So, you’re designing a new business card or flyer for your company. The preliminary designs are looking great. The edge of your document is lined up perfectly. You send it off to the printers. Upon receiving it back, it seems as though the design doesn’t quite reach the edge. Ugh, what gives?!
It sounds like you didn’t plan for print bleed.
What the Heck is Print Bleed?
Though modern printers and design software programs are extremely precise these days, there are still a lot of variables in the process. Paper conditions, mechanical calibrations, and a wide range of other items can mean that your design doesn’t extend to the full edge of your print medium. This is why it is crucial to plan for what is called “print bleed.”
A print bleed or “printing bleed” is an area beyond the scope of the primary design — kind of a no-man’s land. Depending on the size of the design, paper, and printer used, the print bleed zone can vary in size.
Not Designing With Print Bleed
When you don’t design with print bleeding in mind, you run the risk of your design not meeting the edge of the document. This empty area will produce an unintentional border of varying size where the paper is left unprinted. Even if the print bleed is just a few millimeters thick, it can still make the design look sloppy and inconsistent.
Designing the Print Bleed Area
While there is a chance that a design created without print bleed in mind will be printed just fine, there’s just about the same chance that the annoying print bleed border will show up in the final print. This is why it’s essential to continue the design into the print bleed zone. With this being said, because there is a chance that this zone will not show up, the design of the print bleed should not be integral to the main design itself. Instead, it should only give you leeway/wiggle room in order to wind up with a design that is guaranteed to reach the absolute edge of the print.
What is the Average Print Bleed?
Designing with the print bleed in mind isn’t complicated. If you’re designing an item to be printed, many commercial printing companies will advise that you carry your design into about a quarter-inch (.25”) of print bleed space around the furthest most edge of your design. Whether it winds up in the final print or is absent, your prints should come out looking great.