What is bleed? A Handy Guide

Bleed is a very important aspect of the printing process. To get the best and most accurate results, we require bleed on all artwork files.

Here’s a handy guide to what it is, why we need it and most importantly, how to add it to your artwork.

What is bleed?

The term ‘bleed’ refers to the area around the edge of the artwork that gets cut off in the trimming process. The industry standard is to add 3mm to each edge. Trimming isn’t always 100% accurate, so we need a little wriggle room to account for this.

How do I add it to my file?

You just need to add 3mm bleed to each side of your file and make sure your artwork extends out into this area.

3mm bleed

Extend your colour/images into the 3mm bleed to avoid any white borders


Paper size

This is the edge of the paper when trimmed


Safe area

Avoid putting any important artwork in this area as it risks being trimmed off



Crop marks

These are used to specify where to trim the artwork. You don’t need to add these, we can add them ourselves


Adobe’s CC applications Illustrator and Indesign both have it built into their page setup dialogue boxes. Head to the document settings and tap 3mm into all dialog boxes and a red line will appear around your canvas (your artwork needs to stretch into this)

If you are using a programme that doesn’t have dedicated settings for bleed you will need to make sure your canvas is set up to the right size.

The easiest way to work it out is to simply add 6mm to the the length and width of the finished print size.

For example:

Canvas size: 210mm x 297mm
Canvas size including bleed: 216mm x 303mm

If you can set up your artwork with bleed before you start designing – perfect! Not to worry if it’s too late, that majority of the time it can be added afterwards, but there are occasions when it gets a bit tricky.

If you need any help with this, just give us a shout!

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