Tshirt Design Placement 101: Your Quick Guide

Alex Galindo

7 mins read

print on demand tshirt placement, how to design a tshirt for POD

Whether you’re new to the world of the t-shirt business or you’re a seasoned pro, nailing the perfect placement for your design is key to creating a great-looking tee. But while almost anyone can be a whiz at tshirt design, not everyone knows the best way to place their design on an actual shirt.

This is why we’ve put together this quick guide to help you get started. In this article, we’ll be discussing t-shirt design placement and how you can use it to create a great-looking product. We’ll also be giving you some tips on what to avoid, so you can steer clear of common pitfalls.

Let’s get started!

The Importance of a Well-Placed Design

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of things, why exactly is design placement so important?

Well here are a few key reasons:

It Accentuates Your Assets

The right design placement guides your viewer’s eye toward your shirt’s best features. Whether it’s your brand logo, a striking illustration, or even just a simple pattern, you want your design to be placed in a way that makes it stand out. No matter how awesome your existing design is, poor placement can easily make it blend in and go unnoticed.

It Makes a Statement

This is especially the case with political and social commentary t-shirts. A well-placed design can send a powerful message that is sure to get people talking. For instance, imagine placing a bold or empowering line at the chest or center of your shirt. This will ensure that people read it loud and clear, instead of just glancing at it and moving on. Talk about making a statement!

It Creates Balance

T-shirt designs, especially complex ones, can often look unbalanced. This is because the human eye is naturally drawn to certain areas of a design more than others. By carefully placing your design elements, you can create a sense of balance that makes your shirt look more visually appealing.

It’s Aesthetically Pleasing

In this day and age, people are bombarded with visual stimuli from all sides. This means that they’re naturally drawn to aesthetically pleasing designs and will often gloss over anything that looks cluttered or messy. Having carefully placed design elements will help your shirt stand out from the rest and make a lasting impression.

POD T-Shirt Design Dictionary

Now, on to the good stuff! Here are some terms that you should familiarize yourself with before we get into the actual design placement types.

Anchor Point

An anchor point is the starting point from which you’ll be placing your design. It’s usually located at the center of your shirt, but it can also be placed off to the side. Having an anchor point allows you to more easily place your design elements in a way that looks balanced and pleasing to the eye and make the necessary adjustments without ruining the whole design.

Center Line

center line for tshirt design placement, how to design shirts for print on demand

The center line is an imaginary line that runs down the middle of your shirt, from top to bottom. It’s used as a reference point when placing designs, so they can be evenly balanced on both sides.


When printing your design on a t-shirt, the quality of your print will largely depend on your design’s DPI or dots per inch. The higher the DPI, the higher the quality of your print will be.

Print Size

Your print size is the actual dimensions of your design. When planning your design, be sure to keep your print size in mind so that your design elements are properly proportioned. The standard printing size set by your apparel printer will usually be 12″ x 14″ to 12″ x 16″, but of course, it will ultimately depend on the size of your shirt. If you wish to emphasize a certain element in your design, you can always increase the print size or go oversize.

Print File Formats

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When sending your design to an apparel printer, you’ll need to save your file in one of the following formats: .PNG, .JPEG .AI, .EPS, .PSD, or .PDF. These are the only file formats that can be properly read by printing machines.

Saving your design in one of these formats will ensure that your design prints correctly and that there are no printing errors. Make sure to check which file format you need with your printer. If you use Awkward Styles print on demand, you can upload PNG and JPEG files.

Common Shirt Design Placements

Now, without further ado, let’s get into the types of shirt design placements!

Oversize Front Tshirt Design

An oversize front print is a type of design placement where the design is printed larger than the standard printing size. This is usually done to emphasize a certain element in the design or to make a bold statement.

Oversize prints are often used for designs that include intricate details or large graphics. When done correctly, an oversize print can really make your design stand out from the rest. However, it’s important to note that oversize prints can often be more expensive than standard-sized prints. This is because they require more ink and take longer to print.

The common dimensions for an oversize print are 14″ x 18″ but, of course, this can change depending on the size of your shirt. You’ll also have to mind the collar and sleeve areas when placing your design, as you don’t want your oversize print to be cut off at the edges.

Tip: When creating an oversize print, be sure to keep your design simple. Too much clutter will only make your design look busy and overwhelming.

Full Front Tshirt Design

Full Front Tshirt Design example, print on demand print area options

Similar to an oversized front, a full front print is a design that covers the entire front of your shirt. However, unlike an oversize print, a full front print is usually the same size as the standard printing size (12″ x 16″) or a bit smaller (10″ x 14″).

Full-front prints are often used for designs that are complex or have a lot of detail. This is because a larger print area gives you more room to work with and allows your design to really shine.

Tip: This shirt design placement is perfect for statement designs or for those who want their design to be the focal point of their shirt.

Full Back Tshirt Design

A full-back print is a design that covers the entire back of your shirt. Like a full front print, a full back print is usually the same size as the standard printing size (12″ x 16″) or a few inches smaller (10″ x 14″).

Full back prints are often used for additional information or supplementary graphics that complement the design on the front of the shirt. They are also a great way to make a bold statement or to really show off your design skills.

Tip: When creating a full back print, be sure to leave some negative space around the edges of your design. This will help your design stand out and will prevent it from looking too busy.

Center Chest Tshirt Design

The most common shirt design placement is the center chest. As the name suggests, this type of design placement is centered on the chest area of your shirt.

Center chest designs are usually placed around 2″ to 4″ under the collar of your shirt and are about 6″ to 8″ big in width and height. This placement is perfect for logos and statements you want to accentuate without going overboard.

Left Chest Tshirt Design

This shirt design placement is placed on the left side of your shirt, just over the heart. The left chest placement is often used for small logos or designs that are meant to be subtle and not too over-the-top.

This type of placement is perfect for those who want their design to be visible without being too in-your-face.

The average dimensions for a left chest design are 3″ to 4″ in width and 2.5″ to 3″ in height.

Upper Back Tshirt Design

This is a design that’s placed on the upper back area of your shirt, just below the neckline. This type of placement is perfect for designs that are meant to be seen but not too overbearing.

The average dimensions for an upper back design are 4″ to 6″ in height and 10″ to 12″ in width.

Lower Back Tshirt Design

lower back print example

This is a design placement that’s placed on the lower back area of your shirt, just above the waistline. Lower-back designs are often used for website addresses, company slogans, or other supplemental information.

Similar to the upper back design, the average dimensions for a lower back design are 4″ to 6″ in height and 10″ to 12″ in width.

Collar Tshirt Design

Collar designs are just like upper-back designs but smaller. This placement is perfect for round or circular logos that are placed at the back to show the brand people can associate with the shirt’s front design.

The average dimensions for a collar design are 2″ to 3″ in width and height.

Sleeves Tshirt Design

Finally, sleeve designs are placed on, you guessed it, the sleeves of your shirt. Sleeve designs are often used for company logos or other information that people need to see.

The average dimensions for a sleeve design are 3″ to 4″ in width and 2.5″ to 3″ in height.

Tip: Sleeve designs are not typically placed on the very edge of the sleeve. Instead, they are usually placed about 1″ to 2″ away from the edge to give them a more polished look.

Tips on Getting Your Design Placement Right

Found the right placement locations for your next awesome shirt design? Great!

But before we let you go and make your magic, here are a few quick tips to help you get your design placement just right:

Choose the Right Print File Format

Your print provider will likely have specific print file format requirements. Local screen printers typically require vector file types such as .EPS, .AI, or .PDF files. When using a print on demand company like Awkward Styles, you can check on the mockup generator for the file types and sizes accepted.

DPI Matters

what does DPI mean, what is DPI, how to check DPI

Be sure to design your shirt at 300 DPI or higher. This will ensure that your design remains sharp and clear when it’s printed on your shirt. Having a low DPI design will result in a fuzzy and pixelated print.

Check the Printing Dimensions of Your Shirt

The sample dimensions mentioned earlier can give you a good idea of where to place your design. But before you finalize anything, be sure to check the printing dimensions of your shirt. This is especially the case for much bigger or smaller shirt sizes. If you’re unsure, simply ask your print provider for help.

Create Multiple Mockups

If you’re unsure if your design and its placement are on point, create multiple mockups. This way, you can test out and compare different design ideas or placement locations before settling on the final product.

The Bottom Line on T-Shirt Design Placement

Design placement is important because it can make or break the look of your shirt. It’s all about accentuating your design and ensuring that it’s placed in a location that makes sense.

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of design placement and how to make it work for your next shirt project. Now go forth and make some amazing shirts!

And in case you’re still searching for a print-on-demand partner who can handle your t-shirt printing needs, check out Awkward Styles! We print and fulfill not just shirt orders but also hoodies, mugs, totes, and more! We’ve got you covered whatever your merch needs may be! Reach out to us today and let’s get started on your t-shirt design project!

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This blog contains some affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you use these links to buy something (at no added cost to you).

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