There are few things more satisfying than bringing a digital creation to the physical world. When it comes to print, it is important to “begin with the end in mind.” Avoid last minuet formatting changes by understanding the finish size and bleed size before you go to the printer.

What is a bleed?

The bleed is an extension of the design beyond the finish size; it will be cut off during production. This process allows the design to reach the edge of the finish size. I generally set my bleed width to .125 inches. However, check with your printer to see what they use.

In the diagram below, I have depicted the bleed in gray.


This process is necessary because engineers have not yet developed a printer that can print all the way to the edge.



In order to print, we have to find a paper size that can accommodate:

  • The Finish Size – The final size of the project after it is cut. In the diagram above, it is the color portion of the file.
  • The Margin – There has to be a margin between the bleed and the edge of the paper.
  • The Gutter – If the printer sets up a page with multiple files, the gutter is the space between each document. This allows the production facility to cut the stacks evenly.

Because this piece of paper has to also be a standard size, it is going to be quite large. In the diagram shown below, I have shown how a printer may set up a letter (8.5 x 11 inch) sized file for print on an Arch B (18 x 24 inch) sheet.

Bleed 18x24

After the sheet is printed, production would cut it down to the finish size of 8.5 x 11 inches.

If you are printing something internationally, it is important to work with a local print shop to determine standard page size. Although there is an international standard, sizes may vary by country.

One thought on “Working with a Print Shop

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