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What is Bleed in print industry

What is Bleed in Print, and How to Create a Bleed?

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

What is meant by a 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 or trim. We’ll answer questions like: What is bleed? Why is it important? And how do I apply it to my design? Let’s get started…

Table of Contents

What is Full Bleed or Trim in Printer Speak?

We can’t go into too much detail about bleeding before we’ve answered the most obvious question. What is meant by bleed in print?

Ultimately, this applies to the extra space around the outside of your design or artwork that will be cut off during print production. For now, printers are incapable of printing all the way to the edge of the material(plus it would be messy) so instead, published designs are best printed on slightly larger sheets of paper and then trimmed down to size as part of the printing process.

What is Bleed
Play Video about What is Bleed

This means graphic designers, professional and amateur alike, need to give an additional area around their design which extends beyond the edge of their finished page size. This overprint is called bleed or sometimes trim. It does not give you more space to move your text closer to the edge of the paper, it is about making sure the design is perfect when you get them. 

If we take an A4 sheet as an example to try and explain this in a little more detail before we move on as this is really the most important information

The finished page size measures 210mm x 297mm – this is the size you would receive.

We know that 3mm bleed is required on the printed area so this would mean we start with a document that now measures 216mm by 303mm.

You can see this in the image below where the white background is the document and the red line is the trim line. If your design has any form of colour whether it be a photo or coloured block etc. you have to make sure it extends to the edge of the page, don’t let it stop short. You can see this in the second image where the photo extends beyond the trim.

No Bleed
Design with No Bleed or trim
With Bleed
Design with Bleed or trim

So now you know what is meant by bleed in print.

Many print and design applications will display the bleed and 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. You don’t need to worry will go through some tips later to make sure you get your page setup right.

Why do I Need to add Bleed in Printing?

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

To avoid this, you will need to account for bleed when designing your product to get the best result and ensure you get what you envisioned.

What is the Standard Bleed in Printing? What is a Good Bleed for Print?

Now you know what it is and why it is important, you’re probably wondering how thick the bleed area needs to be. A general rule of thumb is to have a 3mm bleed on each edge and a 5mm safe zone inside. This means that the length of each side should be 6mm longer.

These are the standard bleed settings for most marketing materials although with large format printing such as banners, this can be extended to 0.25 inches. Extra space is often needed to allow for the eyelets on these although this is usually depicted in the “safe zone“ guidance.

Print Bleed in MM

Our table below is based upon printing a standard A sized document with a portrait orientation. Feel free to use these measurements to set up your document in your preferred design software program based on what sized product you want. 

SizeFinished Size in MillimetersSize with Bleed in mm
A0841 mm  ×  1189 mm847 mm  ×  1195 mm
A1594 mm  ×  841 mm600 mm  × 847 mm
A2420 mm  ×  594 mm423 mm  × 600 mm
A3297 mm  ×  420 mm303 mm  × 426 mm
A4210 mm  ×  297 mm216 mm  ×  303 mm
A5148  mm ×  210 mm154 mm ×  216 mm
A6105 mm  ×  148 mm111 mm  ×  154 mm
A774  mm ×  105 mm80  mm × 111 mm
A852 mm  ×  74 mm58 mm  × 80 mm
A937 mm  ×  52 mm43 mm  × 58 mm
A1026  mm ×  37 mm30  mm × 43 mm

If you want to learn more about sizes read more on our Guide to Paper sizes and dimensions or formats for printing!

How do I Apply Print Bleed to My Design?

Applying a trim area to your printed design is super easy but it can vary depending on which program or application you are using. All design software have the ability to add bleed and it is usually done as part of the document setup process before you start designing.

Below, we have listed some easy-to-follow instructions on how to do this in programs like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, Photoshop and Canva.

Here are some great ways to create bleed in your artwork.

indesign logo - Print Stafford

How to Add Bleed in InDesign

  1. 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 setting up your page with bleed!
  5. When you have finished your design and go to export as a PDF be sure to select the checkbox that includes bleed!

illustrator Logo - Print Stafford

How to Add Bleed in Illustrator

  1. Go to File and then Document Set up
  2. Select Bleed and enter your bleed 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!

Acrobat Logo - Print Stafford

How to Add Bleed in Acrobat (and Acrobat Pro)

  1. Go to Tools and then Print Production
  2. Select Add Printer Marks and tick the box for Bleed Marks
  3. Then specify the bleed 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!

photoshop Logo - Print Stafford

How to Add Bleed in Photoshop

  1. Go 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 to the height and width of the document
  5. Click OK, and you’re done!

Canva Logo - Print Stafford

How to Add Bleed in Canva

  1. Click 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 and extend the background to meet the edge of the page
  4. So now you know how to add bleed in Canva!

We hope you found all this useful as to why you need to bleed in print as well as helping you adjust your artwork so you don’t send it without bleed.

Remember we have a template library where you can download the templates for your print product. These have all been set up with the correct bleed in mind!

Ensure a Professional Finish with Proper Bleed!

If your struggling with these feel free to reach out to the team at Print Stafford, we would love to help!
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