One of the most common problems our creative design teams see’s when receiving files for printing is the lack of bleed. Bleed is a printing term that is used to describe a document which has images or design elements that touch the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim edge leaving no white margin. When a document has bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down. Printing and trimming is pretty precise with minimal amount of paper movement, but if no bleed is applied to the document a hairline of unprinted paper will show up on the edges. This is why we like to see the bleed extended .125 inches (1/8″) on each side of your document.
The business card example below shows how a document should be set up with bleed.
You probably already know how to create a print-ready PDF, but creating a PDF that bleeds requires a few more steps. Follow the instructions below to create bleeds in Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Word.
1. In Document Setup set your document size to the final trim size. Set your bleed settings like the sample shown (1). All bleeds should be set to .125″.
2. When you are ready to make a PDF, select your desired export setting (we recommend Press Quality).
3. Under Export Adobe PDF options select Marks and Bleeds on the side menu. Make sure “Use Document Bleed Settings” is selected under Bleed and Slug. Compare your Marks and Bleeds Page to the preview shown (2).
4. Select Export. After your PDF is created, please review your PDF file. The dimensions should be your trim width with an additional .25″ and your height is your requested size with an additional .25″.
1. Microsoft Word does not have bleed settings. To allow for the bleeds, you will need to add .25″ to your width and to your height. This will allow for .125″ bleed area on all sides. (Example, if you would like a 5.5 x 8.5 postcard, you will need to make your document 5.75 x 8.75).
2. When you change your page size to include the bleed area your margins will not change. This means if you have your margins set to .375″ on 5.5 x 8.5, after the bleed area is trimmed o you will only have .125″ margins. We recommend increasing your margins to prevent important content from getting too close to the bleed area that will be cut off.
3. If you are ready to create a PDF, click File, then Save As, and select PDF in the drop-down menu.
4. After converting your Word document to a PDF, review the PDF to ensure no unwanted changes occurred during the conversion and that your document is the correct size.
Whew! That is it. The next time you send your PDF to us we know you’ll have mastered the bleed.