What is a “bleed”, why do I need it, and how do I do it?

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If you’ve ever sent a file to a professional printer, you would have heard the term “bleed” used. So what is a bleed, why do I need it, and how do I do it?

A bleed is the area beyond the edges of your artwork. It’s not something that is intended to be printed, however it is sometimes visible if a printer hasn’t printed perfectly or if the cutting has been misaligned.

Think about if you were cutting out a photo that you printed at home. If you try and cut right on the edge, you risk having some thin white edges on your photo where your cutting hasn’t been perfect (because who can cut perfectly?) and so it is better to cut a little further in (even just a mm or two) to avoid white edges, even if it means losing a slight edge on your photo. If you’ve ever done this, you’ve used a bleed without even realising it.

Using a bleed guarantees that you will never have white edges.

Bleeds for a professional print job mean that you can run the artwork right to the edge of your page. Printers don’t print right to the edge, and so professionals print your artwork on larger paper and then trim it down to the size you want.

It is important to note that you should never include important information in your bleed area – remember, the bleed will be cut off on your final designs. So make sure you include all background artwork, photos, colours, etc in your bleed, but never text, titles or important details.

Check out our video tutorial below on how to set up your bleed in Photoshop CS6.



Sarah Clark

I'm a freelance graphic designer, church volunteer and first time mum with a passion for bringing a new level of creativity into churches through inspiring leaders and providing resources. My goal is to be able to self-fund my ministry goals through my freelance projects while being able to work from home and be a full-time mum, and I want to help others do the same.

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