In the printing industry, “bleed” refers to a crucial concept that ensures printed materials appear seamless and professional. When designing documents such as brochures, business cards, or posters, bleed is necessary to accommodate any slight variations in printing and trimming processes.

Bleed is essentially the area beyond the final trim size of a printed piece. Designers intentionally extend images, colors, or background elements beyond the document’s final dimensions, typically by an additional 1/8 inch (3mm) or more. By doing so, they ensure that when the document is printed and trimmed to its final size, there are no unprinted or white borders visible along the edges.

The reason for incorporating bleed is twofold. First, during the printing process, slight movements or shifts can occur, leading to slight misalignments. By having bleed, any misalignment or trimming variations will not result in unwanted white edges or incomplete graphics.

Secondly, when a printed piece is trimmed to its final size, the cutting process is not 100% precise. There might be minor deviations in the positioning of the blade or slight movements of the paper. By extending the design beyond the trim size, the variations in cutting won’t affect the intended visual elements or text, allowing for a clean and professional appearance.

To ensure proper use of bleed, designers need to set up their documents correctly. They create the document at the trim size, extend any necessary images or backgrounds into the bleed area, and then provide the file to the print service provider. The print provider will then trim the document to the desired size, effectively removing the extended bleed area, resulting in a professionally finished product.

In summary, bleed is the intentionally extended area beyond the final trim size of a printed document. It ensures that there are no unwanted white borders or incomplete graphics after the printing and trimming processes. By incorporating bleed, designers can achieve visually seamless and professional printed materials.