Quick Summary:

  • Please include 5mm bleed to your artwork files.
  • When exporting as a PDF from Illustrator, make sure bleed is included.

Printers don’t print to the edge of the paper, so if you want a print where the image/artwork goes to the edge of the paper, we need to print on a slightly larger sheet and then trim off the border  area around the edge.

With very small degrees of natural movement in the print and cutting processes, it’s virtually impossible to cut the border off without leaving some of the white un-printed area or, alternatively, cutting the actual image.

This is why we need ‘bleed’.

In the example above, the artwork on the left has 5mm bleed, where the colour extends beyond the trim line. This will result in a great finish where the colour is printed right to the edge.

The artwork on the right only has colour extended to the trim line. This will likely result in a lower quality edge and possible a white border around your finished artwork.

Here's how to get it right.

Add bleed when you create your artwork file.

This best way to make sure your artwork is print ready from day 1 is to add bleed when you first create it.

You can do this in Illustrator in your file setup as shown below:

Adding bleed after you've created your artwork file.

Never fear! if you've done the work but forgot to add bleed, you can still add it.

In Illustrator simply click on the "Document Setup" button then add the 5mm bleed in the fields provided. See below

Exporting your PDF with bleed

When it comes time to export your final artwork as a PDF, make sure you include bleed. To do this:

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. In the file type field select PDF
  3. The PDF export window will appear
  4. Click on the Marks & Bleed tab
  5. Make sure the "Use Document Bleed Settings" checkbox is ticked