In print production, when someone mentions the word “bleed,” it doesn’t mean that they just received the paper cut to end all paper cuts. Bleed is a term used to refer to ink that runs all the way to the edge of a trimmed page. If the print design calls for ink to extend to the edge of the paper (the “trim”), then the ink is “bleeding” off the page, and a bleed needs to be built into the document before it’s released for printing.
Why is bleed important? Let’s use a business card as an example. After all, almost everyone has one and practically everyone has seen one.
When it comes time to print off a business card, the print service provider doesn’t have a small printer that is specially made for business cards, and neither does the printer hand-feed each business card-sized piece of paper one at a time. Also, it’s not as though a business card is printed on one sheet at a time, either appearing in the middle of a piece of paper or aligned to the left or right. Multiple copies of the card are printed at once for what is called a press sheet. This press sheet is then trimmed down to its final size (the standard size of 3.5” x 2”). This is why having a bleed and a trim, as well as a safe line, are important to the print process.
Trimming is the finishing process that cuts the printed piece down (literally) to the correct final size. Since this process is mechanized, building in a margin of error for both the printing and trimming processes will help the final product.
When building to the correct trim size, make sure that the image or the flat color extends beyond the trim limits by making the edges extend beyond the edges of the appropriate frames to allow for sufficient bleed. Usually, the bleed extends one-eighth of an inch (0.125 inch or 9-points) past the trim line.
The amount of bleed that the print project will need depends on the page size, the type of project it is, and how it will be printed, but typically the one-eighth of an inch size is good for most. A print service provider more often than not can reduce the amount of bleed but can’t extend it. Keep in mind that, on average, roughly 90% of what goes to a standard press is printed on oversized sheets. Printers order paper in different sizes, like 23” x 35”, for example. When the paper is cut down to what is called run size, the paper is 8.75” x 11.5”, which is then trimmed to 8.5” x 11” post-printing.
Make sure any artwork for projects like business card printing have the right bleed and trim lines. This will help to ensure that the finished product is as close to perfect as possible. Always remember: when it comes to printing, sometimes you need to let it bleed. At My1Stop.com we offer templates that show you where the bleed lines should be on most products offered.