When printing a sleeve, do the words read down or up the sleeve?

Because this is such an opinion-based topic, I believe the final decision stands with the customer and designer. However, the artwork should be laid out to best display the image or message while maintaining the integrity of the design.

Throughout the industry, as a quick search will show, there are numerous samples of wording printed up and down both left and right sleeves. Is there a correct way to position these? I don’t believe so, but if the customer has asked for our opinion, standard practice is to suggest printing the sleeves in a readable format.

To the decorator, here’s how this translates. Imagine that the individual wearing the shirt with the printed sleeves is facing you, and holds up their arms, giving them the shape of a “T.” If the customer wants the sleeves in a readable format, the words will begin on the left and end on the right. This approach most often will translate into wording printed up the right sleeve and down the left sleeve. This is our go-to suggestion. However, this positioning will fall prey to a few other factors which will help determine the most feasible overall options.

Remember, the purpose of many of the items we make is to relay a message to viewers. My best advice is to position everything in a manner that allows for that message to be most easily received.

Here’s to clear communication!

—Kaptain Kirk Clothing Co.

Kirk Harris

Kirk Harris

Kirk Harris currently serves as president of Atlanta-based Kaptain Kirk Clothing Co. Harris' love of apparel began with retail in the late '90s and in 2006 he founded his first clothing line. In 2012 his journey led him to apparel decoration and in 2014 he settled into his current position. He's reachable at, 404-396-7171, or

View all articles by Kirk Harris   Visit Website

Related Articles

Back to top button