If you have ever designed a page or name card before, you would have noticed the term called Bleed. Or if you have ever sent a project to be printed, printing companies like us would require you to set ‘Bleed’ margins in your designs.

So, what is bleed?

Bleed is a standard that goes beyond the size of the paper. We usually set a boundary of around 3mm outside of the paper. Which means that if you are printing an A4 size paper at 21.0 x 29.7cm, your bleed inclusive of both top, bottom, left and right will amount to 21.6 x 30.3cm.

Why do you need a bleed margin?

Printing is not done in a consistent, straight line for every piece of paper. That is due to mechanical inconsistencies in the printing machine, the angle the paper was fed into the machine and even the irregularities of papers! Not just that, these are printed on bigger sized papers and they will be cut and resized accordingly. This means they will require some room for error as after printing, it is very hard to pinpoint the exact edge of your design. If you do not account for bleed in your margins, you might be able to find thin slips of white lining at the corners due to the irregular cut of the paper, that will not look nice at all!

Inks do bleed and they create a smeared, diffused pattern which is definitely unwanted. For bleed margins, what we are doing is to intentionally get the ink to be ‘smeared’ into a wider area, creating a uniform margin to account for errors. There is definitely no blood involved!

Now that you understand more about bleed, how do you set them up on your design templates?

For Adobe Photoshop

  1. Open Adobe Photoshop and click File (New)
  2. Input the FULL BLEED number at 3cm on the vertical and horizontal axis.

For Adobe Illustrator

  1. Open Adobe Illustrator and click File (New)
  2. Input the TRIM number at 3cm in the Width and Height boxes

Adobe InDesign

  1. Open Adobe InDesign and click File (New Document)
  2. Under Page Size, input the TRIM dimensions for the top, bottom, left and right bleed

You will be able to see the bleed margins after this and do remember to place your pictures up to the bleed margin. However, relevant words and images should still be within the edges of the pages as the 3mm will most likely be cut off. You do not want your words to be so near the edge or corner of the book as it will not look neat and tidy. It should preferably be 5mm away from the edge of the page. If it on the inner side of the page, you might want to place them even further as the binding of the book may reduce accessibility to the page.


Now you know how the design and printing world works!

What is bleed in printing or design terms?