Bleed is a printing term that describes a document that has graphics, images, colors, or elements that reach to the edge of the paper, leaving no surrounding margins. Full bleed layouts are printed on a larger sheet and then trimmed.
Understanding when this type of layout should be used and why it is used in the first place, can help you decide whether this layout type is right for your printing project.
What are Full Bleed Layouts?
Full bleed layouts are layouts that allow the image to continue past the edge of the finished page, so that there is no visible margin between the image and the edge of the page. The method is commonly used in magazines, business cards, and brochures. It has become more popular in other types of printed materials as well because of the visual effect that it has on the viewer.
When are these Layouts Used with Digital Printing?
This type of layout can be used with almost any digital printing order, but it must be carefully planned far in advance of the printing process starting. The bleed aspect of the layout must be included during the initial design phase and stay consistent throughout. You cannot decide at the last minute that you want to use this layout format; it must be planned from the start.
Give Yourself a Safety Margin
Full bleed layouts offer a safety margin, because the ink continues past the edge where the page will stop so there is a little wiggle room if an error or miscalculation is made. Nothing screams inexperience and unprofessional than printed marketing or business materials that have an unintended white edge or margin around them. Plan for full bleed to avoid this.
The safety line is usually at least 1/8″ away from the trim line to accommodate different cutting tolerances.
The Bleed Line Should be Outside the Trim Line
When full bleed layouts are created the bleed line always needs to end outside of the trim line. The trim line indicates where each page will be trimmed, and you want to ensure that the bleed continues past this line so that the image flows off the page.
Know the Paper Size and Shape Before the Design Process Starts
If you want to use full bleed layouts then one of the most important steps is to know the paper size and shape before you ever start to do any design work. This will help you calculate the live area, the trim line, and the bleed line effectively for your specific piece. If you are not sure on the paper shape or size then these factors are impossible to calculate.
What is the Live Area?
One aspect of full bleed layouts is the live area. This is the area which is known to be safe, and which will appear even if the printer is sloppy or the edges of the page are trimmed more than specified. This is the area where the main part of the image will appear and it should include every design element that you want to appear on the printed page or other printed item.
For example, if an ad’s trim size is 8.25 in × 10.25 in, the live area might be 7.75 in × 9.75 in.
Source: Ciara Panacchia
How Much Impact Will the Chosen Printer Have on the Final Quality?
If you do the necessary research, evaluation, and printer comparisons, then getting exceptional full bleed printing results is almost guaranteed. If you hire the first printer that you find, whether looking at all of the important factors, then you may end up regretting your decision when you receive the printed materials and they are not what you expected. Take the time to find the best printer possible.
How Much Space Should You Add for Bleed?
You should allow a minimum of ¼ inch to allow for full bleed, and even more if possible. The finished size of the item will also be a consideration in how much space you should allow so that you get the full bleed effect and you do not have to worry about any unintended margins or graphics interruptions. Failing to leave enough space for bleed will negate the benefits of this type of layout.
What advice on full bleed layouts can you offer?