Bleeds, Borders, and Margins

One of the most misunderstood concepts in the printing industry is Bleed. To understand Bleed, we have to understand Trim and Margin. These are fairly simple concepts once we understand the fundamentals. This article will attempt to explain what Bleed is, how to use it and how to set it up for your printing projects.

What is Trim?

Trim is the Size of your final piece. If you are printing a standard business card, your trim size would be 3.5” x 2”. If you are printing a standard flyer, your trim size would be 8.5” x 11”. If you are printing a standard postcard your trim size would be 5.5” x 8.5”

What is Margin?

Margin is the size of the space between your trim and any important element in your design. This includes type, images or anything else you don’t want cut off in your final print. Margin size can vary quite a bit depending on project type/design, but you should always have at least 0.125” of margin on anything you don’t want cut off.

What is Bleed?

Bleed is the amount of extra artwork that “bleeds” past your trim.

How Do I Get a Perfect Print?

The reason we need both bleed and margin is simple. Cutting paper is not a perfect process. Without Bleed, cutting imperfections will leave white space at the edge of your sheet. Without Margin, important elements will be cut off your printed piece. When a file is setup correctly with both Bleed and Margin, the extra artwork (Bleed) is cut off along all 4 edges and no important elements in your design go with it.