Custom Printing - Bleeds Explained

We love to work with you on your custom printing projects!  We have professional designers on staff who can help you take your project from concept to reality, but many of you have your own designers or staff members who handle the files for your publications and send the completed files to us.  Sometimes, the finished product may not look exactly as you envisioned it when you created the file and we get questions on how to make it better next time, or why doesn't it look like I thought it would?

Today's blog is the first in a series of blogs that I will be writing on the subject of custom printing.  I'll try to answer some of the more common questions that we field and give you some general tips to help your file designs work better for you.

One topic that we get frequent questions on is bleeds.  Take a look at the picture below:

Do you see how the green, yellow, black and red go all the way to the edge of the page?  That is a bleed.  It is very difficult to print exactly to the edge of a sheet of paper.  To achieve this look, it is necessary to print a slightly larger area than what is needed for the item and then trim the paper down to the required finished size.  Images, background images and fills which are intended to extend to the edge of the page must be extended beyond the trim line in the art file to give a bleed.  Bleeds are generally 1/8 (.125") of an inch from where the cut is to be made.

In the diagram below, the green line is the trim line.  This is the cut line or the finished piece size.  The white area is the trim zone, which is the margin or area between the trim line and the text safety area.  The trim zone should be avoided with any critical design elements - especially text.  For most print production methods, this needs to be at least 1/8 (.125") of an inch.  The blue rectangle is the text safety area - the body of the piece where most of the design resides.  Any text, logos or content placed in this area is entirely safe.  The pink area is the bleed.  If you want the image to extend all the way to the edge of the paper, your background and non-critical elements of design should extend to this line.

I hope that helps clear up the subject a bit.  If you still have questions, our designers are always happy to help you and explain any of the concepts.  Give us a call at 877-795-2600 and ask for the print department.