What Is Bleed In Print Advertising?

What Is Bleed In Print Advertising?

Bleed is simply an instruction of the printer to go beyond the edges of the paper or other material to limit the presence of white lines.

What Is Bleed In Print Advertising?

Welcome to the world of print. Now that you have crafted a visually appealing product, whether it is pamphlets, photos, or a sign, you are going to want to guarantee that the final product looks perfect the first time around. Knowing to how to get that involves learning a few key concepts, such as “bleed.” When paper is run through the printer, it is grabbed by the edge, meaning that no printer can automatically print directly to the end of the sheet. Furthermore, since printing is processed at a rapid speed, printing to the edge might cause misalignment, and that can be catastrophe.

To overcome this problem, bleed margins were introduced. Understanding how to use bleed will help you get a finished product that you love while keeping it professional and polished.

What Is Bleed?

Simply put, bleed is a technique that is used in the design world. Bleed is short for the process known as “full bleed printing” that lets a printer to make the design slightly large than the actual size of the paper to reduce any white around the border before the product is cut. When printing is complete, the design is always trimmed down to the desired size.

Bleed is essential for any design that has a colored image or background that reaches to the edges of the sign or product. Having the image be slightly larger than the end product corrects any trimming issues or distortions that could occur.

Though there is no industry standard for setting a bleed margin and even printers can vary, many designers will use a 0.25 inch margin. The 0.25 inch area is sometimes referred to as the “bleed allowance,” an area that the image can extend beyond the printed region.

Why Should You Use Bleed?

Let’s go through some hypothetical examples of why bleed is important in design. Let’s say you have a pamphlet and forget to set the bleed margin. The final product will print out with a white line around the edge of the paper rather than having the color of the brochure background running right up to the end. Another example would be business cards that have a background. If you don’t set bleed, any color or object that runs off the end of the card will be cut off by a white border. In either example, the end result would be sub-par and could potentially affect the reputation or perceived quality of whatever it is you are trying to promote.

Although bleed is not necessary, it is a smart way to get the results you want the first time around. If you want a professional looking product, then bleed is the way to go. Many designers will add bleed to the design at no extra cost, but you are always welcome to add it yourself or ask for it if bleed hasn’t been applied.

Are Print and Crop Marks Related To Bleed?

In the software that you use, you might see something called “show print marks.” Print marks are simply anything that helps the printer understand what you want printed, including color bars, crop marks, and bleed. None of the markings will appear on the final product. The only markings you might seen are places that designate points for grommets, screws, or other items that need to be added once the product has finished printing. These is especially true for signs.

How Can I Add Bleed To A Design?

If you want to add bleed to a document or design, you need to calculate the bleed margin based on the surface area of the page. As mentioned before, the bleed allowance is a minimum of 0.25 inches, but even that can cause a white line. Designers generally like to set the bleed area to around 0.125 inches all around the design. This means that if you have a standard sheet of 11×8.5 paper, you would want the final print size to be 11.125×8.625 inches.

Other example measurements for appropriate bleed include:

  • Business cards. Original size is 2.3×2 inches, so the bleed size would be 2.425×2.125 inches.
  • Postcards. Original size = 4×6 inches; bleed size = 4.215×6.125 inches.

Note: If you are using the metric system, you can convert the measurements by dividing the centimeters by 2.54 for inches. Want to switch to centimeters? Then multiply the inches measurements by 2.54 instead.

Adding Bleed In Programs

Most design programs like Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Canva, and Krita will allow for you to set up bleed. Not all programs are the same. Here are some basic instructions for popular design applications.

Photoshop and Illustrator

Since both programs are similar in set up, the directions don’t differ very much.

  • In a new document, you will need to first open the document and set the resolution (dpi) to 300 pixels/inch.
  • Choose the dimensions. Add 0.5” to the length and width. Remember, if you want an 11×8 inch document to have bleed, it needs to be around 11.5×8.5 inches.
  • Set the dimensions then set the guide tool to 0.25 inches around the document to show where the bleed would be.
  • Create your design with bleed in mind.
  • Save the document and send it to your design team or prepare for printing.

The directions for an existing document are almost the same as above, but instead of setting up the document’s resolution and dimensions, you would use rulers and drag lines to set up the bleed. Once that is done, go to the canvas size option in “Images” and alter the size to reflect the bleed allowance.


For a new document, you click on “bleed and slug” to set the bleed measurements then check the sizing by clicking ‘preview.’

For an existing document, you can go to “Document Setup” in the File tab. You will see bleed options under “more options.” From there, you can change the bleed size.

No matter what program you are using, you should always save the work as a PDF. That ensures the bleed is visible to the printer and helps with quality.


Hopefully, you now what what bleed is and why it is important. Bleed is simply an instruction of the printer to go beyond the edges of the paper or other material to limit the presence of white lines. This gives the end result a crisp, clean, and professional feel.

If you still have questions about bleed or would like more information about printing materials or signs, let us know! Fill out the contact form to get more news delivered to your inbox. We are more than happy to help you with all your printing needs.