Setting up your file with the proper bleed

Bleed is something the everyday printer finds themselves explaining on nearly a daily basis. Don’t worry – it’s not a safety issue that needs addressed. It’s a print production issue, and there’s a lot you can do to ensure your document is set up for it.


Bleed refers to the area of a design, including colors, images and design elements, that extend beyond the trim line of any given page. This prevents any undesirable white lines, or margins, from appearing on the edge of your page after cutting.

In the print world, it is very common for us to receive files that do not include this bleed area, but have images or design elements that run right up to the edge of the sheet. By not adding the bleed, your final product may have a small white margin that appears along the edge of the piece due to shifting while cutting, bounce during production and more. The added image area gives the trimmer breathing room to ensure the white margin does not appear and your final product is of the best quality.

ScreenShot090To fix your files, you simply have to account for your bleed area while designing. Software like InDesign or Quark can account for the bleed right from the New Document setup.

In InDesign, you may need to select “More Options” from the buttons on the upper right side of the New Document screen. To adjust your bleed – simply type in the desired amount you need to account for. At Metropolitan, we prefer a minimum of .125″ all the way around the printed piece.

If you tend to send PDF files to your printer for production, there’s a very quick way to check and make sure your final file has bleed before you send it off. If you open the PDF in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, dimensions will display if you mouse over the bottom left hand corner of the display window. If you are a using .125″ bleed, your document should always display a dimension that is .25″ larger than the final trim size. I.E. a letter should measure 8.75″ x 11.25″.

ScreenShot091To make sure that you have your PDF settings set up correctly, select the Marks and Bleeds tab from the PDF Export settings box. Ensure that “Bleed Marks” is selected and that you either have “Use Document Bleed Settings” or type in the .125″ bleed setting to include this area in your PDF.

If for some reason, you are unable to add the bleed (perhaps a photo doesn’t have the space to allow you to place it along the edge without chopping off an important element of the photo), we may inquire about “short-trimming” the project to ensure the small white border does not appear.

If you’re unsure that you have your bleed set up properly, feel free to
email us
and we’d be happy to help out! Happy Printing!


One thought on “Setting up your file with the proper bleed

  1. Pingback: The Prepress Checklist | Metropolitan

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