What is a Bleed?

February 4, 2015  |  artwork, bleeds, cutting, printing, production


What is a “bleed” ?

A bleed is any element that extends up to or past the edge of a printed page. Items intended to extend off the page need a bleed allowance to compensate for slight variations when printing and cutting the edges of the paper. Professional printers use a standard bleed of .125” (1/8”) to ensure no blank edges are left. Without a bleed included in artwork, a non-printed gap or blank edge can appear in the production process.

If you’ve baked cookies, think of using a cookie cutter cutting through cookie dough.  If you try to cut exactly on the edge of rolled out dough, you often get a piece that is off just a little. That cookie ends up missing dough from one side and doesn’t look quite right. Cutting printed pieces is much the the same idea.  

Bear in mind that printing and cutting are processes involving machines. We can’t possibly align the cutter with each piece individually and then cut it out of the larger sheet. It would take forever and cost a fortune. Instead, printing and cutting are performed using machines. But even these very accurate machines cannot align perfectly every single time and sometimes the printing or cutting will be off just a very small amount. Usually so small, no one can notice. Unless, of course, there is suddenly a sliver of unprinted paper or blank edge where the printing should be.

Artwork should be set up to print beyond the die cut lines to account for the times when the production is slightly misaligned. That way, if the cutter misses the line, there will still be a printed image on the final piece.  If you do not extend the printed artwork beyond the trim lines, the result is a small gap of unprinted material.

Making sure this doesn’t happen to your printed piece can be as simple as extending your artwork’s image area or color at least .125” (1/8”) beyond the trim lines. When the piece is cut, there are no gaps or blank edges!

All of us here at Bethart Printing Solutions are always ready to help you understand what you need to do to create artwork that is properly prepared for printing.