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Bleed, Trim and Safety Margin Explained

Following these easy tips that will ensure your work is printed and finished exactly the way you envisioned!

Setting Up Your File Correctly

Bleeds or bleed margins are the areas on all sides of your work that extend at least one eighth of an inch (.125) past the trim line to give your finished product a borderless appearance. If there are no bleeds, your finished piece will have a white border on all sides.

Trim refers to the edge of the paper and represents the finished size after cutting. For example; a 4X6 post card will be cut to 4 inches by 6 inches.

Safe Area, or Safety Margin refers to the zone inside the trim where you'll want to place text, graphics and/or photos that you don't want to cut off. Safety margins vary depending upon the size of the finished piece. Generally speaking, the larger the piece, the larger your margin should be. We recommend a minimum of a quarter (.25) to three eights (.375) of an inch on all sides. Your most important elements should reside even further inside the safety area- this is often referred to as a "live" area. The more room, the better!

Exporting Your File

When exporting your file as a PDF before sending to print, it's important that you export it with crop marks and bleed settings. Most printers cannot accept print ready artwork without this and you wouldn't want them to because your finished piece would not only be the incorrect size, it would also be disproportionate. Below is a correctly exported file with crop marks.

Your Finished Piece

If you have exported your file correctly, your finished work should like this. Compare the edges of the photo below with the one just above and you'll see the difference between what is visible around the edges and where your text will be located. Perfect!


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