Artwork for "Full-Bleed" Commercial Printing

Balsa Wood Grain

What is it?

"Bleed" is a term used to describe printing that goes all the way to the edge of the paper... with no blank margin area.

Document Size

To set up artwork for a bleed, you must make the artwork larger than the item you wish to have printed. In most cases, 1/8" larger on all sides is sufficient.

Example: For a standard 4x6 postcard to be printed with a bleed you will need to set the document size to 4.25" x 6.25". This is arrived at from 4" finish size + 1/8" extra on each side; and likewise top and bottom.


Because your document size is larger than the finished piece, your margins will need to be set differently.

For the 4 x 6 postcard example, an actual 1/8" margin on the finished piece will require setting a 1/4" margin in your software. This is because the software will be measuring from the outside of the oversized area.

Note: This will look on screen like a very large margin. It will help to create a box too show the cutting edge.

Background / Foreground

Your background image, design, or color must completely fill your document, including the extra 1/8" on all sides.

Any foreground copy, such as type, logos, etc. must stay inside of margins set according to the directions above.

Note: If done correctly, no part of your design should stop at the cutting edge - foreground nor background.

Why its necessary

Printing is not a perfect science. Each sheet of paper that is printed may be in a slightly different position. Likewise, the cutting process may move slightly.

The extra background prevents having a thin white strip showing on the edge of the finished item; caused by the cutting and printing processes not aligning perfectly.

Photo credits: Dennis Tokarzewski.
Dennis Tokarzewski
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  • Dennist1
  • Micco, United States

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December 08, 2017

Well organized information, but there is a small problem ... word usage: "to versus too. As a professional writer, I know how easy it is to allow "rushed, crushed, and unpolished" texting habits creep into your blogging and professional writing. It's also easy to skip time-consuming steps of proofing, revising, and self-examining. However, once an error is published, it is cemented in print, where it conveys all sorts of ideas to the reader about the writer's skill. Whatever the reason, even if it's unintentional oversight - which can happen to anyone - the fact remains that an error is telling the reader that someone is careless, sloppy, or deficient in writing skills. And it distracts the reader's eye and detracts from the easy flow or transfer of knowledge; something you don't want to happen, especially when you write in such an organized and concise way. Always re-proof after a spell check. And don't be afraid to hold yourself to a polished standard on blogs.


December 07, 2017

Very useful, tweeted this article to my 'followers'.


December 05, 2017

Nice article :)