What The %^#@ Is A Bleed?

A Miss Emily Litella from Brooklyn, New York, writes in and asks:

Q: Why in the world do you people always ask if I have a bleed? Are you all so concerned with paper cuts??

A: Emily, let me see if I can explain. In printing, a “bleed” is what we call a design that is printed right to the edge of the paper. Look at what you have designed: is there a white margin around the edge, or does your art go all the way to the boundary of the page? If there is no white margin, congratulations, you have a bleed!

This can be significant and of particular interest to those of us tasked with actually taking your file and printing it out on the paper you want.

Our presses and copiers don’t print right to the edge of a sheet of paper, so if your image “bleeds” we have to print it out on an oversized sheet and cut it down to the correct finished size. If you don’t (or aren’t able to) provide us with “bleeds and crops,” then we will have to do it for you so your file prints out the way you want it to. That usually involves extending your image over the boundaries of the size of the page you want printed, and adding marks so we can all see where the cutting will take place.

Typically, we request about 1/8” bleed allowance, which means that the image needs to extend 1/8” past the final cut mark. We can help you do that yourself, or we can do it for you. As with most services, the more you can do yourself, the less we have to charge you for your project.

As you can see, “bleeds” can add cost to your project by potentially taking more prepress/graphic design time to prepare your file properly, as well as having to run your job on larger paper, and then trim it down.

So, this is why we always are asking our customers about bleeds! Not that we Baltimore Printers aren’t interested in your paper cuts too, though…

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what is a bleed