I'm brewing some beer for a wedding present. Going to bottle half the batch and serve the other half at a party. I have a full-color PDF with a label design, and would like the nicest-looking labels possible. I'm probably only going to do about a dozen bottles. What are my options?
I make my labels in business card format using Microsoft Publisher.
Print them on perforated business card stock, spray both sides with clear lacquer (to make them waterproof so they don't run in the cooler) punch a single hole in the corner and tie them to your bottles using string.
The main advantage to this method is that you don't have to scrape the labels off when you're done - just cut the strings.
For my wine I use a place called Landmark Label in Fremont. You have to order 500 labels minimum and they come on a roll (of 500), but you could do something that has a logo or whatnot and then an area where you could write in the details so you could use the same roll for years to come.
You just contact them and send over the PDF, pick out your paper and rock and roll.
Well, it's not -easy- but I've seen a method unrelated to beer used on a bottle. Looked quite nice, actually. As a simple art project, friend of mine used photo paper in a plain inkjet printer to make a "label". Which was then scissor cut by hand and adhered using clear packing tape, also scissor cut to make a clean back edge.
Don't know if this is the sort of thing you're looking for, but the clear tape layer did a good job protecting the photo paper and would do well to protect a bottle label - so long as it wasn't doused in a cooler full of ice water.
A bonus would be that cleaning off the bottle for re-use would be as easy as pulling off some clear packing tape. Or using "goo-gone" if it's stubborn. ;)
I got some label paper from midwest supplies, they have a word document that you can download and put your PDF into each slot, I think it's nine per sheet, and then print them out on the label paper, they're self adhesive and look really nice. I would order them again if needed. I never put them in a cooler though, I don't know how well they stay on in an ice bath.
I use Microsoft Visio at work, which can add graphics, jpegs, photos etc and also you can add text in various fonts colours etc, then sneakliy print on a colour laserjet printer at work ;-) the laser colour ink is fast and doesn't run. I then use a glue stick to put them on the bottles, however thinking of trying milk as the glue-stick glue is quite sticky and takes a bit of effort to remove.
I use a similar method to PunkyBrewster to adhere my printed labels however I find that adding milk isn't enough. I use a mix of 1:1 water and milk with a teaspoon of gelatine. This method means the labels won't come off when condensation builds up!
Also if you can get your hands on a Laser printer (I use one at work) you don't have to worry about the ink running when adhering labels. So to answer your main question I just use powerpoint to design and make 4 labels per A4 piece of paper, I keep to a simple rectangular design.
For a simple label design idea take a look at some of the craft beers on my brewing website The Small Brewing Company.