Print Bleed & Margins

This article explains how to set up artwork for print when using full bleed images. After explaining it to countless people over the years via email or over the phone, I thought I’d create this post to explain it visually.


The image above shows a full bleed image (image that goes right to the edge of the printed area when cut) – this is how the artwork will look before being trimmed (ignoring the green & pink dashed lines).

The green dashed line represents the crop line – where the artwork will be physically cut after printing. The pink dashed line represents the margin.

The area of the artwork outside the green line is the bleed area – so a part of the image needs to overlap the crop line to get a clean cut. This gives the printer a few millimetres either way to trim the artwork.

You will see that the text remains inside the margin area – this keeps any important information away from the crop marks, ensuring that you don’t lose any of this content when trimming the artwork.

Most commercial printing companies ask for about 3mm bleed on artwork supplied to them, and it is usually recommended to use at least 3mm for the margin area, so no important information is cut off. However, most modern printing companies are extremely accurate & could probably cope with just 1mm bleed… but it’s always best to have a bigger margin of error.

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