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What is a bleed? Printing and graphic design terms.

What is a bleed? Printing and graphic design terms.

Bleed is the technical term for the part of the printing that gets cut off so that it looks like printing goes right to the edge. There is some measurements to consider:

Cut size, and bleed size.

Cut size is the final size of a document after it has been trimmed. Trim marks are used by the print finisher to know where to cut the printout so that what is left is the final size document (and some paper scraps)

Bleed size is different depending on what the printer requires but usually this is 3-5mm.

Here is a demonstration of what is happening:

bleed printing and graphic design terms learn bleed printing and graphic design terms learn

bleed printing and graphic design terms learn

So after trimming, there is the final printout at the correct final size and there is a bunch of scrap paper. (This normally gets recycled and is called pre-consumer waste).

bleed printing and graphic design terms learn

Why is this important?

In order to have your printing go right to the edge, you need to make sure that your printer has bleed. Some home and office printers do print right to the edge, but generally they don’t. There is normally that thin strip of white. This is because the printer can’t print there – and it is different on all printers.  A professional printer has slightly bigger paper that they print on. With that little extra size in paper, they print your image a tiny bit bigger (3-5mm) and then trim off the excess.

Here is a demonstration of when there is no bleed and a page gets trimmed:

bleed printing and graphic design terms learn bleed printing and graphic design terms learn

See how there is a bit of white peeking through the bottom. Happens all the time. This is a two parter problem. One is that printers, while very accurate, are never 100% perfect ever print. And two, when the job got trimmed, they cut to the correct final size but there was no ink in that space. This was a problem with not having bleed.

Is this environmental?

There is actually nothing wrong with printing and using paper. There are sustainable forestry and recycled papers and soy-based inks which are very clean. The paper scraps do get recycled. But if you want to reduce labour time, reduce paper offcuts and that waste – you can always design and print in a way to not require a bleed.

Lakazdi often designs with the home and office printer in mind which are unable to do bleeds or borderless printing. The most easy option is just to keep everything about 8mm from the edges. This looks deliberate.

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Kassandra Bowers Marsh graphic designer brisbane Caboolture Australia digital nomad remote agency

Hi, I am Kassandra.

I am not only a qualified graphic designer but also a qualified early-childhood educator. I have spent years typesetting educational materials including thick textbooks. My clients are industry experts who now teach others. They use my skills to increase their audience and maximise the value of their content by improving the attractiveness and readability of all their resources.