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Paper Sizes - Bleeds
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BLEED, this is the area of artwork that is extended beyond the actual dimensions of the document. It is used to avoid strips of white paper showing on the edges of your print should the batch be misaligned when cut to size.
Any objects in your artwork that touch the edges of the document require bleed, for instance a background colour or image should spread to cover the entire bleed area as should any objects that that print to the edge of the page.
 
bleed1

 

In the UK at least, bleed of 3mm is commonly required. This 3mm accounts for each of the four sides of the page, therefore you should add 6mm to the width and height of the document, for example:bleed2
 
A4 Paper = 210mm x 297mm
210mm + 6mm = 216mm
297mm + 6mm = 303mm
Total Document Size = 216mm x 303mm
 

In addition to bleed, you should also add a margin to the edges of the document to avoid having your objects look as if they are about to fall of the page or even worse actually get cropped off when the document is trimmed! The amount of margin is personal preference, usually used depending on the size of the overall design. This equates to the Heads and Backs in book production.

bleed3

 
Remember, it is the responsibility of the graphic designer—not the printer—to build a bleed into a document. If you do not supply documents with proper bleeds, it is well within your printer's rights to either charge you to fix the file, or reject the file and return it to you to fix.
 
How to Create a Print PDF with Bleed
To ensure high-quality printing and avoid extra file service charges, your final PDF page size MUST contain a 3mm bleed on all sides, be cropped to exact bleed size and be of print quality. Follow these tips for creating a proper PDF with bleeds. Many of you already know how to create a print-ready PDF. Creating a printable PDF that bleeds however can be a different story. The simple guidelines below will help to create a bleedable PDF so you’ll never have a problem with bleeds again. Instructions for PDFing your document can vary, so we’ve include the most popular design software instructions below.
INDESIGN: If you are working in InDesign, it is simple enough to add a 3mm bleed. If starting a new document make sure all your options are showing by clicking the “more options” button. Look for Bleed and Slug at the bottom of the menu. In the bleed section type in 3mm in the Top, Bottom, Inside and Outside selections. If you already created your document it is easy to go back to your document settings and add the bleed. Just go to File / Document Settings and look for the Bleed and Slug options. Again if they are not showing, just click the “More Options” button. Once your file is complete, go to File / Print. Select Adobe PDF as your printer. Change the following settings:
Setup – Page size should be set to custom, page position should be set to centered.
Marks and Bleeds – The ONLY things that should be selected here is “Use document bleed settings”
Output – No Color Conversion
Click on the setup button at the bottom of this window to update your adobe PDF settings. Click OK to continue and then select your Adobe PDF printer. Click the preferences button. Default settings should be set to High-Quality or Print. Click ok and then print. To save this setting for future use, click the “save preset” button at the bottom of the window and call it “Print PDF”. This preset will work with any bleed or non-bleed print document. Click PRINT to create your final print PDF complete with bleeds.
QUARKXPRESS: Quark works a little different in that your bleed is added when you create your PDF and not when you create your document. Once your document is designed, go to File / Print. Select Adobe PDF as your printer. Click on the bleed tab and select “Symmetric” under Bleed Type. Amount should be set at 3mm. Before hitting the Print button, click on the “Properties” button to adjust your PDF settings. Increase your page size to accommodate the bleed. If your version allows you to add a custom page, enter your page size plus 3mm to width and height. If your version does not allow custom page sizes, select a page size that is larger than your original trim size. Default settings should be set to High-Quality or Print. Click the Layout tab and ensure your orientation is correct. Click the advanced button and also make sure your page size is consistent with your bleed selection. Click OK and then PRINT. Refer to the OVERSIZE PDF instructions below to crop your document to it’s proper size. Another way to create your files in Quark is to create your original document at bleed size, which means that you can create a margin of -3mm on 4 sides. Just be conscious of your margins.
OTHER: Other software such as Microsoft Word does not allow you to enlarge your document size for bleeds. What you can do to work around this issue is to request that your PDF be printed at (102%. for word documents). Allow enough of a margin to accommodate your trim size as well. Always request a print proof to review your final product. Always test check your final PDF. If you see white space, your bleed is not correct.