Bleed is a printing term that refers to the area to be trimmed off in order for the artwork or background to extend to the edge. Because machines cannot print all the way to edge of a piece of paper, the digital file is set up so that the artwork or background is extended beyond where the paper will be. So artwork is printed on paper that is larger than the final size of the piece than trimmed down. It also gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper.

Let’s say you need a 5” x 7” postcard. You should prepare the digital file a little larger by 0.25” so the document size will be 5.25” x 7.25”. BUT there is an important thing to remember and that is margins or text safe area.

A text safe area is the area inside of the margins where all the text and important graphics go. It is usually 0.125” inside of 5” x 7” so text and important graphics should not be placed on or beyond the 0.125” mark. This is very important because important information is at risk of being cut off.

Here is an example break down:
Final size or trim size: 5” x 7”
Bleed: 5.25” x 7.25”
Text safe area (text and important graphics shouldn’t go beyond): 4.75” x 6.75”

There are many options to go about achieving this.
1) RMS Printing is more than happy to work with you to design a piece. It is important to provide artwork and photos larger than the final size of your artwork. So if it’s a 5” x 7” postcard, the artwork or photo should be 5.25” x 7.25” or larger.

2) Hire a graphic designer.

If you don’t have access to professional design programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign, there are free alternatives like Scribus (free, InDesign substitute), CorelDraw ($119, Illustrator substitute) or GIMP (free, Photoshop substitute). Use the rulers and guides to set up trim, bleed and text safe areas. We highly discourage using Word for full bleed postcards or projects.

Do you have a question about printing? Contact us!