Design Guidelines

The Dieline – Your Key to Success

The first step to a successful shrink sleeve project is to request a dieline from Traco. The dieline is custom-sized to your product and will serve as the design template for your project. A sample container is required in order for Traco to produce a custom dieline for your project. Your sales rep can instruct you on submitting your container to Traco.

How to Use the Dieline

The dieline is provided as a PDF that you can import into your design software and use as a template. This dieline should be placed on a separate layer from your artwork. The dieline is always provided at 100% of actual size and should not be reduced or enlarged. The dieline contains the following information:

A) Layflat Size: This is the finished width of your sleeve after it is D seamed. The vertical lines of the layflat are where the sleeve will be folded. These folds can be moved horizontally across the sleeve, but must remain at least 20mm from the seam of the sleeve.

B) 2mm area of clear at the top and bottom of the sleeve.

C) Unseamed Width: The flat, unseamed web width of the film

D) Seam Overlap: this area will be covered by the overlapping film from the opposite side of the sleeve. This area can include background image, but should not include any important copy.

E) Fold Locations: The Layflat can be moved either left or right to accommodate your design, but this distance must be more than 20mm from the seam. To maintain the layflat size, the fold lines must remain the same distance apart if moved.

F) Clear Area: In order for the sleeves to be cut from the rolls on which they are produced, there must be a clear area between each repeat on the roll. The resulting 4mm of clear space between each repeat allows the sleeves to be cut accurately.

G) Project Specs: This area is used for listing the project specifications

H) Ink Swatches: All ink colors must be designated with a swatch. Add or remove colors as needed. Remember to designate all spot colors. On clear film, opaque white ink is required to print opaque colors. Swatches for all Pantone spot colors, metallic inks, varnishes and adhesives should be included.

I) Proof Approval: This area is used for your approval of the proof that Traco will provide prior to your sleeve being printed. A signed copy of the proof must be returned to Traco before any printing can begin.

J) Safe Area: This area (shown in green) is the safe area for your copy. Avoid placing important copy outside of this area. Background image can extend to the seam edges and clear areas as shown by the pink area. Items should not extend beyond the red lines. No bleed is required. Avoid placing barcodes and important copy on the layflat folds.

Plates / Spot Colors

You are limited to 10 total plates for gravure printed sleeves. This includes CMYK Process Colors, Pantone Spot Colors, Metallic Inks, Opaque White, Varnishes and Adhesives. Use SWOP standards for process colors and Pantone (PMS) Coated Solid colors for spot. Show all colors used as swatches on the dieline. If white ink is used as a flood of the entire print area, no white layer is needed.
If white is used other than a flood, use a contrasting color to show white ink coverage on a separate layer. Clear areas should also be shown in a contrasting color on a separate layer. Be sure color mode is set to CMYK, not RGB.

Design/Layout Application Software

Adobe Illustrator CS6 (.ai) is the preferred application for designing your shrink sleeves. We can also accept CorelDraw EPS files,
hi-res PDF files, QuarkXPress files and Adobe InDesign files with some limitations. Adobe PhotoShop is NOT an acceptable format for use in printing sleeves. It is, however excellent for editing photographic images that may be used on sleeves, but it should not be used for anything that contains type or vector graphics.

Submit files as Illustrator CS6 AI files whenever possible. Submit a PDF proof of your artwork also.

Placed Images

Place images as 300dpi, layered PhotoShop PSD when possible. DO NOT EMBED IMAGES. Include placed images with the art files. Use Bitmap (1-bit), Grayscale (8-bit), RGB (8-bit), or CMYK (8-bit) modes only.


Convert ALL type to curves (outline). If type changes are anticipated provide all font files with non-outlined document. Use Sanserif typefaces for small text. Avoid use of small script fonts that have fine serifs and swashes.

Positive Type

All positive type must be 6-point or larger for solid (single-ink) and 12-point or larger for CMYK process type. Limit CMYK
build type to 3 process colors or less. Consider using sans serif fonts for type smaller than 10-point.

6-point or larger single spot color or black

CMYK 3-color build or less 10-point or larger

No 4-color builds

Reversed Type

All reversed type must be 6-point or larger and bold face or heavier. Type that is thinner than bold face must have a 0.2 pt stroke added. Reversed type smaller than 12-point can only be reversed from one color and sans serif only. No CMYK process type smaller than 16-point. Small reversed type (> 6 pt.) can be reversed out of spot colors or spot colors can be used to outline the text.

Reversed from: Black (K only)

6-pt. Bold or larger

Reversed from: Single Spot Color

6-pt. Bold or larger

Reversed from: CMYK build (3-color only)

12-pt. Bold or larger

Reversed from: CMYK image

Not Recommended

Reversed from: CMYK image + spot color stroke

6-pt. Bold or larger with spot color outline (1.5pt outside stroke)


Remove all extra colors from the Adobe Illustrator Color Palette. Use only CMYK colors or Pantone
Coated Spot Colors. Be sure all spot colors are set as SPOT and not CMYK. Do not use RGB colors.


UPC codes and barcodes should be rotated so that the bars of the code are horizontal on the sleeve. This will help eliminate scanning errors caused by distortion when the sleeve is shrunk to the container.Barcodes must be backed by opaque white and the bars must be black (K) only. Barcodes must be vector artwork (lines and curves) and not bitmap images. Barcodes can be reduced up to 80% and bar height can be reduced as needed.