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.
Full Bleed requires more paper so when it is trimmed, the graphics extend to the edge without leaving any white from the paper.
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 green lines are the trim lines used when the product is cut. If the graphics or background do not go over the edge, there is no bleed, the graphics must stay within the yellow border. If there is a full bleed, background or graphics are extended out to the red line, while text on the card is kept within the yellow line.