Written by: Melanie Moore

Miles Cowperthwaite from Bel Air, Maryland sends us a letter asking, “You keep talking about bleeds and I’m pretty sure you’re not planning murder. How do I know if I have the bleeds? How do I add them to my documents if I don’t already have them?”

No, Mr. Cowperthwaite, we’re definitely not planning murder! And what a great question! Bleeds are very important in making sure your document gets printed the right way, and we’re happy to walk you through some of the most common ways of adding them.

A bleed is a buffer zone outside the printing area of a document. Bleeds are necessary to allow color or other content to stretch all the way to the edge of your page. The typical bleed is a padding of 0.125” added to all four sides of a document.

If you’re designing a document yourself, you will have to manually set up bleeds. If a graphic designer (like our wonderful team here at Curry Printing) is designing the document for you, they will establish bleeds so you won’t have to worry about it.

Here’s some of the most common ways to establish bleeds on your document:

  • To set up bleeds in Canva:

    • Click ‘Download’

    • Select ‘PDF Print’

    • Check the box that says ‘Crop marks and bleed’

    • Click ‘Download’ again

  • To set up bleeds in Word:

    • Click ‘Layout’ at the top of the page

    • Click ‘Size’

    • At the bottom of the list of options, select ‘More Paper Sizes’

    • Add .25 to the width so it’s now listed as 8.75

    • Add .25 to the height so it’s now listed as 11.25

    • Click ‘Margins’

    • At the bottom of the list of options, select ‘Custom Margins’

    • Add .125 to all four of the margin dimensions so each one reads 1.125

    • Be sure to export the document as a PDF when you’re done designing it

  • To set up bleeds in Photoshop (on a new document):

    • When you open a new document, add .25” to both the width and the height you’d like

    • Once you’re in the document, use the guide tools to set guides at .125” from the edge of the page

  • To set up bleeds in Photoshop (on an existing document):

    • Click ‘View’ from the top menu

    • Select ‘Rulers”

    • Drag a ruler to each edge of the page

    • Select ‘Image’ from the top menu

    • Click ‘Canvas Size’

    • Add .25” to both the width and height

    • After the size is adjusted, the rulers will stay in the same location so you’ll know not to put important designs past them

  • To set up bleeds in InDesign (on a new document):

    • When you open a new document, select ‘Bleed and Slug’

    • Enter .125 for the values of each edge

    • Check ‘Preview’

    • When you export the document, check the ‘Marks and Bleed’ tab – make sure the box that reads ‘Use Document Bleed Settings’ is checked with the correct .125 value

  • To set up bleeds in InDesign (on an existing document):

    • Click ‘File’ from the top

    • Select ‘Document Setup’

    • Enter .125 for the values of each edge

    • Check ‘Preview’

    • When you export the document, check the ‘Marks and Bleed’ tab – make sure the box that reads ‘Use Document Bleed Settings’ is checked with the correct .125 value

As always, if you’d prefer to send us your native document or have us do the designing for you, we’d be happy to help!