How and why to add bleed

How and why to add bleed
Surely one of the most commonly asked questions in print.
When you create a document where the image goes right to the edge of the page you need to add an area of bleed. This is because we print on an over-sized sheet and trim it down to size, or sometimes multiple images are printed on much larger sheets before trimming down to size. It is not possible to cut exactly to the edge of your design so you need to make sure the design “bleeds” over the edge of the finished size area, usually by around 3mm, or a white line can appear where the image is cropped. When we trim into an area of bleed, it means you get a nice clean edge to the print and not a white line.
It is standard practice to add 3mm bleed and it should be added to the entire document, not just on the edges where the image bleeds off.

You should also leave a safe zone of at least 3mm inside the document to make sure that your text is not too close to the trimmed edge. This is not the same as adding bleed. Remember that the 3mm bleed is OUTSIDE the page and is designed to be trimmed off so make sure your background is extended to fill the bleed area, not just enlarged or you may still end up with some of your image missing. Don’t forget to allow an extra margin on the left hand side of each page if your document is being bound.
Step One (for InDesign or Illustrator)
Make sure when you create your document / artboard that you select the bleed option and include 3mm all around.
Step Two
Create your design including the bleed area extending any backgrounds or images (use the preview mode to see how your document looks when the bleed is trimmed)
Step Three
Save your design before exporting as a PDF. (Note at this point that your document should contain all links before you export to PDF. If you export when links are missing your images will not be at the optimum resolution when printed).
Step Four
Choose the “press quality” option in the save window and make sure that crop marks and bleeds are checked, along with the box that says “use document bleed settings - see image below
N.B. If you design in Photoshop you will need to increase the canvas size by 3mm all round to allow for bleed, there is no option to include it so this makes an allowance. Save your Photoshop file as a PDF and don’t worry, there won’t be crop marks, but we can allow for this when we process the file for print.

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