How To Print Like a Pro – Tip #1: Set Your Bleed

Bleeds are probably the most important and the least well-understood element to a print-ready file. A bleed is extra padding around all four sides of your document, of which the colors or images touching the edge of the paper, bleed onto. This padding is usually 1/8” extra on each side.

A bleed’s main purpose is to avoid any white slivers of unprinted paper from showing on the edges after its trimmed down to size. If the color goes past the edge of the cut line, that will avoid any room for minor cutting error’s and will leave your print pieces looking clean and professionally done.

With this in mind, it’s important that your print ready documents be set up with bleeds from the beginning, so you can design with them as you go.

So now lets learn how to set them up!

Illustrator and InDesign

In both Illustrator and InDesign, setting up bleeds from the get-go is easy. When creating a new document, in the “Bleed” field, make sure all four sides are set to .125 in.

Now, when you’re designing, just make sure any color or image that you intend to run off the page, is extended to that red line outlining your art boards or pages.

When saving your final PDF, you want to make sure that your bleeds are saved out as well.

No matter what “PDF Preset” you have selected, make sure you go into the “Marks and Bleeds” tab on the left hand side of the “Save Adobe PDF” panel and check the box that says “Use Document Bleed Settings”.

Photoshop

Photoshop however, does not have any inherent bleed settings. This is because Photoshop isn’t typically supposed to be used for print production (nor do we recommend it), but for many, it’s the only program they know how to use.

In order to “fake” a bleed into your Photoshop file, you merely just add .25” to your height and width of your intended cut size.

For example, if you wanted to create business cards that are 3.5”x2”, you would create a canvas that is 3.75”x2.25”, and make sure you only put designed content within the 3.5”x2” parameters. Just be sure to tell your print shop your intended cut size, so that you’re all on the same page and they understand that you’ve built in a bleed.

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Once again, thanks to Mariah Althoff for the tips and if you have any questions, feel free to find us on social media and reach out, we love to hear from you!