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Designing for Print: What is the Bleed Area and why is it Important?

Designing for Print: What is the Bleed Area and why is it Important?

CWDmedia, Skunk Anansie, bleed area

Throughout the whole designing process you have to always think one step ahead. This helps you to minimise the risk of errors in your work. So a crucial factor to always keep in mind, when putting your business card or brochure design together, should be to include an additional bleed area around your work.

What is the bleed area?

Think of the bleed as a protective border around your designed layout. It’s there, so that when the product is cut, all of your important information remains safely within the frame you wanted.

It makes sense to think that if important images and features are positioned near the edge of a layout, there is a risk that they may accidentally get cut off. You don’t want that and neither does the printer.

It is also used to avoid strips of white paper showing on the edges of your print, should the batch be misaligned when cut to size. This is because the ink is allowed an extra space to literally ‘bleed’ over the edges.

Why is it Important?

Somebody clearly had to learn the hard way, at some point, that not having that extra space there, led to some costly mistakes. You don’t want that worry. So that’s why the bleed area was invented, to save clients and printers from major errors and headaches.  It offers you peace of mind, so always use it. It is there to help.

So How Much of a Bleed Area Do I Need to Leave?

3mm is the general recommendation. You can easily add this extra space in applications like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

But if you want to get specific with print area margins, it’s recommended you leave at least 10mm from all sides for A4 documents, 8mm for A5, 6mm for A6 and 4mm for business cards.  Personally though, I’ve always stuck to 5mm on all sides and have never had an issue – most printers I work with only ask for 3mm as a minimum.

To give you an idea of how this extra room will affect your work we recommend you adding a ‘crop mark’ around your design to indicate to yourself and the printing company what the finished product will look like.

The Bleed is there to Help You

These requirements are there not to give us more work but to help minimize stress, so don’t forget to add that breathing space, because that’s exactly what it is.


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