What Does the Term “Bleed” Mean?

When any image or element on a page goes all the way to the edge of the page, we call this a bleed. In other words, you do not want to have a white border showing. To create this effect properly, we need to print the project on a bigger sheet (bigger than the final size of the project) and the art will need to extend beyond the final size edge at least ⅛” to ¼” space, which is what we call the trim edge. Once printed, we then cut off the extra margin, leaving a nice clean edge, and no paper showing (see below).

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If a bleed is not generated on your art, the printer devices automatically print a white edge, preventing extra toner from dropping inside the printer, which would create a huge toner mess. Also, there is some (depending on the device) movement of the paper, wiggling through the machine each time. Therefore, the image printed on the paper is not an exact registration from sheet to sheet. So, it is tradition for printers to request bleeds from your art files, so we can create a beautiful finished project for you.

Rules to provide the proper PDF file:
  1. Your art file needs to include “cut marks” or “trim lines” outside of the art indicating where we are to cut. The art must extend ⅛” to ¼”, on all sides, past the desired finish/final size.
  2. Design wording 1/8" or more inside and away from the cut line or trim marks (indicated in the drawing below by the dashed yellow lines).
Elements that bleed off the page can sometimes add to the cost of printing if the printer must use a larger size of paper to accommodate the bleed allowance. To reduce costs, if possible, redesign to eliminate the bleed or reduce the page size enough to fit the work on a smaller sheet of paper.

To properly set up a bleed, you will extend the art like in this image below. We are looking at the art background and design elements extending past the finish size which is indicated in the pink lines, where we will cut the cards.


Need to create a bleed in MS Word or Publisher?

You can create a bleed with text, pictures, or any other type of object. Click this link for information.

Need to create a bleed in InDesign?

When you prepare a document for printing, a number of marks are needed to help the printer determine where to trim the paper, align separation films when producing proofs, measure film for correct calibration, dot density, and so on… Click this link for information.



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