15 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

To Print You Need To Know About The Bleed

You may have heard the expression ‘Bleed’ whilst looking for a professional printing company. The bleed is an essential part of creating artwork ready for print. Professional designers make sure that the background elements on every design have been extended (or ‘bleed’) making sure the background elements and images go beyond the document size by around 4-6mm. This is needed to prevent unwanted white borders around the edges of your printed leaflets, flyers or business cards.

You may have printed something from your pc, all looks good on screen. You print your design and you see an ugly white unprinted border around the edges of the paper. Commercial printers have the same problem, they cannot print to the very edge of a sheet of paper. To get around the problem, we print your design onto a larger sheet of paper and then cut it down to size.

Another small issue is that most printers have a small sheet-to-sheet misregistration. So because of slight movements as the paper passes through a press, your design may not be printed in exactly the same area on every sheet of paper. Now this is usually a tiny varience, around a millimetre or less.

Also when the guillotine operator is trimming your design down to size, it would take someone with an incredible aim to cut exactly along the edge of your design. Any press misregistration would make this job impossible. So what does he do? If he cuts into the design there’s a danger that text or graphics close to the edge of the sheet will be lost. Cut too little off and you’ll end up with a white border on at least some of the prints.

To get around this problem, designers use bleed. This simply means that they extend beyond the edge of the document (by between 3mm and 6mm) any elements which should touch the edge of the paper. As a result, any inaccuracies which occur during the printing or finishing process shouldn’t cause any problems.

When printing watch the bleed

When printing watch the bleed

Designers are also careful to avoid placing important elements such as text within around 6mm of the edge of the paper. It not only looks unprofessional and cramped, there is a risk that it could be cut off! This area is sometimes referred to as the ‘quiet’ area of a design.

So that the guillotine operator knows where to cut the sheet, designers indicate the edge of the document using ‘crop marks’ (also known as tick marks or trim marks). These are short, thin black lines which are positioned slightly beyond the bleed area.

Check out our bleed guide for more information.

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