What is bleed?

What Is Bleed, and Why Does Your Printer Need It?

Creating the appropriate amount of bleed for your artwork is essential in translating your initial vision to the final print space. Here we will discuss some of the basics of what bleed is and why your printer requires it for a good looking print.

What Is Bleed?

Bleed is the print term that is used to describe the elements of artwork that extends beyond the print area. No printer has the ability to print to the edge of a page without leaving a white border. Technically, there is no way to get around this. Professional printers are actually using a trick when they employ bleed – they will print an image on a larger sheet of paper and cull the paper down to the size that you originally wanted.

Without bleed, you cannot run your artwork to the edge of a page. Your home printer employs what is known as no bleed printing. Even if you try to print a full-screen image, you will notice that the white border, as thin as it may be, will always be there. This border translates horribly onto other surfaces – the artwork on your business cards, flyers and brochures will look noticeably unprofessional. Your desktop printer often tries to warn you of this phenomenon – you likely have seen the message, “One or more margins outside the printable area” or something similar.

Although the printers that professionals use are orders of magnitude more precise than any home printer, no printer in existence can print to the edge of a page without leaving a border!

When Do You Need Full Bleed Printing?

Full bleed printing is necessary if you cannot draw a 1/8″ margin on all sides of your image on a printed page. Fortunately, preparing your bleed printer printing design is a relatively simple task: All you have to do is create an image that is just slightly larger than your initial size and trim the edges, leaving you with a printed image that fully resembles the one you originally wanted to the naked eye.

Depending on the type of paper you are using and the size of the final image, bleed requirements may be slightly different from the 1/8″ standard. For instance, unmounted posters usually require 1/4″ bleed on all sides. Get in touch with your printing partner to determine how you can best prepare your images for the process.

Full bleed printing has another hidden advantage: The slight resizing of your image will showcase whether you have the highest fidelity possible. If you see obvious dithering or pixelation of your image with just a slight resizing, it is possible that you are not using the best quality, which will lead to an inferior print.

Do Not Try This At Home

Professionally culling the image down to the size that you want is the true value add of your professional service, because it is much harder than it sounds. You can certainly try it at home, but you may find your time better spent on other endeavors!

Are there any other printing terms that you want to learn more about? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to keep you informed. 

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