What is Print Bleed?

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The print bleed area is the portion of your design that gets trimmed off after your piece is printed. To ensure all edges of your print are clean and free of any unwanted white space, you’ll need to extend your design into the bleed area.

Unbranded Key Ring with Print Bleed

Why Is There a Bleed Area?

The print industry has a bleed area to account for potential misalignments in the trimming and cutting process. A good example would be magnets or even the inserts in promotional keyrings. When paper products are trimmed, there is a possibility of misalignments. The margins we are talking about are only millimetres in size, which does not sound much, but it can end up being very much visible on the final product!

What Are Standard Print Bleed Dimensions?

For most prints, the standard bleed area is 3mm on each edge. This means that your design should extend 3mm beyond the trim size of your piece on each side. So, if you’re designing a business card that will be trimmed down to 90x55mm, your design should be no smaller than 96x61mm (on both sides)

How do I set up bleed in my design?

  • In Adobe Photoshop, you can extend your canvas size to accommodate for bleed. Simply go to Image > Canvas Size, and increase the width and height by 3mm each.
  • For Adobe Illustrator, create a box that is the finished size of your piece, plus bleed. So, if you want a final trim size of 90x55mm, your box should be 96x61mm.
  • Once your box is the correct size, go to File > Document Setup > Edit Artboards. From there, you can select the bleed box and change its dimensions to the finished size plus bleed.
  • In InDesign, create a new document that is the size of your finished piece, plus bleed. So, if you want a final trim size of 90x55mm, your document should be 96x61mm.

Adjusting Your Artwork For The Right Bleed Size When Working With a Printer

Adjusting artwork for the right bleed size is a necessary step when sending your designs to print. To make sure that the printer will be able to produce a quality product, it's important to include an extra 0.125w in the design. This is called the bleed size and it will ensure that any art elements that extend beyond the edges of the page won't get cut off during production.

If you're unsure about how much you should add for the bleed size, most printers offer helpful guidelines so you can calculate it easily. It may seem like a small detail, but making sure your artwork has a bleed size is essential if you want professional looking prints!

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Designing With Print Bleeds

  • Not including enough bleed size in your design: If the element in your artwork extends beyond the page edges, make sure you've added an extra 0.125w for a quality finished product.
  • Making your text too small: While reducing the font size may be necessary to fit your design into the print size, it's important to ensure that your text is still legible when printed.
  • Not checking the color mode of your artwork: Make sure that you are using appropriate color mode (RGB or CMYK) so that any colors will look true to their intended shade when printed.
  • Not considering trim marks and margins: When designing with bleeds, you must also consider where trim marks and margins should be placed so they don't interfere with any artwork elements.

Author Profile: Blake

Blake is a new transplant to the promotional products industry, but after several years in real estate he knows what it's like to be a customer looking to buy promotional products! Blake is an expert on client experience and product recommendations, particularly of the sporting variety. Visit him on LinkedIn.

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