Why It’s Crucial To “Bleed” When Printing

“Full bleed” might not sound like something you’d necessarily want. But bleed printing is absolutely crucial for avoiding accidental unprinted edges in your document.

Have you ever baked cookies? When you use a cookie cutter, you typically roll out a lot of dough first, way more than you’d actually need for any single cookie. You wouldn’t risk using too little dough, or else you might end with pieces missing.

Bleed is when graphics, images, or any other printing extends beyond where you intend to cut the document down to size.Printing is based on similar principles. Most printers cannot print all the way to the edge of a given sheet of paper. If you try, you’ll just end up with a bit of white space around the edge of your image. The best solution is to print on larger paper, and then trim it down to the desired size. But it’s very difficult to cut exactly along the edge of any given design.

This is where “bleed” comes in handy. By definition, bleed is when graphics, images, or any other printing extends beyond where you intend to cut the document down to size. It prevents white space and also helps account for any paper movement which may occur during printing.

Full Bleed vs. Partial Bleed

There are two main types of bleed printing: full bleed, where the design extends into the bleed space on every side of the document, and partial bleed, where only certain elements do so. This diagram shows how your bleed might look in relation to your final document size.Full Bleed vs. Partial Bleed Printing
It’s a good idea to give your piece at least a 1/8” wide bleed (the U.S. standard). Any artwork at the edge of your document should extend to cover the entire bleed area. Important text or objects should stay inside your document’s “safe zone,” preferably at least 1/4″ away from the final trimmed edge.

Make your document bleed before printing, and you’re sure to avoid that pesky “thin white line.”





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