The Art of Bleed
One of the most crucial (and misunderstood) terms in the printing industry is Bleed. Bleed refers to the area outside of artwork where graphics and images are extended past the edge. Artwork should be larger than the intended finished size. The most common bleed size is .125” on each side, which will ensure that your art can be produced exactly as designed. For example, a correctly setup 8.5” x 11” document should measure 8.75” x 11.25”.
Most modern graphics software such as the Adobe Creative Suite allows for the setting of bleed and will display visual guides to facilitate the design process. There are notable exceptions, such as MS Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher, which are generally not ideal for commercial printing applications.
The goal of designing with bleed is to ensure that when a stack of printed pieces are cut out of the larger press sheet, no white lines appear on the edges. Adding bleed when not provided can be labor intensive, adding additional cost to your printing project.
When designing with bleed, care must be taken to crop images with extra room to ensure that nothing important is trimmed off. Keep any important elements such as a person’s face, or company logo at least .125” from the edge. Setting up your files correctly will ensure a more efficient work-flow and prevent any unforeseen delays in your project.