Unless you’ve had direct experience with printing, the print process or creating artwork for print, then you may well ask What on Earth is bleed?
The simple answer is this:
If you have a document or page where you want the image/colour or background to run right to the edge of the page, then you need to provide bleed.
BLEED IS ‘EXTRA’ PRINT BEYOND THE DESIRED CUT EDGES OF A PAGE OR DOCUMENT, WHICH IS PUT IN PLACE AT THE ARTWORK STAGE TO ALLOW FOR THE VAGUARIES OF THE GUILLOTINE CUTTING PROCESS.
Basically, all printed material needs to be cut down at the finishing stage (often because it is printed on much bigger sheets to reduce production cost) and therefore must be guillotined along the desired edges/proportions. As both print machines (particularly digital) and guillotines can (and do) shift + or – 1, 2 or more mm in the production process, then it is nearly impossible to print and cut an exact printed image without having extra, unwanted ‘white’ edges around the target area, resulting in a huge amount of waste.
The application of ‘bleed’ reduces this anomaly, particularly effective when you’re dealing with huge print volumes.
THE IMAGE ABOVE SHOWS 2 DOCUMENTS. THE ONE ON THE LEFT REQUIRES THE IMAGE TO PRINT ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE – THEREFORE REQUIRES BLEED. THE ONE ON THE RIGHT HAS A WHITE BORDER, SO DOESN’T REQUIRE BLEED.
So how do you apply bleed to artwork?
Well, it’s pretty simple – just add more!
On whatever design software you’re using, make your working page the exact finished size you require (for example – A4 210x297mm).
Now apply your image/background or colour art to ‘continue’ beyond these borders (usually a minimum of 2.5mm beyond each edge – your printer will let you know if any more is required).
When you save as pdf, select crop marks and set your bleed measurement.