Bleed and Margins
You don’t always have to worry about bleed. But you should always keep your margins in mind so we’ll start with that. It’s very simple. All you need to do is make sure you leave a 3mm gap between any text and the edge of the page. The basic reason for this is when we’re cutting your beautifully printed product down to size, there’s a risk that text or graphics that are too close to the edge of the sheet may be lost. It’s almost impossible to cut exactly down the edge of your design mainly because paper moves ever so slightly as it passes through the press. This means that your design won’t be printed in exactly the same position on every sheet- only by fractions of a millimetre, but we’re after perfect here.
And nobody wants to get their business cards back to find the last digit of their phone number’s been cut off. So 3mm minimum please. Thank you.
Remembering that it’s almost impossible to cut exactly down the edge of your design should help you to understand the concept of bleed. Bleed is not as sinister as it sounds. In fact it is an essential part of creating artwork for print. Bleed is only relevant if your design goes to the edge of your page. In these cases, professional designers will always extend (bleed) background colours and images beyond the edges of the print area by about 3mm.
Without bleed, cutting just slightly outside the edge of the design will leave you with small white borders round the edges of at least some of the prints- not very professional looking. On the other hand, we could cut just inside the edge of your design to avoid the white edge, but then your finished prints would be smaller than you'd intended.
If you still don't follow, maybe this example of a business card will show it better. The red line is the edge of the canvas, and the dotted yellow line is the 3mm margin.
So lessons learned from the DS guide to bleed are:
- Leave a 3mm gap between any text (or anything else you don’t want chopping off) and the edge of the page
- Bleed background colours and images beyond the edges of the print area by at least 3mm.
Having problems sorting out the bleed in your design software? Here’s a bleeding top tip…(too cheesy? I think that was a little bit David Dickinson)
Design top tip: Bleed- With certain programs like Photoshop, you can’t extend beyond the edge of the canvas. In these cases, simply make the design area 6mm larger than the final document. For example, if you create an A4 leaflet, set up your document to be 303 x 216mm (as opposed to 297 x 210mm). But don’t forget that the edge 3mm of your design will be cut off!