Bleed Size


Print Bleed

What is Bleed in printing

Bleeding is the term in printing describing the ink being present all the way up to and continuing past the trim marks of the document. When a printed document is intended to show artwork to the edge of the trimmed sheet the printed artwork will most likely need to go beyond the trim marks to ensure anything being cut off as excess can be seen to have ink to the edge as intended. If the paper moves before cut, or for being printed unevenly

Example of proper bleed size added to document for printing

Why is Document bleed so important in Printing?

When presenting any printed product you want the attention to be on the information of the paper, when there are imperfections in the print the attention is drawn away from the real purpose of why your product was being created in the first place. Bleed eliminates one of these pesky hinderances by laying down enough ink past the trimmed edge so that the end result allows the design to be uniformly visible to the edge of your product. Without bleed you would only be able to print up to the limitations of the printing press.

Second, any printed product that folds or stitches will accumulate a small amount of vertical height because of the thickness of the paper. For any product to match the final size intended your files must have bleed beyond the page size to accommodate for the added height of the fold, or cover of your stitched booklet.  If you want all eyes to be focused on the design you intended, don’t forget that not designing for the end product in mind might leave you dissatisfied with your printed item.

Example of Printing without Bleed

Right edge paper showing where the design leaves off

Example of why you need bleed size in a document

What is a recommended bleed size?

The recommended bleed size for a professional printing is 1/8 inch, or .125”. This will accommodate for MOST of your printed products. REMEMBER, bleed needs to be present beyond any trimmed edge. This includes die lines where the print will cut off for unique design purposes with a letterpress or any other hole-punching machine. 

Setting up Bleed Sizes

Setting up Document sizes and bleed sizes are different with every software. We will go over the most popular software avenues to make sure you have the ability to check your documents before being sent in for printing to Disc Pro Graphics. We will go over Adobe Acrobat, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. There are pro’s and cons to each software for printing.

Setting up bleed size in Illustrator


Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool for creating print-ready designs, and setting up the correct bleed size is crucial for achieving professional results. Bleed is the extra margin around your document that allows for printing to the edges without leaving any unprinted edges due to slight shifts in the printing process.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Starting a New Document:
    • When you create a new document in Illustrator, click on ‘File’ and then ‘New’.
    • Enter the dimensions for your project in the ‘Width’ and ‘Height’ fields.
  2. Setting Up Bleed:
    • In the ‘New Document’ dialog box, locate the ‘Bleed’ settings, typically found right below the ‘Width’ and ‘Height’ options.
    • Enter 1/8 inch (0.125”) in the top, bottom, left, and right fields of the bleed settings. This is the standard bleed size recommended for most print projects.
  3. Design Considerations:
    • Ensure that any images or elements that need to extend to the very edge of your finished document reach into the bleed area.
    • Keep crucial text and graphics within the safe area, away from the edges of the bleed, to avoid them being trimmed off.
  4. Saving Your Document:
    • Once your design is complete, go to ‘File’ and then ‘Save As’.
    • Choose ‘Adobe PDF’ as your format. In the PDF dialog box, ensure that ‘Use Document Bleed Settings’ is checked under the ‘Marks and Bleeds’ tab.
  5. Final Check:
    • Before sending your document for printing, double-check the bleed area to ensure all necessary elements extend into this space.
    • It’s also a good practice to review the PDF version to confirm that the bleed has been correctly included.

Tips and Tricks

  • Consistency in Units: Ensure you set your document’s units to inches for ease of use and consistency, especially if you’re working on projects with standard U.S. print sizes.
  • Previewing Bleed: Use Illustrator’s ‘Preview Mode’ to see how your design will look with the bleed included. This helps in visualizing the final print.
  • Collaborating with Printers: Always communicate with your printing service to confirm their specific bleed requirements, as some projects may require different settings.

Illustrator New Document

Setting up Bleed Size in Adobe Illustrator Screenshot

Setting up document / Trim sizes in InDesign

Adobe InDesign is a favored tool for creating print layouts, and correctly setting up bleed is vital for professional printing. Bleed in InDesign allows for content to extend beyond the final trim size, ensuring no unprinted edges appear due to minor shifts during the printing process.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Initiating a New Document:
  • Open Adobe InDesign and select ‘File’ > ‘New’ > ‘Document’.
  • Set your desired ‘Width’ and ‘Height’ for the document.
  1. Configuring Bleed:
    • In the ‘New Document’ window, expand the ‘Bleed and Slug’ section at the bottom of the dialog box.
    • Enter 0.125 inches (1/8 inch) in the fields for ‘Top’, ‘Bottom’, ‘Inside’, and ‘Outside’. This measurement is the standard bleed size for most printing needs.
  2. Designing with Bleed:
    • Ensure that any design elements intended to reach the edge of your printed material extend into the bleed area.
    • Keep vital text and key graphics well within the safe margins to prevent them from being trimmed.
  3. Saving and Exporting:
    • After completing your design, choose ‘File’ > ‘Export’.
    • Select ‘Adobe PDF (Print)’ as the format. In the export dialog box, under the ‘Marks and Bleeds’ section, ensure ‘Use Document Bleed Settings’ is checked.
  4. Final Review:
    • Before sending your document to print, review the bleed settings and the layout to ensure everything is correctly aligned.
    • Preview the PDF to confirm that the bleed settings are properly applied.

Tips for Effectiveness

  • Consistent Units: Set your document units to inches for uniformity, particularly for standard print sizes.
  • Bleed Preview: Utilize InDesign’s bleed view feature to see how your design will look with the bleed area included.
  • Communication with Printers: Always check with your printer for any specific bleed requirements they might have, as some projects could require different bleed sizes.

InDesign New Document

Setting up Bleed Size in InDesign

Checking document / Trim sizes in Acrobat Pro DC

In Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, setting up a bleed box is an essential step for ensuring your document is print-ready, especially after it has been designed in other software. The bleed box defines the region to which the contents of the page should be clipped when output in a production environment.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Opening Your PDF Document:

    • Open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.
    • Navigate to ‘File’ > ‘Open’ and select the document you want to modify.
  2. Accessing the Print Production Tools:

    • Go to the ‘Tools’ panel on the right side.
    • Scroll down and click on ‘Print Production’. If it’s not visible, click on the ‘More Tools’ option to locate it.
  3. Setting the Bleed Box:

    • In the ‘Print Production’ tools, select ‘Set Page Boxes’.
    • This opens a new dialog box where you can set the dimensions of your bleed box.
  4. Configuring Bleed Settings:

    • In the ‘Set Page Boxes’ dialog, select the ‘Bleed Box’ option.
    • Manually enter the values for the bleed. A standard bleed is typically 0.125 inches (1/8 inch) beyond the final trim size on all sides. Adjust the values of the bleed box accordingly.
  5. Applying to All Pages:

    • If your document has multiple pages and you want to apply the same bleed box settings to all pages, ensure you select ‘Apply to All’ before confirming your settings.
  6. Saving Your Changes:

    • After setting the bleed box, click ‘OK’ to apply the changes.
    • Save your document by going to ‘File’ > ‘Save’ or ‘File’ > ‘Save As’ if you wish to create a new file.

Additional Tips

  • Double-Check Dimensions: Always recheck the bleed dimensions to ensure they align with the requirements of your print job.
  • Preview and Test: Use Acrobat’s preview features to visualize how the bleed will appear in the final print. It’s also advisable to print a test page if possible.

Acrobat Pro DC

New Document

Set Page Boxes in Adobe Acrobat DC Pro

Bleed Box

Setting bleed size in Acrobat DC Pro

Setting up document / Trim sizes in Photoshop

In Adobe Photoshop, creating a document with the correct size, including bleed, is essential for print-ready designs. Unlike vector-based software, Photoshop doesn’t have a dedicated tool for adding bleed, so the document size must be set to include the bleed area from the start. For a standard business card, the total document size will be 3.75 x 2.25 inches to accommodate a 1/8 inch bleed on each side.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Creating a New Document:

    • Open Photoshop and go to ‘File’ > ‘New’.
    • In the ‘New Document’ dialog box, set the width to 3.75 inches and the height to 2.25 inches. This includes an extra 0.125 inches on each side for bleed.
  2. Setting Resolution and Color Mode:

    • For printing purposes, set the resolution to 300 pixels per inch (PPI).
    • Choose ‘CMYK Color’ from the ‘Color Mode’ dropdown for print compatibility.
  3. Designing with Bleed in Mind:

    • As you design, remember that the outer 0.125 inches on each side is the bleed area. Extend any background colors or images into this area.
    • Keep all critical text and graphics within a safe margin, ideally about 0.25 inches from the edge of the document size (3.5 x 2 inches).
  4. Using Guides for Accuracy:

    • It’s helpful to set guides to mark the actual size of the business card (3.5 x 2 inches) within your document.
    • Go to ‘View’ > ‘New Guide’, and set horizontal and vertical guides at 0.125 inches from each edge.
  5. Saving Your File:

    • After completing your design, save your file as a PSD for future editing.
    • For printing, save a copy as a PDF. Go to ‘File’ > ‘Save As’ and choose ‘Photoshop PDF’. Ensure all layers are flattened before saving.
  6. Final Check Before Printing:

    • Review your design to ensure that all crucial elements are within the safe area and that the bleed area is properly filled.
    • If possible, print a test copy to check how the design looks when trimmed to the final size.

Additional Tips

  • Layer Organization: Keep your layers organized, with background layers extending into the bleed area and text layers safely within the safe zone.
  • Communicate with Your Printer: Confirm the bleed requirements with your printer, as some may have different specifications.

Photoshop New Document

InDesign Document Size New Document Setup Instructions

More Detailed Guide on Bleed and Document Size Relation

Bleed is a crucial concept in the printing industry, especially when preparing documents for professional printing. Essentially, bleed refers to the area that extends beyond the trim edge of a printed piece. This extra space is typically filled with background colors, images, or design elements that you want to extend to the very edge of the finished document.

The bleed area is important because it accounts for any minor shifts that occur during the printing process. When sheets of paper are printed in bulk, there can be slight movements or misalignments. If your document does not include bleed – that is, if the design stops exactly at the trim edge – these minor shifts can result in unsightly white edges in the final product. By extending the design into the bleed area, you ensure that any misalignment does not affect the aesthetics of the printed piece.

Importance of Bleed:

Incorporating bleed into your document layout is essential for achieving professional-quality prints. It is particularly important for any design that extends to the edge of the paper. This includes:

  • Full-Color Backgrounds: When your design has a colored background that reaches the edge of the page, bleed ensures that the color extends all the way to the edge after trimming.

  • Images: If your design features images that touch the edges of your document, adding bleed prevents the risk of having white borders around these images in the final print.

  • Decorative Borders: For designs with decorative elements or borders that run to the edge, bleed is necessary to maintain the integrity of the design after the trimming process.

Prepress Checklist

Disc Pro Graphics is proud to provide the best quality printing experience in Houston, TX. We have went through the first important step to preparing your files for going to print.

The next step in your Prepress checklist

The next step in this process is making sure you have Color ready for Printing… C,M,Y,K.