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To Bleed or Not to Bleed?

That is the question. Or perhaps your question is, “what’s bleeding got to do with my design?” Granted, design work definitely comes from a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but when it comes to the world of printing, the term “bleed” has its own meaning.

Take a look at a magazine, poster, postcard, or any other piece of printed material. Do any of the images or colors go all the way to the edges of the paper? The print (ink or toner) has “bled” off the edge of the page. In reality, that particular piece was printed on a larger sheet of paper with that same image probably an eighth to a half inch larger on the outside edges. After printing, it was trimmed down to size so the print would be all the way to the finished edge. There are machines that print all the way to the edge to begin with. But typically, most printers require the extra margin so that the final piece can be trimmed down to size.

When you hire a company like Serious Solutions, you typically don’t have to worry about any of this. It’s our job to figure out what the best end-result will be and to create it correctly for the printers. It’s important for you to be aware of the “bleed” process though, even for your own in-office projects.

For example, perhaps you are going to print a poster for next week’s new Bible study. Maybe you have a particular image you want to use, and you insert it into your document before hitting “print.” Most likely, your printer is going to leave an eighth to a quarter inch of clean paper all the way around the edges. This is where the printer actually grasps the paper to send it through the machine, and it requires that amount of space. You need to keep this in mind because perhaps you will choose to position your image differently. You might resize it to be slightly smaller so the edges won’t be cut off. You might decide to place it in a different area on the page to avoid the appearance of accidentally being cropped.

Another reason to have a basic idea of this issue is the matter of cost. When you send a project to a printing company, if it requires “bleed,” remember that means it has to be printed on a bigger piece of paper, then trimmed to the correct final size. Sometimes, this can mean it will be more expensive than if the design already has white around the edges, and therefore will not require that extra work (aka: expense).

It can be a bit of a headache to consider all of this when creating what would seem to be a simple piece. But one thing about design work is that nothing – no matter how uncomplicated it appears – is ever actually that simple. But that’s why we’re here, and we’re happy to explain and walk you through any steps of the process from initial idea to final product.


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