Printers’ Vocabulary: Get to know your Bleed

If you don’t work in print, you may be forgiven for thinking that bleed, crop marks, and trim refer to open wounds, UFO’s in fields and a quick trip to the barbers!

But for anyone looking to get into the world of print, or even simply design a document to be printed, these seemingly random words are key.

Continue below to learn the differences between bleed, slug, and trim, why they are important, when they should be used, and how to add them to your own projects.


What is bleed?

Bleed is an extra area of print that is added around the edge of the document, usually around 3mm in size, beyond where the document will eventually be cut.

Why is bleed important?

Bleed may sound unnecessary – why add an area of print that will only be cut off? Isn’t that a waste? Well, bleed is actually an important fail-safe when printing documents, as, even with print experts and high-tech machines like we have here at QuickPrint, the cut can never be 100% accurate. Bleed ensures that when the document is eventually cut, whether this is using a guillotine or a good old pair of scissors, the printed design extends all the way to the edge. This means that if the cut is bigger than it should be, there isn’t an unsightly white margin left around the edge.

When and where is bleed used?

Bleed is used whenever a document has print that will be near the edge where it will be cut to size. This could be a coloured background, pattern, photo, design, or even text or a logo.

The only time that bleed is not necessary is if you are printing a document with no printed background, where the content is far from the edge (like a Word document, for example). This is because it won’t be noticeable if the document is not cut/printed exactly to size.

If in doubt?

If you’re really stuck the best option is to allow a bigger margin around the edge of your printed items. For example, make sure nothing important is less that 8mm from the edge of the page.

And finally…

Our new all-singing Pre-Flight and Proofing system will mirror the edge to fill the bleed area.