Understanding & using full-bleed appropriately can take your print design to a more professional level. In this article, we are going to help with properly adding bleed to your design.
A few things we will go over:
- Full Bleed Designing
- Why is full bleed needed for printing
- Safety margins
- Common Mistakes
What is Full-Bleed for printing?
If your design has any colors or graphics touching the edge of the paper for aesthetic purposes ( trim line ), it needs to be carried over to the bleed line. The bleed line extends .125 of an inch from the cut line. See the image below.
Not understanding or executing bleeds for your design can take a good design and make it look like a mess and unprofessional. The lack of bleed can leave uneven and unwanted white borders, which diminishes your design. Nothing screams a lack of professionalism and do-diligence, then misusing or not using full-bleed in your design work.
We will start with three basic factors with the layout for your business cards. Most print shops will require you to follow these three fundamental factors before sending your artwork to them. Others would rather not even deal with it and send it to print, leaving you with something much less than what you were hoping for.
Bleed: the outermost part of the card that will be removed.
Trim: the target line for cutting cards.
Safety: anything outside this line is subject to cutting mistakes. Don’t let essential elements like text or logos fall outside this line.
Why do printers need .125 of bleed for printing?
All printers have a slight print shift when printing. Either due to the mechanics of the printer or the paper. Giving your artwork the extra .125 inch on your file will allow some room for shifting without compromising the quality of your design.
Keep in mind that shops will be printing your files on a commercial size printer and not your typical office printer. Being able to do your job with multiple cards up at once allows them the ability to print your artwork in a timely manner and make money. With an office printer, you would typically print your business cards eight up. On a commercial printer, you can average between 18″ to 24″ parent sheets, depending on what type of digital press.
If you are running these offset, they can run your cards on parent sheets of up to 40″ and usually be running multiple jobs up with every run.
The full-bleed on your design helps them cut your cards from the parent sheet with better quality and manageable time.
The trim line of your design is the size of the finished work after it is trimmed. Anything between the trim and bleed line will be removed. This is an excellent place to introduce the safety line and the reason why you need to treat the safety line as a margin for your design. Remember, your art will move while in the printing process. Keeping all your content that you don’t want to be cut needs to stay within the safety line.
Common Mistakes when creating a full-bleed design for the printer.
Stretching the file to meet the required bleed for your artwork is a common mistake that is made. This usually happens when the printer rejects the artwork because of the lack of or no bleed. The customer will then stretch the artwork .125 past the trim line and resubmit the design.
By not fully understanding how bleed works in their design, some text or artwork that was meant not to be cut was, of course, partially cut. This can easily result in an unusable end product.
Another common mistake is adding a colored or white border around your artwork to make up for the bleed. When the design shifts during the printing process, it will be more than likely to leave some of the colored borders on your finished product.
Borders in printing are usually never a good idea—especially when using a digital press for your job. This is not to say it’s not possible, more than likely the finished product isn’t going to be what you were hoping, as I said before, printing shifts in the process. Trying to keep a consistent border around the finished product can be almost impossible.
Paying the extra cost to run your job offset will probably offer what you would want in borders for your design. So, if it’s in the budget and it’s essential to the design, I would say go for it. There are a few print shops here in Utah that I believe are pretty adept at such work.