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  • Emma Venables

The beginners guide to understanding bleed

Updated: May 17, 2021

Has your printer ever asked you to put ‘bleed’ onto your artwork? If you find yourself asking what the heck even IS bleed, then read on, as adding this will help to ensure your prints come out looking professional every time.

Geographical poster design
Why is bleed so important to graphic designers?

So first of all, what are printers referring to when they talk about bleed? Bleed is a term where you extend the background colour or photo edges, right off the edge of your page, rather than ending right on it.

So, why would you need to do that?

Simply put, it aids trimming. Picture this – you have some lovely artwork you’ve put together for a poster or some flyers, with a nice green background. Now, imagine if the printers didn’t quite line up their trimming and it was a couple of mm out. What would happen?

If the trimming is off, your green background no longer runs right to the edge of your page. Instead, you’ll have an unprofessional white strip down one or several of the edges. This leads to your finished items looking unprofessionally designed, with nothing quite lining up properly.

Why bleed is so important in your designs.

So, now that you know what the problem is, the next thing to ask is:

HOW DO YOU COUNTER THIS? (Hint: it’s definitely bleed.)

Go ahead and add some bleed!

It’s a great idea to extend your background elements out past the trimming edge of the page – just in case. Just drag the elements out in whatever design software you are using. Good practice is 3mm past the edge, though some printers will ask for more.

Now, if trimming is a couple of mm out, noone will notice and your prints will still look professional.

Design artwork set up with correct amount of bleed.

Are there any other printing or design terms you’re unsure of? Drop me a line here and I’ll see if I can help!


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