Do you know what it means when a printer asks you if your project bleeds?
When quoting a job, one of the factors we take into consideration is whether or not the project has a Bleed. For anyone not involved in printing or designing print pieces, it may sound a bit gruesome, but really it’s nothing to get faint about. Simply put, bleed is the printing term for any color or image that goes right to the edge of the paper.
Standard printing equipment is not able to print exactly to the edge of a sheet of paper/card, so to achieve this look it is necessary to print a slightly larger area than is needed and then trim the paper/card down to the required finished size. That area is referred to as the bleed.
Images, background images and fills which are intended to go to the edge of the page must be extended at least 1/8″ (.125″) beyond the trim line in the digital file. So, the print ready file size will be equal to the final trim size plus .25” to accommodate the bleed. For instance, a PDF for a 4” x 6” postcard with bleed should be set up to measure 4.25” x 6.25” to be print ready.
This bleed area is important because it gives us a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper during the printing and/or cutting process and ensures that no slight white edges occur on the final trimmed document.
You will also want to incorporate a ¼” safe area inside the trim line for any text and images you want fully displayed. Items placed closer than .25” are in danger of being trimmed off or showing inconsistent margins.
In the example below, the bleed area (shown in dark green) extends .125″ beyond the trim edge of the page (represented by the pink line).