top of page

What is bleed and how does it make a file print ready?

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

You’re likely to have already put your heart and soul into creating your artwork - surely asking for blood is a step too far? The request may give you the shivers, but fear not as we’re here to take you through the surprisingly simple steps of getting your artwork print ready.

Posters showcasing professional edge to edge printing
Edge to edge printing - a sign of quality print and design

Adding bleed to a document is to extend the artwork (background colour, images etc) past the edges of the page so it’s slightly larger than your finished print size - ideally 3mm on each side. This excess is cut away during the finishing process and gives you edge to edge printing - an indicator of a professional print and great design!

What happens without bleed?

At Minuteman Press Cambridge, our aim is to ensure you get the most from your print order, which is why we are so often banging on about bleed! We want your print to be as you intended and without any nasty surprises.

When documents are supplied without bleed i.e. at their finished printed size of A4/A3/A2 etc, we have 2 options:

1. Scale up your file so that it fills the bleed margins - the edges of your design will be trimmed off.

2. Scale down your file to include a white border.

Illustration to show printing options when supplied file does not include bleed
Print options when document is supplied without bleed

But why?

It is not possible to print to the edge of a page. However, unlike a domestic printer, we are able to use oversized paper stocks which enable full page coverage with no outer edge white borders. We then trim the artwork to its final size using a digital guillotine (accurate to within 0.1 mm).

Despite the accuracy of the trimming process, we do need to tolerate a degree of movement as the paper moves through the printer - this is where the requirement for 3mm bleed comes in. The extended artwork guarantees that all background colours/images fill the final print (should that be the intended design) - surely not much to ask from a machine which delivers top quality prints at lightning speed!

But I want a border!

That's absolutely fine. If you're including a border in your design, whether it be white or coloured, we would recommend that it be at least 5mm wide (+3mm bleed if coloured) to allow for movement in the printer - too skinny and your print risks looking wonky!

What else should I consider?

We would always recommend taking into account the 'safe zone' when you're designing - this area, which sits inside of the bleed, should be clear of any crucial elements such as text, images or logos. It is ensure that none of this important information is lost or affected in the trimming process.

Ideally this safe zone, or quiet border, should be 5mm (3mm minimum) from the trimmed edge of your artwork. Any less and you risk your design losing its edge as it is literally trimmed off by the guillotine.

Print ready file explained
Detail of print ready file
NB Magenta colouring is for illustrative purpose only, and is not part of the final print

This is all getting a bit too much...

Don't worry, if you're getting into a bit of a fix following the above, we can always scale up your design to achieve edge to edge printing. Just bear this in mind when designing, and ensure that there is a significant quiet border, i.e. an area which you'd happily see trimmed off.

If we receive a file which is set up at, for example A4 (210 x 297mm), we can simply enlarge it be say, 105% and voilà! we have a print file with bleed. All we ask is that it is supplied as a PDF - this is the easiest way to ensure you have a quality print.

Our experienced team have a wealth of knowledge to share and are always more than happy to share it. We're passionate about print are on-hand to make sure you get the most from your order, give us a call or an e-mail and we'll bring your print ideas to life.

Units 11 & 12 Orwell House

Orwell Furlong



83 views0 comments


bottom of page