What is bleed?

Bleed is a term used in printing and design to describe the area that extends beyond the final size of a printed piece. It is an essential part of the printing process to ensure that the final product has a clean and professional appearance. Bleed is typically measured in inches or millimetres and is added to all sides of the design, usually around 3mm (20mm for PPC hardbacks).

The purpose of adding bleed is to account for minor inconsistencies and small movements during the cutting and trimming process. When a design is printed, it's printed on a larger sheet of paper or substrate, and then trimmed down to the final size. Adding bleed ensures that any slight misalignments or inconsistencies during trimming will not result in white or unprinted edges on the final product.

Examples of why it is important to add bleed to the design:

Professional appearance: Adding bleed helps maintain a clean and professional look to the final printed piece. It ensures that the design elements, such as images and colour backgrounds, reach the edge of the page without any white or unprinted borders.

Cutting and trimming inconsistencies: Printers are precise machines, but there may be slight variations in the cutting and trimming process. Bleed compensates for these variations, ensuring that the final product has a consistent appearance.

Full-colour printing: For full-colour printing, particularly with large solid areas of colour or images, it's essential to add bleed to avoid any visible white or unprinted edges that may result from the cutting and trimming process.

Image and layout flexibility: Adding bleed provides flexibility in the design process, as images and other elements can extend to the edge of the page without worrying about the consequences of imprecise trimming.

What could happen when bleed is not added to a design file:

White or unprinted edges: If the design does not include bleed, there's a risk that the final printed piece may have visible white or unprinted edges due to slight misalignments during the cutting process.

Inaccurate trimming: When bleed is not included, the trimming process may result in cutting through important design elements, which can negatively impact the overall appearance of the printed piece.

Costly reprints: If the final product has visible errors, such as white edges or misaligned images, it may need to be reprinted, resulting in additional costs and delays.

Unprofessional appearance: The absence of bleed can lead to a final product that appears unprofessional or poorly designed, which may negatively impact the perception of the brand or message it represents.

In summary, adding bleed to a design file is crucial for maintaining a professional appearance and avoiding potential issues during the printing process. It ensures that any inconsistencies in cutting and trimming are accounted for, resulting in a clean and polished final product.