File Preparation / bleeds

Who wants to talk about file preparation…specifically bleeds? Let’s talk.

The internet is full of quality information on preparing files for printing. But, we understand that it’s very difficult to decipher all the information just to find the one little piece of information you need before you release your files to the printer. I’m going to address bleed issues that repeat often (everyday) in our prepress department. Usually, by the time the printer gets the file there is just not enough time remaining in the schedule for us to go back and forth with the designer to get all the issues resolved. So, sometimes a job is compromised and that, we know, keeps printers and designers up at night.

Bleeds. Some of you may be asking, what is bleed and why does a printer need it? Here’s an example:

When you open a document that you intend to design, you will need to create it in the actual size you want the finished piece to be. Let’s say you want to work on a 8.5 x 11 data sheet. Great, open the design document to that size. Let’s say you want to place a blue banner across the top 2″ where the color will fill the entire 2″ and across the 8.5″ dimension. Okay, but do you know that you need to pull that color out .125″ on each edge of the document for printer bleed? Why? Well, we guillotine cut press sheets and there is no one, or no piece of equipment can hit the edge precisely, so we require the color to extend beyond the final size so when we final trim the piece it has ink coverage all the way to the edge. (no white paper showing)

What if you have a photograph that you want to use to fill the entire sheet? If you open a photo box and place the picture, you should open the entire file so the picture will be 8.75 x 11.25. This allows a .125″ bleed at the top, bottom, left and right side. Often we see photos that are specifically set up with type fitting around specific areas in the photo. But, if the photo wasn’t set up to allow for bleed, the printer then has to make a decision to either not allow enough bleed (which causes problems down the production line) or to enlarge the photo to allow for the bleed and possibly mess up the designers intention. Nobody wins and nobody is happy.

We’re starting to see a lot of files uploaded in PDF form. This is terrific if printing standards have been followed…specifically bleeds. In a PDF format we are often unable to go into the file to edit for any reason.
Here’s what our prepress department suggests concerning bleeds for Print Ready PDFs:

File size: Set document paper height and width to actual Quark or InDesign trim size plus 1″, include registration, with bleed set .125″ (.25″ if job mounts or laminates.) Set the offset for the marks to an amount great than the bleed (ie. .25″.)

PS: If you need help call us…we’re here for you. We’ll even answer the telephone.


1 thought on “File Preparation / bleeds

  1. Amen, Sister!
    Be sure to let them know that “it’s not against the rules” to extend the art past the document line when creating the bleed. It is amazing how many people I have talked to who did not know you could do that.
    If they are working in InDesign or Illustrator, creating PDF’s are a snap! Very easy parameters.
    and when in doubt… by all means call us!

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