the surface area.
  • The height and width (known as “across by around” in label printing terms) are how the dimensions of a label are stated. Ex: A label that is two inches tall and wraps around a container by four inches would be expressed as 2 x 4.
  • It’s recommended that you subtract about 1/8th of an inch from the width and height measurements to better ensure the label fits properly within the surface area when applied.

Measuring Tapered and Uniquely Shaped Bottles

Containers that have a taper or unique contours can be difficult to measure. To determine if your bottle is tapered, simply take a straight-edge, such as an index card or ruler, and place it alongside the container’s edge. If you can see even a small gap between the straight edge and the container, the bottle is tapered.

Tapered bottles can require more advanced tools of measuring – we recommend sending a sample bottle to our customer service department to guarantee an accurately sized label. Check out our video on labeling tapered containers to learn more!


Shrink Sleeve Labels

With their 360° coverage graphics, shrink sleeve labels work well with irregularly shaped containers and can conform to almost all container shapes and label designs. Adding shrink sleeves to your packaging design can improve your product’s visual appeal and make a better lasting impression.

Since shrink sleeves aren’t applied like other types labels (they’re shrunken to the container using heat), we must test the film material using our in-house steam tunnel with a grid sleeve test. Please ask our customer service department for measuring and grid-testing.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2007 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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