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Bleeds & Borders

Borders on Artwork

Considering bleeds and borders, first start designing with a minimum safety margin of .125″. If you add a border to your artwork, however, it is essential that your safety margin instead be .25″ to maintain border consistency on all sides. Border thickness is important because if it is too thin, the border may look uneven after cutting, but the thicker the border the better the results. Cutting tolerance is .0625″. For smaller pieces, the shift in cutting tolerance will be more likely and more noticeable.

What is a Bleed?

A bleed is printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. It is part of the background that will be trimmed off after the file is printed and cut down to the finished size. As such, the bleed is an area where the document image is extended from one side of the paper to another without critical information in it. If a bleed is not included in document setup, there is a good chance that there will be a gap between the edge of the printed area and the cut line. This happens because there is a tolerance when cutting the printed piece. Please take a look at our cutting tolerance help page for more information on how cutting tolerance may affect print work.

Important Page Setup Information

Bleed Information

Bleeds and Crop Marks

Crop marks need to be included on all four corners of the document. The bleed on this 8.5 x 11″ document is .125″. The edge of the document is shown with the pink outline (please do not include this in actual file). There is a safety margin shown in blue. This is .125″ from the edge of the document. It is important that there is no information outside the safety margin.

Bleed Information

Correct Document Setup

This is an example of a document that is set up correctly, and none of the important information will be trimmed off. The image goes to the edge of the bleed and all the text is positioned in the safety margin.

Bleed Information

Incorrect Document Setup

This example is not set up correctly. The image does not go to the edge of the bleed and therefore there might be a blank line on the edge of the printed piece. Text is going into the bleed area which will cause it to be trimmed off and unreadable. It is crucial that important information stays inside of the safety margin.

Bleed Information

Incorrect Document Setup

The image is set up correctly in this example because it is going to the edge of the bleed. However, the text is outside of the safety margin. Some of it will most likely be trimmed off.

Bleed Size

It’s pretty easy to set up bleeds in the major design programs. Bleeds of 1/8” are required on anything small like business cards, flyers, brochures, sell sheets, newsletters, or booklets. For larger items such as signs, posters, and tradeshow graphics, bleeds of 1/4″ are needed.

Bleed Setup in Illustrator

Setting Up Bleed in Adobe Illustrator

Bleed Setup in InDesign

Setting Up Bleed in Adobe InDesign

To get to the Bleed option you may have to click “More Options”.

Optional: InDesign defaults to picas. If you type in “.125in” (the “in” for inches is very important), it will calculate that measurement in picas. If you would prefer to work in inches, another solution is to go to Preferences > General > Units & Increments. In the Ruler Units block, the Horizontal and Vertical should have the Inches option selected.

Bleed Setup in Photoshop

Setting up the correct document size takes a little bit of math. Unlike InDesign, there is not a default bleed setting. For example, let’s say you would like to create an 8.5 x 11″ document. There will need to be a bleed of 1/8″ on all four sides of the document. Therefore, the document size will need to be 8.75 X 11.25″ in size.

Setting Up Bleed in Adobe Photoshop

It is helpful to have guides for showing the actual product dimensions: go to View > New Guide.

Setting Up Guides in Adobe Photoshop

Setting Up Guides in Adobe Photoshop

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