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Creepy Tip #8 – Full bleed or no bleed, what is a bleed?

In this day and age, programs to create your own artwork for your printed products are plentiful. Almost everyone has access to them, and many times even on a website where you design and order your own product. When I get a phone call to print such things, I often get a very quiet and sudden drop in the conversation when I ask “is it full bleed?”.

So when it comes to printing business cards, post cards or even a booklet, what is a full bleed? What is no bleed?

A bleed, is when your graphic goes right to the edge of your product. There is no white paper between the graphic, and the edge. No bleed, means there is a margin of white around the edge.

pre-press-bleed bleed margin

The reason this piece of information is important when sourcing out printing services, it because a full bleed requires more paper, and more cuts to finish the product. It also means that if your artwork is set up wrong, it could get cut off in a very awkward place, ruining your product.

The following picture is an example of how your business cards may get cut. The black lines are the trim lines used when the product is cut. As you can see, there is a very big difference between full bleed and no bleed.


I always like to recommend checking if the printer you are going to be using, has a template you can use when setting up your artwork. This ensures that you meet their guidelines and end up with the product you are expecting. When you design the artwork on the template, it also ensures your layout fits the sizing. Standard sizing of business cards, is often business specific. even a smallest shift in some graphics can change the final look of the product.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? That is okay! You have an option open you you, hiring a professional. This doesn’t always have to be an expensive option, and often once you pay a set up fee, you are generally not charged that fee on exact re-orders. Just make sure you receive a “Prepress Proof” before your product goes to print, to ensure that you have communicated clearly what you would like in your product design. A prepress proof is a printout of the graphics, generally on the very same paper or vinyl that your finished product will be printed on, to ensure you are happy with the colour, quality, and that there are no errors or omissions in your graphics.

So if you choose to hire it out, ask about set up fees, re-prints, templates and do not be afraid of annoying the person on the other end of the phone. They would rather see you submit print ready artwork that is truly ready to print, than have it go to print and you are refusing the product in the end because it is not what you expected.

I create many, many business card designs, post cards, booklets and more and print them here in my studio. So if you would like a Graphic Designer such as myself to get your product designed and printed, please feel free to email me. I have a few kinds of shipping options available, all very affordable.

Graphic Designer with an Applied Degree from Medicine Hat College, Visual Communications Program.

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