Let’s say you’re designing a poster and you want the imagery to go to all the way to the edge of the paper. You don’t want a border or any blank space between your poster image and the edge. Sounds easy right? The problem is, machines don’t print to the edge of paper. So to get this look you’ll need to use what we call “bleed.” This is the technical term for printing that goes all the way to the edge of the paper (and in actuality, beyond it). Printed pieces that have a white border or white around the edges don’t bleed. So, if you want your art to go all the way to the edge of the paper, then you (or we) must design your job larger than the final cut size. We create bleeds by cutting through the imagery that goes past the edge of the document. Yes, we trim off excess image to get the look you desire! For some people it may seem odd that a portion of their artwork will be eliminated to get the final product. However, using bleeds is one of the trademarks of professional looking printed design. Creating this look is easy once you get the hang of designing within bleed specs. And, cutting the final product is also fairly easy if the art is set up with a proper bleed area.
“Bleed information” refers to elements of the imagery outside the finished piece. Since machines are not perfect, there needs to be a margin of error to allow for differences in each printed piece. If you’re doing your own design work and sending it to us to print, you need our bleed information. Look closely at professionally prepared artwork and you may notice little black lines (crop marks) showing where the image will be cut as well as the excess that will be trimmed off. A sample is shown above. For best results we recommend a bleed area (your extended art) of at least 1/8″ (0.125 inches) and that all text and graphics stay 1/8″ inside the final paper trim edge. Following this simple rule ensures a more professional appearance and eliminates the risk of text or graphics being accidentally “nicked” during trimming.
Do you have questions about bleeds or any of our other printing processes? Feel free to ask them below!