Quick Guide: What is Bleed?
In printing terms, bleed is the concept of extending artwork beyond the final trim lines of a job. Why would you do this? While machines are precise, there can be hairline variations between prepress, printing, and cutting. A hairline isn’t much, but even the tiniest white stripe on the edge of a job can stand out like a sore thumb! Therefore, by printing beyond the trim line, even if everything is a hairline off you’ll still see color all the way to the edge of the final product.
If you have a job that has nothing touching the edges of the final trim size, you won’t need to account for bleed. It only applies when an element—whether it be the background, an image, or a different graphic element—will go to the edge of the job.
A standard bleed is 0.125” or 1/8” on ALL sides of the job. That means if you are printing an 8.5 x 11 sheet with bleeds, you will actually have a file that is 8.75 x 11.25. (Your file size might not show this depending on the program and settings you use to create bleeds in your file. If you need additional help with the mechanics of setting up bleeds, contact your salesperson so that we can help you find answers.) Also, consider that having bleed can make you purchase a larger sheet size; 23 x 35 vs 25 x 38. If you are printing a large quantity this can affect your cost in paper. To offset this cost, we may consider under sizing your job. Discuss with your salesperson to review all options.
The function of a bleed is just as important for a small business card as it is for a 150-page book or a large format poster print. If something runs off the page, include a bleed.