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Understanding Bleed and Safe Printing Areas

For best results and quicker service please follow the instructions outlined in this document.
We will use a 24" x 18" yard sign in this example.

First, let's get an understanding of a few vocabulary words.

Bleed Area This is the area in which you place colors and backgrounds that you want to bleed to the edge of your document. The bleed area is shown in red in the image below.

Understanding Cut Line and Bleed Area when sending files to commercial Printers

Wikipedia defines bleed as the following:

Bleed is a printing term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet before trimming. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. The bleed is the part on the side of a document that gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper, and design inconsistencies. Artwork and background colors can extend into the bleed area. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document.

It is very difficult to print exactly to the edge of a sheet of paper/card so, to achieve this, it is necessary to print a slightly larger area than is needed and then trim the paper/card down to the required finished size. Images, background images and fills which are intended to extend to the edge of the page must be extended beyond the trim line to give a bleed.

For the reasons stated above, we recommend that you add 1/8 of an inch to each side of your document.

24" x 18" Yard Sign = 24.25" x 18.25" Design.
The final product you receive will be cut/trimmed down to 24x18.


Cut Line This line is where the final product will be cut.

Warning Area No text or important images should be placed in this area. Since there is some variance in the printing and cutting process you should never place text in this region. There is no guarantee that objects in this area will be cut but it is advised to stay away from it.

Safe Area To be safe, place the main components of your design in this area. This region is 1/8 of an inch inside the cut line depicted by the white area in the image above.

Yard Sign Example

In the Yard Sign above we have exaggerated the dashed lines for demonstration purposes. Notice how we have placed all text within the safe area boundary but the blue and red color extends to the edge. It's okay to extend the blue and the red as they were intended to bleed to the edge of the final product. The blue stars are within the safe area because the yard sign would look awkward if a point of the star got trimmed off.

What could happen if you design outside of the printing safe area Take note of the image to the right. This is what could happen if you put text and important objects outside of the safe area. Honestly, we would never let this ship out but you get the point.

Please remember you're not alone! You can always email us at support@printmeadows.com or give us a call.