Adequate Documentation

Whether it's a complicated membrane switch or a simple blank label, proper documentation prevents errors. Too much documentation makes manufacturing and quality control very difficult, and ultimately increases the price of the final product. Too little documentation risks overlooking critical aspects of the specification. Focus on properly documenting these 5 characteristics, and you'll be well on your way to creating Adequate Documentation.

Concepts of Adequate Documentation


A picture of the label that shows the length, width, and radius corner of a label is always the starting point for "dimensioning" a part. This is typically done in a blueprint, but does not have to be that formal. In general, show a picture that describes all physical characteristics of what is being made, including the position and diameter of punches, interior cuts, etc. Do not apply dimensions to characteristics of the art that are aesthetic in nature, this is controlled in the artwork proofing process. However, you must put dimensions on aspects of the art that have a critical dimensional relationship to the edge of the label, or the housing on which it is applied. For example, LED windows, although incorporated into the art, must be dimensioned as if they were punched holes. Why? Because they always must align to a housing or sub-panel that itself is being made to close tolerances.


Material choices are usually made after some type of testing takes place, or in straightforward applications, by carefully matching known requirements with known performance characteristics. For instance, on flat aluminum, on which adhesion is easy, no testing would be required. On a curved low surface energy plastic, like polystyrene, testing would be appropriate. Once determined, the material will usually be specified on a blueprint. It is best to call out a specific material identification (spec number) rather than rely on general descriptions like "2 mil white polyester with acrylic adhesive".


Copy is the design and words that are actually printed on a label. Do not use a blueprint to specify the dimensions of the height of the copy or the spacing between lines Inevitably, the artist in conjunction with marketing will change the "look" to fit their tastes, and then the art will not match the blueprint. A color proof, or an artboard gives you the perfect tool to do Quality Control against the final product. When Steven Label creates art electronically, we will supply a color proof of the label, which can be used internally for Quality Control and approvals. In formal engineering environments, the artwork is often given an identification number which is then referenced in the print. In all cases, proofs and artboards should reference the part number of the label for which it is to be used.

Color Callout

Color callouts specify the colors that are to be printed. Usually the colors will be called out in a legend area on an artboard or on a color proof from Steven Label. At times, the blueprint will list the colors to be used. Often PMS colors are used to specify colors. All PMS books have 2 sets of similar colors printed on coated (C) and uncoated (U) stock. Make sure to specify U or C when referencing a PMS color. When printing on polycarbonate or polyester films, rather than paper or vinyl, PMS colors will look different. On critical silk screen printed parts, it is best for Steven Label to supply a color tolerance chart of the color printed on the actual material. This eliminates any possible disagreements over what defines an "acceptable" color match.

Color Breaks

Color breaks define which part of the copy is to print in which of the specified colors. It is best to do this in one of two ways. 1) A color proof from Steven Label will show the color breaks as they will actually appear on the label. 2) An artboard with overlays that has breaks called out in color. It is best NOT to show color breaks on a blueprint. Imagine describing the adjacent graphic in black and white - it's destined for failure. Any one color image must describe color breaks using a combination of arrows and descriptions that are often ambiguous. Descriptions like "All text blue, logo red, except where otherwise noted", increases the probability for errors, and are very difficult to update.