Understanding Bleed: A Crucial Element in Artwork Preparation for Print

In the realm of printing, precision is paramount. Every detail matters, from the colours chosen to the dimensions specified. However, there’s one often-overlooked aspect that can make or break the final product: bleed. For those unfamiliar with the term, bleed refers to the extra area of a design that extends beyond the final trim size. While it might seem like a small detail, mastering bleed is crucial for ensuring professional-quality prints, particularly in the UK where printing standards are exacting.

At Dynamic Print, we understand the importance of bleed in the printing process, along with the confusion it can sometimes create. As a leading printing service provider in the UK, we’re here to shed light on this vital aspect of artwork preparation.

What is Bleed, and Why Does It Matter?

Imagine you’re designing a set of hot foiled wedding stationery. You meticulously craft the layout, select vibrant colours, and add eye-catching images. However, when the invitation is printed and trimmed to its final size, you notice that some of the graphics don’t extend to the edge as intended. This is where bleed comes into play.

Bleed acts as a buffer zone for ensuring that the design extends all the way to the edge of the printed page, leaving no unsightly borders of the material being printed on. It provides a safety margin for variations that can occur during the printing and trimming process. Without sufficient bleed, even the slightest misalignment could result in an undesirable border around your design, detracting from its overall impact.

How Much Bleed is Needed?

In the UK printing industry, the standard bleed requirement is typically 3mm (or 1/8 inch) on all sides of the document. This ensures that there’s enough overlap between adjacent designs and provides ample room for trimming variations. While some printers may accept less bleed, adhering to the 3mm guideline minimises the risk of any unwanted borders appearing on your final prints.

Tips for Preparing Artwork with Bleed

Now that we understand the importance of bleed, let’s explore some essential tips for preparing artwork files for printing:

1. Extend your design beyond the trim edge: Ensure that all images, background colours, and other design elements extend at least 3mm beyond the final trim size. This extra area will be trimmed off during the finishing process.

2. Use design software with bleed settings: Most professional design software, such as Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, allow you to specify bleed settings when creating a new document. Set the bleed area to 3mm to ensure that your design meets printing requirements.

3. Save your file correctly: When saving your artwork file, be sure to include the bleed area. For example, if your final trim size is A4 (210 x 297mm), your document size including bleed would be 216 x 303mm. Export the file in PDF format with bleed settings intact.

4. Check your printer’s guidelines: Different printing companies may have specific bleed requirements or file setup guidelines. Always consult your printer’s specifications to ensure your artwork meets their standards.


In the world of printing, attention to detail is everything. Understanding and implementing bleed in your artwork files is essential for achieving professional-quality prints without unsightly white, or substrate coloured, borders. By following the guidelines outlined above and working with a trusted printing partner like Dynamic Print, you can ensure that your designs make a lasting and positive impression.

If in doubt, contact us and we can help and advise you how to prepare your print ready .pdf artwork files.

For all your printing needs in the UK, remember to keep bleed in mind – it’s the key to flawless prints every time.