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What is Bleed in Print?

Have you ever spent ages working on an incredible print design to then have it leave the printer with an annoying white border around the edge? If so, then you probably forgot to add bleed.

Bleed in Printing

What is meant by bleed in print? In this article we aim to provide an answer! Don’t worry, everyone new to the world of print has made this mistake at one point or another so to help you avoid it in the future, we have created this handy guide.

We aim to explain all the ins and outs of bleed in printing. We’ll answer questions like: What is bleed? Why is bleed important? And how do I apply bleed to my print design? Let’s get started…

Table of Contents

What is bleed in print?

We can’t go into too much detail about bleed before we’ve answered the most obvious question: what is meant by bleed in print? Ultimately, bleed applies to the extra space around the frame of your print design or artwork that will be cut off during production. For now, printers are incapable of printing all the way to the edge of the material so instead, printed designs are best printed on larger sheets of paper to then be cut down to size.

This also means graphic designers, professional and amateur alike, need to award additional space which extends beyond the edge of a printed page. This overprint is called bleed or sometimes trim. Many print and design applications will display the crop marks to indicate where the cutting machine will make the cut so you can be sure you have a polished and professional final product.

Why is it important to add bleed in print?

No one wants to spend time and effort creating a smart-looking business card design or new Folded leaflet artwork for it to turn out looking unprofessional and cheap. This is exactly what can happen when you forget to add bleed to your design. Forgetting to add bleed will result in an unwanted white border around the edge of your artwork meaning the background colour or image of your design won’t reach the edges.

To avoid this, you will need to account for bleed when designing your product.

What is the standard bleed for printing?

Now you know what bleed in print is and why a bleed area is important, you’re probably wondering how thick the bleed area needs to be. A general rule of thumb for print bleed is to have 3mm of bleed on each edge and a 3mm safe zone inside. This means that the length of each side should be 6mm longer. Let’s take an A4 size as example.

A regular A4 size piece of paper is 210 x 297mm but with 6mm of bleed added, it’s size will be 216mm x 303mm. The additional 6mm will eventually be cut down to conform to the correct A4 size and allow for a clean finish with your artwork reaching right to the edge of the paper.

How do I apply bleed to my design?

Applying a bleed area to your printed design is super easy but it can vary depending on which programme or application you are using. Below, we have listed some easy-to-follow instructions on how to add bleed in Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Photoshop and Canva.

If you use another application or you are still unsure on how to apply bleed to a print design, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Print Stafford. We will gladly help you with all your graphic design and printing needs!

What is Bleed
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Here are some great ways to add bleed to your artwork.

How to add bleed in Adobe InDesign

  1. indesign icon Go to File and then Document Set up
  2. Select Bleed and Slug and enter your bleed margins in the top, bottom, left and right values
  3. You can preview your bleed area by checking the Preview box
  4. Click OK, and you’re done!

 How to add bleed in Adobe Illustrator

  1. illustrator iconGo to File and then Document Set up
  2. Select Bleed and enter your bleed margins in the top, bottom, left and right values
  3. A red box will appear around your document indicating the bleed area
  4. Click OK, and you’re done!

How to add bleed in Adobe Acrobat (and Acrobat Pro)

  1. Acrobat iconGo to Tools and then Print Production
  2. Select Add Printer Marks and tick the box for Bleed Marks
  3. Then specify the bleed margins using the drop down for Line Weight
  4. Select which pages of your document you want to apply bleed to
  5. Click OK, and you’re done!

How to add bleed in Adobe Photoshop

  1. photoshop iconGo to View and select Rulers
  2. Click on the rulers that have been placed in your document window and drag guidelines to all four edges
  3. Then go to Image and select Canvas Size
  4. Add your chosen bleed margins to the height and width of the document
  5. Click OK, and you’re done!

How to add bleed in Canva

  1. Canva iconClick on File and select Show Print Bleed.
  2. In Canva, the bleed margin is fixed and cannot be adjusted
  3. You will need to resize or stretch your background to meet the bleed area

We hope you found all this useful as to why you need bleed in print!