What is bleed? My printer asked for it.

Question

What is bleed? My printer asked for it when I gave them my brochure file.

Answer

When you send your brochure to the printer, they print it on much larger pieces of paper than the finished size of your brochure. They do this for a variety of reasons:

  • Printing several brochures at the same time
  • Having extra paper for the press to grab onto to pull it through the press without leaving marks on your brochure
  • And giving enough room for the color to go to the edge of the paper when trimmed, which is for bleed

When you put something on a press and the color runs to the edge of a piece, it must have bleed. Bleed is the part of the image that gets chopped off after printing. Bleed is usually 1/8 of an inch, but may be more depending upon the accuracy of the press.

Why do you need bleed?

You need it on a press for cutting as there is always a little shift on a press. If there were no bleed and they tried to cut it exactly where the color ended (called a butt cut), you’d have some pieces that showed white on the edges where the press was slightly off. Make sense?

LEFT: Uncut piece with bleed. RIGHT: piece trimmed out leaving bleed behind

Lena Shore

Lena is a full-time freelancer and nerd that specializes in web development, graphic design, and illustration. She enjoys building things, learning new things, pursuing creative endeavors, and giving free advice.

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