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Copy Text in Labeling

October 20, 2016

Copy refers to written material, in contrast to photographs or other elements of layout, in a large number of contexts, including magazines, advertising, and books. In advertising, web marketing and similar fields, copy refers to the output of copywriters, who are employed to write material which encourages consumers to buy goods or services.

In Labeling, copy is the text that goes on the Artwork or Label and includes marketing claims, ingredients, address, phone number, etc. Every piece of text is part of the copy and is an essential input to the designer. Get the copy wrong and the Artwork is bound to be rejected at some point in the approval cycle.

Most often designers struggle with constantly changing copy text. Marketing is notorious in making last minute changes to the text and resetting the approval process. The copy is also part of a bigger Brief document which might include artwork and print specifications and instructions.

Even though there is no global standard for capturing copy-text content, some organizations have put together an Excel or Word based template that suits their requirement. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has come up with a template for copy-text that goes on pack designs and labels called the Quality Review of Documents (QRD) which is used widely in EU. However, for the rest of the industry and markets there is no standard template. In the Food and Cosmetics industries there is even less standardization and each organization is free to make up their own template.

Most processes for creating Artwork for a new product or new SKU start with the collation of copy-text and its approval. Since the copy-text content that goes on the pack or label is contributed by multiple departments, its always a time consuming exercise. The copy-text must also go through an approval cycle to ensure no rework later on. Its very important that the copy-text is captured correctly since all future proof-reading and verifications will be done based on this. If the input itself is wrong, the outcome is most definitely going to lead to rework or delayed product launches.


Today, technology can help in capturing and collating the copy-text information and even automatically compare the copy-text (in Word or Excel template) with the PDF artwork to highlight differences. Capturing the copy-text into a database has many benefits. Among them are

  1. Instantly copy and modify copy-text for a new SKU or variant
  2. Independently make translations of the copy-text into all required languages in which the product is sold
  3. Check the consistency of the text across products, e.g. is the ingredient list the same across all my pack sizes, is the name translated in the same way for a language across products, etc.
  4. Check ‘where-used’ scenarios when a change is required. E.g. check which artworks still have the old phone number of the company
  5. Use the copy-text database as a content source for downstream design tools which can consume the text directly into the design tool. E.g. through an Adobe Illustrator plugin connected to the copy-text database, the copy-text can be directly used inside the artwork without having to cut-and-paste. Once the designer has laid out the text in the right location and with the right formatting attributes, any change to the copy-text will automatically refresh the text in the artwork. So language and text changes are no longer ‘cut-and-paste’ but ‘dragged-and-dropped; from within the design tool.

In summary, taking the time to get the copy-text right early in the artwork cycle can save significant time and money. Technology goes a long way in helping achieve the collation and use of copy-text without the normal cut-and-paste methodology.

Image Credits: Claytowne.

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