Bleed in Graphic Design

Bleed in Graphic Design: what is it for?

One of the questions that you might be asked when sending a file to print, is to do with bleed. A word that for many was, and maybe still is a real nightmare. What is bleed for? How is it calculated?  We will answer all these questions with a few simple hints and you will not go wrong any more.

Bleed: what is it and what does it do

Wherever you are going to order your print, you are always asked to provide them with a file with bleed. In printing, bleed is the overprinting edge of the sheet before trimming, In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. The cutting process may not be 100% accurate and is also an allowance for a margin of error of the design inconsistencies. Background colours can extend into the bleed area. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document.

You can see the difference in these examples below ……………………………………………………………………………………………….


It is very difficult to print exactly to the edge of a sheet of paper or card so, to do this, it is necessary to print a slightly larger area than is needed and then trim the paper or card down to the required size. Background images and fills which are intended to extend to the edge of the page must be extended beyond the trim line to give a bleed.

How is the bleed calculated?

It is a margin of a few millimetres (how many mms depends on each print size) it has to be added around the art, as if it were a frame. For example: if we have to print an A5 brochure of size 148 × 210 millimetres, we are likely to be asked for a file of 151 × 213 millimetres.

Each design might have different requirements. The normal is about 3mm all round but the best advice if you are not sure is to contact the printer directly and ask them. Also remember to keep within the bleed when adding text, you don’t want it to appear too near the edge as it might be cut off on the finished page size!

For further reading wikipedia

If you need any more information we are always happy to help contact-us

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  1. Avatar for Mary Cochrane Georgia Brooks : February 24, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Thanks so much for sharing such useful tips. Wonderful explanation. Keep it up.

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