The benefits of printing with bleed

Every now and then you get that one client that asks the question…
WHAT IS BLEED? Well, in this article I will do my best to explain to you what bleed is, why designers lay artwork out the way they do and how it benefits your design when you are ready to proceed to print.

Lets start with the sample below. You have received your artwork from your designer. You open the PDF and you see the artwork laid out as follows. As a designer we have guidelines to help us keep within the limits of the artwork. In this sample you will not be able to see where these guidelines are.

When a designer creates the artwork they work with a trim line, which includes a 3mm bleed all around the edge of the artwork. If you have any imagery or colours that run towards the edge of the paper, you need to add bleed to the artwork to ensure that there are no white lines around the edges in case the guillotine moves while cutting the sheets. If your card has no colours running to the edge you will not have any problem with the cutting process. With the extra 3mm colour or image on each side, you have eliminated that problem of not having the colours running all the way to the edge.

In the image below you will see the trim line (indicated by the yellow line). The colours running towards the edge of the page is what designers and printers refer to as ‘bleed’.

You will also notice a second line on the sample image (indicated by the white line). This line indicated the limitation of any important content that needs to be placed on the artwork. This size is mostly 3mm in size but can differ depending on the project you are working on. Some publications prefer a much wider edge to enure all the content is in a safe place.

You will also notice the lines around the corners of the artwork, they are better know as ‘crop marks’. These crop marks indicate to the printers where the trim line is, or otherwise know as the ‘cut line’. You can take a rule and hold it in place with the lines from top to bottom and side to side. Everything you see on the outsides of the lines is the bleed and will be cut off. You can now see why it is important to have bleed on any artwork that you would like to print. If your designer did not add bleed and crop marks, please ask them to make the necessary changes.

Please note that there are instances where bleed is not applicable. For example, if you are printing an advert in a magazine or a news paper, the publication house will send you specific sizes for an advert that needs to fit into a section of the page layout, you will not need to add bleed to this artwork. In general all business cards, printed letterheads, flyers, brochure, books, menus, tags and so many more require bleed to the artwork.

I hope that this article has given you a better understanding about bleed. Feel free to contact me for more information should it still be unclear.

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