Design DIY - #1 Bleed

August 24, 2018


Are you a start-up or small business?

Are you creating your own marketing materials?
Where do you begin!?

Over the coming weeks I will be exploring the basics of design - the jargon, where to begin and how to create great materials on a small budget and know-how.

Welcome to Design DIY #1
Many small businesses and start-ups will approach their own design work to create marketing materials to promote their business. 


These days we are rather privileged as there are a variety of free apps and software that you can use to create great marketing materials. However, you will require a certain amount of know-how when sending your great designs to a professional print company.

Just this week I came across a small business owner asking questions about Bleed. What is it? Why do we need to add it to our designs? Why do printers insist we have it on our print ready documents?


In this guide I will explain what “bleed” is and why it is required. I will also explain how to add bleed to a design and will explain examples of designs without a correct bleed area and solutions for how to correct them.


What Is Bleed and Why Is It Required?
When sending your completed designs E.g. leaflets, off to the printers, they will request that your final page size has bleed added. This is because a commercial printing press cannot print to the edge of a sheet of paper. Instead multiple products E.g. leaflets are printed on much larger sheets and then cut down to size.

When your designs continue to the edge of a sheet of paper, bleed is required.
It is impossible to cut exactly to the edge of your design so a little over print on each side is required. This overprint is called “bleed”. Any document that is being professionally printed will require a bleed area and also a safe zone.

PLEASE NOTE:  bleed is only required if your design runs to the edge of your document. If your design falls within 6mm from the edge of your page, bleed is not necessary.


How Much Bleed Do I Need?
The industry standard is to have 3mm of bleed on each edge of your document and a 3mm safe zone on the inside. This means that the length of each side will be 6mm longer. For example an A4 sheet when lined up correctly with bleed will be 216mm x 303mm. It will then be cut down to its finished size of 210mm x 297mm.
I have provided a table at the end of this article which contains the correct dimensions of most standard documents lined up with a bleed area.


What Is the Safe Zone?
The safe zone is the 3mm inside of the trim edge of your document in which no text or important information should be placed.
Any graphics in this area risks being clipped when cutting. 


In the diagram below you will see that the background graphic extends to the edge of the 3mm bleed area. A safe zone has been created between any text, logo or important information and the trim line. 



Examples of Common Mistakes

  1. No Bleed Area or White Bleed Area: If your document has no bleed, your final trimmed product may have random white lines along the  edges as printing and cutting tolerances cannot be compensated for.
    Solution - extend the image into the bleed area or move your image in by 3mm to allow for a bleed area. Don't forget that any text, logo or important information should be moved in by 6mm to also allow for a safe zone.


  2. Text Is in the Bleed Area and Safe Zone: The document has a bleed area and safe zone however there is text inside the bleed area and safe zone. If cut as is text outside safe zone is likely to be cut off.
    Solution - move the text inward by 6mm. (3mm for bleed area + 3mm for safezone).

  3. Text Is in the Safe Zone: The document has a bleed area and safe zone however there is text inside the safe zone. If printed “as is” the text in the safe zone could be cut off or clipped. 
    Solution – Move text inward by 3mm.

  4. The Bleed Area Is a Different Colour to the Edge of the Design: The document has a bleed area however it is not a continuation of the background design, instead it is a lime green. If printed as is there are likely to be random green lines on edges of the finished product. Solution – Make the bleed area a continuation of the background design.

  5. Object Touching the Trim Line Does Not Extend to the Edge of the Bleed: The document has an image that touches the trim line but does not extend the extra 3mm into your bleed area, if printed as is there could be random lines along the edge of you final printed product. 
    Solution – Either extend the image to the edge of the bleed area or move the image so it’s edge sits within the safe zone.


I Am Unable to Correct My Document?

If you are unable to correct your document you have two options.

  1. Print with a border – a professional print company will able to print your document with a 6mm white border (or any colour you prefer). They use 6mm is to ensure even borders on each edge.

  2. Have your design professionally rebuilt – a professional graphic designer would be able to recreate your design / create a new design for you with a correct bleed area and safe zone. Let me know if you need help in any way - I can be reached on


Document Sizes and Resolutions Including Bleed
The sizes provided below are based on printing a portrait document at 300 dots per inch which will print at high quality.















Hopefully, after reading through this guide, you'll have a much better idea on how to design your marketing materials so that they can easily be exported and professionally printed.


I will be covering other aspects of design so please follow my blog to see if there is anything else I might touch base on that will help you create great materials to help your business thrive.

If you have any questions or you have a topic in particular that you would like me to cover, please do not hesitate to send me an email on


Chat soon

Tam x

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August 24, 2018

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©2018 By Tam Goldsmith   |   07891 075969   |    Stockbridge, Hampshire

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