What Is Bleed In Printing? Standard Bleed Size Chart For Beginners
Have you ever printed a document only for it to end up with unsightly white strips on the edges? If yes, you probably are not alone. This is a common issue that happens if you fail to apply bleed in printing.
However, this issue mostly occurs if your image or element on a page touches the edge of your print paper. So, by applying bleed, you increase your image size beyond the edge for ease of trimming it to the right size.
But of course, you must use the right bleed size for the best quality print results. Speaking of bleed size, do you have an idea about how much bleed area you should leave for printing?
If you don’t, below we will talk about everything there is to know about bleeding in printing. So, read on.
What Is Bleed In Printing?
This is the additional space around the edge of your document where the sheet will be trimmed off. The space usually extends beyond the trim area of your printing document. Therefore, you can say that bleed is the area on your print document that needs to be trimmed off.
You see, when you are designing a document for printing, it can be hard to print exactly to the edge of any paper. So, the best thing you can do is print a slightly larger area than you need. Then, you can go ahead and trim your paper to your desired finished size.
Generally, bleeds vary across the world and from one print company to another. For example, in the U.S., bleeds are usually .125 (1/8) of an inch from where you plan to make the cut. But in Europe, you will find that the bleeds range from 2 to 5mm.
Why Is Bleed Important in Printing?
One of the main reasons why bleed is important is that it helps prevent the appearance of white lines. These lines usually appear on your document’s edges. You see, when printing, it is normal for your print paper to slightly shift. And as a result, your cutting machine may end up not trimming your print document accurately.
In this case, your print will have thin white lines at the very edge if you had not applied the bleed. Unfortunately, with the presence of the white lines, you will end up with an unprofessional-looking final product. The strips may create undesired effects with either text or background color on your document.
Therefore, you must always include a bleed every time you are designing all documents, including flyers, brochures, business cards, or leaflets. It will help you create stunning print products.
Additionally, bleeding is important when printing a book or a sheet that needs to be folded several times. Basically, when you fold the sheets, the inner pages tend to slightly shift to the right or left. Unfortunately, if there is no bleed, you will have a hard time moving the pages. Bleed allows you to extend the content on the sheets beyond the trimmed page size, thereby making it easy to move the pages freely.
Standard Bleed Size: How Much Bleed Should I Leave For Printing?
As we’ve already mentioned, bleeds vary from one country and print company to another. Some printers will even request specific sizes. But even with this, the standard bleed size is considered to be .125 inches on each side of your print paper. This is equivalent to 1/8 inch.
So, if you are designing a standard 4” X 6” postcard, your final template should be 4.125” by 6.125”. After your card is printed, 0.125” of your document is what will need to be trimmed off during the cutting process. This means that your final product will still measure 4” X 6”.
Now let’s take a look at some of the common document sizes, including their measurements with bleed in this table.
Size with .125” Bleed
3.5” X 2”
3.625” X 2.125
4” X 6”
4.125” X 6.125”
4.25” X 5.5”
4.375” X 5.625”
5” X 7”
5.125” X 7.125”
8” X 10”
8.125” X 10.125”
Standard letter paper
8.5” X 11”
8.625” X 11.125”
8.5” X 14”
8.625” X 14.125”
11” X 11”
11.125” X 11.125”
While most documents only need a bleed area of .125 inches, you might need to apply a larger bleed area for larger documents. In this case, your standard bleed size should be .5 inches.
A good example of a larger document is an A2 size print. Generally, an A2 size print paper measures around 16.54 X 23.39 inches. If you allow a .5-inch bleed area, your final document should be 17.04 X 23.89 inches.
Here is a simple table to help you understand better how to calculate the bleed size for larger documents.
Size with .5” Bleed
23.39” X 33.11”
23.89” X ”33.61
16.54” X 23.39”
17.04” X 23.89”
Extra large photo
18” X 24”
18.5” X 24.5”
16” X 20”
16.5” X 20”
What Does 3mm, 2mm Bleed Mean?
The common bleeds in Europe range from 2 to 5mm. Basically, with 3mm bleed, it means that you should apply 3mm of bleed around the edges of your print paper. Aside from that, you should also allow another 3mm safe zone on the inside of your document.
For example, if you are designing an A3 sheet, it should measure 303mm X 426mm with bleed. But once you trim off its edges, then you should end up with a 297mm X 420mm sheet.
When it comes to 2mm bleed, it simply means that you must add 2mm to your final print paper. So, if you want to print an A4 paper with a standard size of 210 X 297mm, your final document should be 212 X 299mm.
Do Printers Need Bleed Marks?
Yes, they do. It is the only way to ensure that your final document retains a professional look. The bleed marks simply help prevent the formation of white strips on the edges of your print paper once you trim it off.
What Does It Mean To Show Bleed On A Pdf?
With PDFs, you are required to add the bleed before you export your document. However, some popular design software may allow you to add the bleed once you create your PDF. That said, you must ensure that your PDF document contains a .125” bleed on all sides for the best print quality.
What Does Iso Full Bleed Mean?
It simply means that your print document or image will not have margins or borders by which most printers are limited. This is because the printed images and colors are supposed to extend all the way to the edge of your print paper.
Having said that, you must be careful when doing ISO full-bleed because some of the images may be lost. This may happen depending on the size of your print paper and the ratio of the image. Also, how aggressive you set your printer to do the printing will determine the quality of your final print.
Can Any Printer Print Full Bleed?
Yes. You don’t need any special kind of printer. Even a standard desktop printer will work for you. Nevertheless, if you are using a standard desktop printer, you need patience and steady hands when creating full bleed prints. Alternatively, if you would like to achieve higher quality print and cut in less time, it’s best to invest in a printer with a full bleed feature.
Overall, the best way for you to achieve quality and professional-looking print is by applying bleeds to your documents. Bleed in printing enables you to print your images or documents larger and then cut them down to your desired size. As a result, you prevent unsightly strips of white paper from showing on the edges of your print paper.
However, for the best results, you must use the right bleed size. Normally, you can use a .125” bleed, which is the standard size for most small to medium-size documents. But for bigger documents, we recommend you use a .5” bleed size for bigger documents.
But what happens if you want your images to extend all the way to the edge of the paper? In this case, you just apply ISO full-bleed, especially if you’re printing marketing materials like brochures and flyers.