Bleed – the key to edge-to-edge printing
Bleed is one of the most important factors to consider when sending your artwork to print. The subject of
bleed is often misunderstood though and it is one of the most common reasons we have to contact the
customer to re-supply their artwork.
What is Bleed?
If part or all of a design is intended to meet the edge of the sheet it is printed onto then in printing terms
the parts that meet the edges are said to ‘bleed off’. They should be extended by at least 3mm so that the
excess can be guillotined off after printing. In addition, we recommend making sure that text and other vital
information remains at least 4mm inside the edges.
As you can see, the designer makes the design larger than the page that will be printed. The designer also
puts crop marks onto the work that show the actual intended size and act as cutting guides during the
Let us say that you wish us to print an A4 leaflet / poster with a background that covers the whole sheet.
We would need to receive from you artwork that is actually bigger than A4 and with crop marks (1).
We would then print it on a larger sheet and use the crop marks to trim it down to A4 size - therefore
producing the desired finished result (2).
How do I get bleed?
If your artwork is being created by a designer and then you are forwarding it to us to print, all you need to
do is make sure that they supply the artwork in PDF format with 3mm bleed and crop marks - as per the
If you are making your own artwork then it depends on the program you are working with as to how you go
about putting bleed on your work, some instructions on how to achieve this, using the most commonly used
programs are on the next few pages.
Indesign has a built in bleed function. You can activate this at any time during the design process and the bleed guide will appear on screen as a red line around the page you are laying out.
Choose the File menu (at the top left) of the screen. Select Document Setup from the drop down menu and in the window that pops up there will be information
about the current page size.
At the bottom of this window will be the option to input Bleed and Slug. Ignore Slug and set all of the Bleed boxes to 3mm.
Note – you may have to click on MORE OPTIONS to show Bleed and Slug.
Make sure you increase the size of the background to meet the new guidelines.
When you are making your PDF (File > Export > PDF)
you must additionally select Marks & Bleeds and check Cropmarks and Document Bleed Areas.
Unlike with Indesign, how you go about putting bleed on varies depending on the version of Quark Xpress you are using. If you are using one of the latest versions, then there is a dedicated ‘bleed’ panel which simplifies the process. If however you are using an earlier version, then the same can be achieved, you just have to go about it a different way.
Pull the edges of your background over the edges of your artwork at the places where you want it to meet the edge of the sheet (bleed off).
Under the File menu – choose Export and then Layout as PDF.
Now you will be presented with a window in which you can input information about the new PDF as well as set the bleed and crop marks.
Name of the new PDF and (optionally) any other information.
This is largely irrelevant to a printed document but tick by default everything will be ticked – this should
ensure that any web addresses and email addresses in the text will be selectable on screen in the PDF.
This is split into three categories and relates to different types of images within the document. For the best
quality, these should all be set to
and Resolution: Keep Resolution.
Follow these settings:
•Type – Composite
•Print Colours – CMYK (unless you have been told
•Produce Blank Pages – Check
•Registration – Centred
•Offset – 6pt
•Bleed – Symmetric
•Amount – 3mm
Check all boxes EXCEPT ‘Low Resolution’
Click on OK when all your PDF preferences are ready to
In order to do this you need to have the facility to create PDFs from Publisher. If this is not listed under the
File menu you need to download and install the free plugin from Microsoft at this website:
Once this is installed go ahead and design your page - extend graphics and the background over the
edges of the of the sheet on screen.
Now select File > Publish as PDF or XPS At the bottom of the next screen is a selection to Optimise for - press Change and choose
Commercial press (this ensures that the colours and quality will be correct).
Choose Print Options and change the printing size to custom. Publisher will need an extra cm all the way around to fit the bleed and crop
marks in (Publisher measures in cm not mm)
Check Allow Bleed
Check Allow Crop marks
Finally click on OK to produce the final PDF.
Note: A design checker will run through any points of concern that may cause printing errors. This report is quite valuable and worth considering.
Publisher formats Pre-2007
Place the bleed on as described above but then these will need to be submitted to us where we will update
them to 2007 and complete the procedure. Because of this conversion process we will need a printed copy
from you as reference, to check that nothing has gone astray.
Achieving bleed in Word is much more complicated as Word does not allow anything to be placed over the edges of the document on screen.
There are ways around this limitation but Word files should be submitted to us with a printout so that we can process them ourselves.