Why is Bleed So Important When You are Designing for Print?

With so many things to remember when designing leaflets, flyers, brochures or even business cards, it’s very easy to forget the role of bleed.  The bleed area is the large area around your print design that will be trimmed by your printer when creating your final print.  Okay, it’s maybe not that large in terms of its actual size but it does play a large role in how your final print will look. 

So let’s take a look at why bleed is so important when printing and what it means for your printing needs:

The main reason for including bleed when designing printed materials for your business is to avoid the white strips that will run around the edge of your print.  This white strip can occur when there is movement during the printing process of your final document.  These lines can impact on the look of your printed document and in the case of business cards; brochures and flyers can at times cheapen the final look and feel of them.  By ensuring you remember the bleed area when designing for print; you will be able to ensure these white strips don’t appear.    

The bleed area is very important when you have an image or background colour on your print work.  If this is the case it is important to make sure they run to the end of the bleed area so that any movement in the print process will not result in problems with your background.  This is also the case when working with text on something like a brochure or flyer.  If you have a large heading on a page be sure to remember your bleed area if the text is going to appear tight to the side.  By doing this you will ensure the text remains on the page and doesn’t print like something looking to jump off your page!

What size is the bleed area?

The bleed area tends to vary depending on country but as a general rule, when printing in the UK the bleed area is 3mm (each side), in the US it is 1/8 inch (just over 3mm) and in Europe it tends to be between 2mm and 5mm.  When calculating the bleed area for your printed document you must take into account the bleed area on all four sides.  This means adding double the bleed dimensions to the length and width of your work area when creating your initial page.  If we take the UK bleed size as an example with a standard UK business card you add 6mm onto the length and 6mm to the width.  This means your print area will increase from 55mm x 85mm to 61mm x 91mm.  It is important to only include you background colour in this additional area and to put all other information in the main design area.

To help you get your bleed dimensions right, we have created a table of page dimensions including and excluding bleed.  This table is shown below and looks at the UK bleed measurement of 3mm. 

Page Size

Dimensions

Dimensions with Bleed

A0

841mm x 1189mm

847mm x 1195mm

A1

594mm x 841mm

600mm x 847mm

A2

420mm x 594mm

426mm x 600mm

A3

297mm x 420mm

303mm x 426mm

A4

210mm x 297mm

216mm x 303mm

A5

148mm x 210mm

154mm x 216mm

A6

105mm x 148mm

111mm x 154mm

A7

74mm x 105mm

80mm x 111mm

1/3 A4

99mm x 210mm

105mm x 216mm

Business Card

55mm x 85mm

61mm x 91mm

Setting the bleed area when designing

When designing for print you can apply the bleed area at the start when you are creating your document.  If you are using design software like Adobe Creative Suite, this is particularly easy to do as you can add the dimensions at the start menu.  You can then add guides when designing your final artwork to indicate the bleed area.  This way you won’t go too close to the edge which will ensure your final piece will be clear and easy to understand (provided you haven’t went into overkill in your design process). 

One final thought – remember the margin

Once you have set your bleed area and you are starting the design process, it is also worth including a margin.  This will help provide you with a good space to work in and will make your final print much better.  This margin area should be consistent throughout your design and while there is no exact measurement for margin, there are 3 sizes that tend to be most popular – 3mm, 5mm and 10mm.  While a margin area isn’t always used and can very much be a personal choice, if you want to get the most from your print materials for your business, it is something I would strongly recommend including.

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