Today I would like to talk about bleed. Don’t be afraid, there is no bleeding involved.

Bleed is an area, which is set up around the document. This extends the actual printed area. After printing the job will be cut to the correct format. If you want to print a color up to the edges nobody will be able to cut directly at the edge. So we establish a kind of safety zone for cutting. That’s our bleed.

I will show you how it looks like when setting it up.

Your application should be a graphic program like Quark Xpress, InDesign, Scribus, Illustrator, Corel Draw. Most of them offer automatical bleed. Using other programs, you just have to keep in mind, that you need a bigger area than actually desired.

I set up a business card in the German format 85 x 55 mm/3.35 x 2.16 in. That’s what I enter into InDesign. I have also calculated all mm measures in inch, which you can see in the pictures.

Margin will be 5 mm since it is a very small format.

Bleed is 3 mm. This is a common value for German printing shops. American printing shops like bleeds between 0.125 in to 0.25 in.

If you are insecure about how much bleed you will need, please ask your printer.

After clicking ok, InDesign will open a new document, just like this one below.

Black frame is the edge of my document.

Purple frame is the border of my margin. Everything inside is the area where you should set up text. Everything outside is margin.

The red line outside our document is the edge of the bleed.

Document is 85 x 55 mm

Margin 5 mm and bleed 3 mm.

3 to 5 mm is a good value for bleed.

This is a visualization of the text area.

Pictures and colorareas can be set up right into the margin or even into the bleed. But never do that with text.

Just think of the safety area. 3 mm bleed + 5 mm margin makes a wonderful safety area for text. No text will be harmed!

Format = margin + text area

Format + bleed

Finally I decided to create the business card of a fictitious company

Text on left side starts at margin. Color and picture is set up until the edge of the document. White area around is bleed. Grey is slug of InDesign.

Finally I set up color and picture into bleed. This is how you have to set it up for proper printing.

Finally I exported my bizcard with following presets.

If you use the bleed of the document it will be exported the way you have set it up.

Don’t forget to click crop marks, otherwise nobody will know where the original format starts.

This is how the PDF-file looks like. Grey marks the bleed.

The fine lines around the card are called crop marks, the other ones are bleed marks. That’s where the bleed is terminated.

Green line marks my format. That’s where the card should be cut.

Finally the finished business card.

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