Building a Bleed on Printed Pieces

Bleed on printed pieces is when the image runs to the edge of the sheet. Thus the image bleeds off the sheet.

Let me start with the term trim because it is the primary factor in using bleed on brochures, flyers, doorhangers and other printed pieces. Trim is the term that refers to the size of the final cut paper size in reference to the ad, brochure, flyer or book size. Thus if the Ad size is going to be 5x7 for an insert it will be trimmed to 5x7.

Bleed is a term used to refer to image that runs off the edge of a trimmed page. If your designed piece has an image that extends to the edge of the paper ("trim"), your image needs to ("bleed") off the page and you will have to build bleed into your design. If you design an Ad that calls for image to run to the edge of the paper or trim, the commercial printer will have to print the designed piece on a sheet of paper that's larger than the actual size of your Ad or trimmed size. He will then trim the larger sheet of paper down to actual ad trim size in this case 5x7. You will need to build bleed into your document that extends beyond the ad trim size.

When the commercial printer cuts the Ad, none of the paper color will show at the paper's trimmed edge. The normal bleed is going to be an 1/8". Why can't a commercial printer cut to the exact trim size? Printing being a manufacturing process that mass produces products we have to build in a margin of manufacturing for the processes and machines. Presses can vary from sheet to sheet. Folders will vary from sheet to sheet and cutters cut 100's of sheets at a time so the sheets can move.

When I'm talking about these machines varying we are talking about a very small amount of variation but they will vary. This is why we build in margin of manufacturing so the end product is very consistent and looks the same from piece to piece. Bleed is a part of that margin of manufacturing. This way if the cutter pulls as it cuts through the stack the extra bleed enables you to not see the white of the paper.

See also:
- Software Programs in Printing
- What is a Page to a Printer
- Full Color Printing

Written by Odee prepress
The Odee Company