Bleeding Files: Preparing Files for Print

Posted: September 21, 2018 by Anisha Wilson

Looking to print your own personal design? It is important to understand the correct way of saving and submitting a file, particularly if you would like to include a bleed (elements extending into the edge of the page) in your file. Check out these helpful tips for preparing and properly saving art before sending to your commercial printer so that the project can proceed as efficiently as possible, without delays or potentially added costs.


Definition of a Bleed on a Print Document

Bleed is a printing term that describes a document, which has images or elements that touch the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim edge and leaving no white margin. When a document has bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down.


Creating A Document With Bleeds

The method of adding bleeds to a document is slightly different depending on the program you're using. Please use the appropriate instructions below.

Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Publisher

Prepare the document at the size you want the final piece to be printed. Make sure all copy (wording) is at least 1/8” (0.125) away from the edge of the document. To make a bleed on a document, extend any color or images outside of the document edges by 1/8” (0.125). This will create a bleed. Please follow the directions below for creating a PDF with bleed for print.

Adobe Photoshop

Since Photoshop isn't a document layout program, you'll need to use a work-around for this. You will need to build your document larger than the final size and figure the bleed into the size of the document. For instance, if you want an 8.5 x 11 finished piece, you would have to make your document 8.75 x 11.25. Place anything you want to bleed off the page in that extra 1/8” on each side.  Remember, the 1/8” is bleed and you must set all copy at least ¼ from the edge of the document. Technically, the copy will only be 1/8" from the edge when it’s printed. It is imperative to inform the person printing your job that you created the file in photoshop and built the bleed into the document size.

Microsoft Word

You can’t have a document with bleeds, as this program was built for word processing and not for design.


Exporting or Saving as a Print-Ready PDF

When exporting or creating a pdf for print from such programs as InDesign, Illustrator, Publisher, or QuarkExpress, use these settings to be sure your PDF file is exported correctly.

If you want any images or color to bleed off the page (print to the edge of the paper) you must set-up your document to include bleeds. The bleed must be 1/8” (0.125).

Export setting in an Adobe program

  • Adobe PDF Preset is set to: Press Quality
  • Compatibility is set to: Acrobat 4 (PDf 1.3)
  • Compress Text and Line Art is set to: Off
  • Marks and Bleeds:
  • Check Crop marks
  • Bleeds: Clip at Bleed edges or use document bleed. (If you want any images or color to print right to the edge of document with no white showing on edges)
  • Save to create a PDF.

Mircosoft Word

Save as Adobe PDF. No option for bleed.

Microsoft Publisher

  • Export as PDF
  • Click options: choose "High quality printing" or "commercial press"
  • Click Printer options: make sure crop marks, allow bleed and bleed marks are checked
  • Click OK and then OK Again.

Adobe Photoshop

Please tell the printer that bleed is built into the size of the document.

  • Create a PDF, make sure you flatten your Photoshop document and save as a Photoshop PDF.
  • Adobe PDF Presets: Press Quality
  • Compatibility: Acrobat 4
  • Uncheck "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities"
  • Save as PDF.


Other Items to Consider When Creating Your Document For Print

  1. Are your images high resolution?  - at least 300 dpi and close to the size that you want to use it in your document or larger than you want to use it in your document.
  1. Is your document saved in CMYK Color format? - CYMK is the format you need to print.


If you have any further questions, please ask them in the comments below and we will be happy to answer them for you!

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