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GrAcUc79's picture
98 pencils

What are bleeds and why do we need them?

In the link below is an informative detailed explanation of what bleeds are and why we need them in PDF format.

This is basic knowledge that every graphic designer should know before submitting their files for print.

Hope this is informative and let me know if it helped anyone!

Look out next week for "Basics of Colors and Profiles"


Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

geoff's picture
118 pencils

I get ads submitted to me without bleeds, cropmarks, fonts, colors still in RGB - it's really unbelievable. Don't they teach production in colleges anymore?

cbrophy78's picture
177 pencils

And imagine that i was in a class of all designers that had no sense of hand drawing.
Chris Brophy
Iklectek Designs

Chris Brophy
Iklectek Designs

designisgood's picture
29 pencils

Nice job breaking it all down for print design newbies or web people tasked with pumping out some print work for a change.

You could go on to explain a bit more about some of the PDF settings involved with setting this up properly as well but I digress... that's a whole other document.

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

Such as the beauties of the PDF/X-1a format. :)

Powerpoint is not a design application.

raz's picture
1 pencil

Whenever you create a PDF from almost any application, such as Illustrator, Indesign, and even Quark, you will see an option that says "Bleeds". If you are using Illustrator or Indesign, and you save the file as a PDF, this option will be under the "Marks and Bleeds" tab. In Quark 7, when you export a PDF, and click on options, you will find a "Bleeds" tab. You will have an option for top, bottom, left and right, but you can click on the little lock button (in Quark just use symmetric), and automatically use the same number in all four fields, which is what you really want to do. Basically all this does, it tells the program how much area outside your document to include in your pdf. So lets say your Illustrator document is 4x6, and you type in .125" in the bleed area. Illustrator will include an extra 1/8" all around. If you open this file in Reader or Acrobat, it should be 4.25x6.25. However, you must make sure that your artwork also extends beyond the edge of the document by 1/8", otherwise the extra area you are including is just going to be white, which will not really help. Hope this helps.


minxlj's picture
11 pencils

Production wasn't taught at all even when I went to college 7 years ago!! It was assumed by the tutors that printers or artworkers did all of that...which may be true in larger agencies, but when you work in a small agency or work for yourself, that isn't an option. The only reason I graduated knowing anything about print, was the fact that my father was a graphic designer too. I then went on to work for a newspaper where I learnt everything about print, which was invaluable!

It still shocks me that designers are graduating without knowing the basic fundamentals of design, let alone production skills. :-(

pokie's picture
1217 pencils

One class, one teacher. Just one taught about spot colors, seperations, etc. It actually made at least one person drop out of graphics. She couldn't handle spot color. OY!

He was an adjuct instructor who worked in prepress. Go figure.

rossgram's picture
45 pencils

Production wasn't taught to the designers at the school I went to, either ... the designers that were going through the School of Art, that is.

But those of us who tracked through the journalism program there got a full compliment of production skills ... and a strong understanding and appreciation for the importance of message.

Both of those skills are sadly missing in many of the freelancers and young beginning designers that I come across.

geoff's picture
118 pencils

Maybe InDesign should display warnings if objects ride right on the edge of the trim of your page? That would be really nice.

natobasso's picture
3951 pencils

What if you want something close to that edge, then you're dealing with warnings all day long...

Powerpoint is not a design application.

ikatron's picture
3 pencils

I have worked in the printing end of the industry for a few years and people just don't get it. I don't know how many times I have had to say, "A bleed is color that goes all the way to the edge of the paper" to "designers". I was fortunate because where I went to school they taught us a grip about sending our work to printers and what we needed to do to get it done right. We have made a ton of money off of these people who have no concept of the bleed.

That Girl

JimTee's picture
1 pencil

In the 80s was an estimator an production coordinator in the printing industry and where I went to school our training was very ‘’hands on’’. then in the 90s, I did a college level graphic design certificate and they never mentioned ‘’bleed’’. I guess that in this virtual world of ours people just assume that the design programs will fix the bleed issue on its own. Here’s another link for bleeds:


fuzedotprinting's picture
8 pencils

K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Just remember this checklist, when you are ready to send a project to your printer.

1. Design your project in the right program. - (not powerpoint, word or publisher.)

2. Correct Document Size- ( I gets tons of wrong doc sizes.)

3. All images are CYMK - (RGB color space images are bad)

4. Utilize Rich Black Settings on heavy black coverage.

4. Export your PDF with BLEEDS

NOTE: When saving your PDF specify .125 on all 4 sides.

This should take care, some of the basics. I know there is alot more to cover than these few items, But this should get you on the right path to achieving a better Print-Ready PDF.

cheers! =)

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