An Explanation of ‘Bleed’

14/06/2012  | by: Shaun Cleary

Though it may not sound it printer bleed is a necessity. Though, most of us would consider the term ‘bleed’ to have a negative connotation in the printing world it’s an everyday word. For anyone who’s printed before, or taken part in some sort of printing, they’ll be familiar with the word. However, for newbies the term is a little mystifying. So, what is bleed?

When you send something to print it’s printed differently to we’ll say for instance your desktop printer. When you print at home the desktop printer will use pre-cut paper of a particular size. This is perfect for small scale production, however for companies who print thousands of items daily it’s not realistic.

Commercial printers use stock (paper) that’s bound tightly in rolls. For instance when you get an item printed it will be created side- by – side on these rolls. These will then be cut out and trimmed at the end of the process.

Here the prints will be cut out at a significant speed and though refined, sometimes paper can be cut a small area from where it should be. The bleed is the insurance. Essentially, it is an extra area added to the border of the print, which allows a small area of leeway in case the printer cuts out a little too close to the centre of the print.

The bleed area can be easily created on most photo programs on your computer and is a necessity for all sorts of printing, from banner printing to flyer printing. Of course, the bleed should never include anything that’s a necessity to the finished product and should be merely an extension of the background of the item.

Notes on Bleed:

·         Ask the printer the bleed required. Generally it’s around 3mm.

·         Make sure nothing of importance enters the bleed area such as logos, phone numbers etc

·         Proof it before you send it off to the printers.

If you find yourself reading this after you’ve finalised your item for print and you haven’t included a bleed don’t panic. Tell us your problem and we’ll do our best to take care of it. The only after production way to take a bleed into account is to slightly enlarge the item. This may cause resolution issues, but most of the time is unnoticeable if the image is a high resolution initially.

However, for those who haven’t created their image yet, make sure to include a bleed in your item. If you can go to a professional designer, who will always include a bleed in the design. This may cost a little more, but it’s still going to be a lot less than a bunch of prints that you can’t use. Using a professional graphic designer with a good quality print company ensures you get your money’s worth and have little to worry about when it comes to the final result.


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