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Live on the edge: Include a 1/8" bleed on your files to get a clean, professional look


About Bleed

What is Bleed?

Bleeds allow you to run artwork to the edge of a page. On a press, the artwork is printed on a large sheet of paper and then trimmed down to size. If you do not allow for a 1/8 of an inch bleed, any misalignment while cutting will result with the artwork not running to the edge of the paper. Bleeds ensure you get the results you need (see an example).

Build your files 1/8" larger than the final trim sizeFor example, if you have designed a standard 3.5" x 2" business card with a red background covering the whole area, you will need to enlarge that red background to 3.75" x 2.25". This will make the red background extend 1/8" on every side of the page.

Why is adding a Bleed necessary?

Small mechanical variations can end up leaving a hairline white edge where there should be no white edge at all, if the image is not extended beyond the final trim size. Extending images 1/8" beyond the final trim size guarantees that images truly will go all the way to the edge of the printed paper.

How do I add bleed to my design?

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign

1. Open Photoshop and click File > New...

2. Enter the FULL BLEED dimensions. That is, 1/4" extra both vertically and horizontally.

3. Set the Resolution at 300 pixels/inch

4. Set your Color Mode at CMYK

1. Open Illustrator and click File > New...

2. Enter the TRIM dimensions in the Width and Height boxes (for example, the trim dimension on a standard business card would be 3.5" x 2")

3. Enter 0.125 for the top, bottom, left and right bleed

4. Set your Color Mode at CMYK

5. Set your Raster Effects at High (300ppi)

1. Open InDesign and click File > New > Document...

2. Enter the TRIM dimensions under Page Size (for example, a standard business card would have trim dimensions of 3.5" x 2")

3. If you do not see "Bleed and Slug" at the bottom of the window, click the "More Options" button.

4. Enter 0.125 for the top, bottom, left and right bleed


For a more in-depth tutorial on how to set up your document to accomodate for bleed, see "Page Bleeds," an article from

Here is an example (not to scale) of how you should build your file.

The inner black outline is the 'trim line' and is 3.5" wide by 2" high. The red background extends beyond this trim line by 1/8" on each side and is 3.75" wide by 2.25" high.