Screen Printing Templates and Print Area Guide

Screen Printing Templates & Print Area Guide

There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to screen printing tees and clothing. Not least, you need to get the screen print size and position right. That’s if you want your t-shirt design to shine. Which is where our screen printing templates and print area guide comes in handy. Below we’ll take a closer look at of the some steps in the printing process that ensure you get the best custom printed t-shirts.

What’s the Biggest Print Area with Screen Printing?

Main Print Area.

One of most common questions we get asked is what’s the maximum print area for a screen printed t-shirt. Well, clearly there are different places on any garment where print can be applied. For now, we’ll focus on the main body of the tee. Here at Fifth Column our standard screen size is 28cm x 40cm. Which more or less fills the whole front of a t-shirt. That said, we also have a larger, we call it jumbo, screen size that’s 40cm x 60cm. Further down, we’ll also consider other printable areas.

Sleeve Print Area.

Screen printing templates are obviously different for printing sleeves. Our largest board allows for a print that is 10cm wide x 40cm high. But other than that, there is no hard and fast rule with regard to sleeve print area. The reason for this is because what’s printed depends on the garment you are using and how it fits onto the board. As a consequence, it’s often a decision that needs to be made when precise details of garment and size breakdown are known.

What’s the Best Size Print for a Shirt?

In plain terms, the optimum sized print is that which works best for your particular design. As with many things in life, going large may not always be the ideal answer when deciding how much of the shirt surface is taken up with your artwork. By which we mean that choosing the biggest possible screen printing template only works in certain instances. And less is often more with high quality garment customisation. Below, we’ll look at specific examples.

Chest print area - Screen Printing Templates and Print Area Guide at Fifth Column.

Chest print area

Standard screen printing templates.

Standard screen printing templates

Printable area on sleeves.

Printable area on sleeves

Templates for Print Size & Location.

Let’s start with the most often printed locations. Yes, we mean the front or back of the shirt.

Chest and back.

  • Popular size – 27cm x 35cm.
  • Max size – 40cm x 60cm.

Choosing the smaller option here offers the most versatility insofar as it will generally work for both men’s and women’s styles. Plus, visibility of your design is optimised because there’s less chance of it disappearing round the sides of the garment.


  • Popular size – 6cm to 9cm.

Not going too big with something like a breast print or logo is important. Doing otherwise can overpower the aesthetic. Put simply, it just doesn’t look right.


  • Popular size – 7cm x 15cm.
  • Max size – 10cm x 40cm.

As mentioned earlier, there is a degree of interpretation with this location due to the practicalities of the process.

Inside neck/printed neck label.

  • Popular size – 7cm x 7cm.
  • Max size – 9cm x 10cm.

In many ways, this location is fairly straightforward when it comes to print size. That’s to say, this type of inside neck print is normally used for branding and there are limits on what will be seen. In effect, the collar provides a window of visibility.

Garment type and print area.

Garment type and print area

Neck screen printing templates

Screen printing templates and t-shirt sizes.

Screen printing templates and t-shirt sizes

How is Print Positioned when Screen Printing T-Shirts?

As a rule, it starts with the neckline when it comes to positioning your design. That’s to say, the top of your artwork tends to be positioned a set distance below the neck band of the tee. Although the size, shape and style of the shirt is also something which has to be considered. Below, we’ve got a rough guide for distances from the neck with a variety of print types. Approximate inch equivalent measurements are in brackets.

  • Standard Chest Print – 5cm (2 inches).
  • Full Front Print – 2.5cm (I inch).
  • Breast (logo) – 7.5cm (3 inches).
  • Neck Print: 2.5cm (1 inch).
  • Back Print: 7.5cm (3 inches).

It’s worth bearing in mind that there can be variation with this aspect of commercial print runs. Print position tolerances are a standard part of screen printing. To explain, anything up to 2cm leeway is considered acceptable because of the nature of working with textiles.

Garment Size & Printable Area.

There is one factor that’s always subject to change with screen printing templates and print area. Specifically, the actual size of the t-shirt. Clearly, XS will have less surface area than 2XL. So, the printable areas can scale upwards with the garment size. But it also has to be remembered that different blank clothing brands have different fittings. And sometimes even sizing within the same brand will differ by shirt style.

In light of which, giving a precise size and printable area correlation is somewhat difficult and could be misleading. It’s another instance of where you need to know the make and model of the garment before being able to say for definite. And also be aware that your smallest garment will determine print dimensions for all.

Hem Print Options.

We ought to mention printing at the hem before concluding our screen printing templates and print area guide. There are two ways of approaching this type of decoration. First, the least costly option is to include the main design and hem artwork on the same screen. However, there is a limitation with this method. Namely that the lowest possible location of the hem printing will be dictated by the size of the screen. And therefore could be well above the hem with larger garments. The alternative is to use a separate screen which allows for more precise positioning. However, another screen of course means increased cost.

Hopefully, the above has shed some light on the subject of templates and printable area. It is only for guidance because many things depend on variable factors. But don’t be daunted, your custom clothing company will always be able to provide any necessary information about the technicalities involved in the process.

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