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FAQ: What is "Bleed" ?

FAQ - What is Bleed

Bleed - "full bleed" vs "no bleed" - what is it?

Bleed refers to printing that extends to the edge of a sheet or page after printing, or "bleeds" off the edge of the page.

If you do not have a white border on all four sides, then your image has bleed. Bleed is an important factor in any print project. It influences the design, the file specifications, and even the cost. 

Bleed vs No Bleed Example

Bleed vs No Bleed Example

How do you print full bleed?

There are a few ways to print full-bleed files. The first is to simply "shrink to fit" your file, which will leave an approximate 1/8" white border on all four sides. This is the most cost-effective way to deal with a file that is designed to be full bleed, or if your print file doesn't include any bleed.

To achieve full bleed (no white border), you actually print the piece larger then it's final size and then you cut it down. For example, if you are printing a letter size poster (8.5"x11"), it will actually be printed on 11"x17" paper. Then the excess is cut off, leaving you will a full bleed 8.5"x11".

This process also means that full bleed print projects cost more then their no-bleed counter parts because they are actually larger prints, and then there is the additional cost of cutting. No-bleed print pieces are also more eco-friendly because there is no wasted paper from cutting like there is with full bleed items.

How can I save money and still achieve full bleed?

There is no doubt that full-bleed piece tend to look more professional and high-end then no-bleed pieces. Designing your project with full bleed gives you less design limitations. You can have backgrounds that go all to the edge. There are ways to get this look without your project costing a lot more money. Here are a few techniques that we recommend:

  • Check your finished size - Some sizes are cheaper to make full bleed then others; for example, 4"x6" and 5"x7" postcards cost about the same to print regardless of bleed. However, 4.25"x5.5" and 5.5"x8.5" postcards are cheaper without bleed. This is because of how they are imposed on the page when we go to print them. 
  • Go (Slightly) Smaller - If you are designing a tabloid (11"x17") poster, and you want it to be full bleed, we can shrink your full-bleed file to still fit onto an 11"x17" paper, then trim off the white border and bleed, leaving you with a poster that is slightly smaller then your intended 11"x17" size, but only slightly so (approximately 10.5"x16.5"). 
  • Design it right - Correctly design your project to incorporate 1/8" of bleed on all four sides, you will save time and money during prepress.
  • Bleed with purpose - On some projects, if you design your bleed evenly on the left and right or top and bottom, it can save you money. This is because it eliminates the gutter space needed when we impose your project, which means less cutting and sometimes it means being able to fit more pieces on a single sheet of paper. 
  • Reach out to us BEFORE you start designing - by working with CW Print + Design staff at the very start of your project (before you have even started designing) we will be able to give you guidance on the best techniques for you to use to save money on your full-bleed print project. If you are not sure of the most cost-effective size and bleed settings for your project, contact us and we will be happy to give you some guidance.

How do I setup a print-ready file with full bleed?

If a white border still does not suit the look you are needing, you will need to provide your print file with at least 1/8" bleed on all four sides. What this means is that your art will actually extend beyond your cut line, leaving your final page size 1/8" bigger on all sides (for a business card, your final pdf size would be 3.75" x 2.25". For a letter size print, your final pdf size would be 8.75"x11.25" and so on.) 


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