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Bleed

Bleeds are essentially the part of printed material that is meant to be trimmed away, leaving artwork that covers right to the edge of the finished print piece. It’s not a difficult concept to understand but can be tricky to learn without seeing examples. What’s more, when designing a print piece on a computer, every program handles bleeds a bit differently.

If your software or design file type is not listed here, contact our graphics department to find out how best to submit your artwork.

Here is the card set 10-up on a page. 

But there is hardly a cutting device in the world that could slice perfectly between the cards if they were printed as shown here. This is called a “dead-cut” and is generally avoided.

The slightest move of the page (or any pages in a stack being cut together) will leave a sliver of the image from one card on the edge of its neighbour. Or, for outside cuts, you might see a sliver of the white of the paper.

Now, you might suggest cutting just a bit in from each edge, but then, your cut business cards are smaller than the standard size. As well, this becomes problematic on a guillotine.

Instead, the design is printed with artwork going beyond where the edge of each card will be cut, and “double cuts” are used between each row/column.

You can see that the background image has been “opened up” to show more of the photo; anything beyond the trim marks or in the middle of double-cuts will be cut away, leaving just the business cards with the image going right to the edge as intended.

This is a single card set up with proper bleeds. 

Also shown here is a ‘safety margin’. Again, regarding the possibility of slight shifts during cutting, it is wise to keep important elements (text, logo, etc.) away from the edges of the finished card.

This is also an aesthetic decision, much like text in a book, where a margin around the edges usually helps with readability. However, you are obviously at liberty to design according to your tastes.

Most print shops will prefer that you send them the artwork set up like above (1-up, and without the border or margin lines) so they can take care of any hang-ups based on their unique production habits.

Separation

The method of creating printing plates for each ink that will be used is aptly called separation. Using our process colour printed bird photo from above, the CMYK separations would look something like this:

Application

Notes

CorelDRAW Set up page layout to finished size, and set bleed (recommend 1/8”). Show bleed guide (View> Show> Bleed). Perhaps add guides for safety margins.
Freehand Set document properties (Window> Document) to finished size, and set bleed (recommend 1/8”). Perhaps add guides for safety margins.
Illustrator Set up artboard to finished size. Perhaps add guides at bleed size and/or safety margins.
InDesign Set up document to finished size. Add bleeds in document setup (recommend 1/8”). Set safety margins in document setup.
Photoshop Set canvas size to bleed size (recommend 3.75” x 2.25” at 300 dpi). Perhaps add guides at trim size and/or safety margins. Ensure image is in CMYK mode.
Publisher Set document size to finished size. Place graphics/images beyond edge of page for bleed.
QuarkXPress Mac only, please. Set document size to finished size. Place graphics/images beyond edge of page for bleed.
Word Format page to bleed size (recommend 3.75” x 2.25”). Set margins to bleed width plus safety margin (e.g. 0.3” each side). Whenever possible, send image files (e.g. background image, logo) separately from Word file (as well as placed in document where desired). Use text frames to better control layout. Sample file: bcard.doc 28 kB.

Note: Whenever possible, send us the original file rather than, say, a PDF.

CorelDRAW

Set up page layout to finished size, and set bleed (recommend 1/8”). Show bleed guide (View> Show> Bleed). Perhaps add guides for safety margins.

Freehand

Set document properties (Window> Document) to finished size, and set bleed (recommend 1/8”). Perhaps add guides for safety margins.

Illustrator

Set up artboard to finished size. Perhaps add guides at bleed size and/or safety margins.

InDesign

Set up document to finished size. Add bleeds in document setup (recommend 1/8”). Set safety margins in document setup.

Photoshop

Set canvas size to bleed size (recommend 3.75” x 2.25” at 300 dpi). Perhaps add guides at trim size and/or safety margins. Ensure image is in CMYK mode.

Publisher

Set document size to finished size. Place graphics/images beyond edge of page for bleed.

QuarkXPress

Mac only, please. Set document size to finished size. Place graphics/images beyond edge of page for bleed.

Word

Format page to bleed size (recommend 3.75” x 2.25”). Set margins to bleed width plus safety margin (e.g. 0.3” each side). Whenever possible, send image files (e.g. background image, logo) separately from Word file (as well as placed in document where desired). Use text frames to better control layout. Sample file: bcard.doc 28 kB.

Note: Whenever possible, send us the original file rather than, say, a PDF.