Understanding Crop Marks & Bleed
Crop marks are a set of lines printed just outside of the corners of your document or artwork to show where to cut or trim the sheet to its final size. They will not appear on the finished piece. Presses and digital printers cannot print all the way to the edge the sheet; therefore if any graphic elements extend to the edge of the finished piece, you must design them to continue beyond the edge of the page including an extra border area to accommodate some trim. A piece that “bleeds” is always printed on larger sheet of paper and then trimmed to its finished size.
Bleed is a printing term that refers to this extended area of your artwork that goes beyond its actual, finished size. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document. The measurement for the bleed area is 1/8” to ¼”.
There are two types of bleeds. A full-bleed means that all four edges of your document extend to the edge of the paper. It “bleeds” off the edge with no white margin. A partial bleed means that only some edges of your document will bleed. The measurement for the bleed is 1/8” to ¼”. This is the extra area trimmed or cut off the page to make sure that the document bleeds.
You can save yourself time – and additional prepress charges – by correctly preparing your artwork with crop marks and bleeds. If you have questions about setting up crops and bleeds, please consult the “Help” section of your page layout program. If you are unable to prepare your artwork with proper crop marks and bleeds we can usually do so for a minimal charge.
On the diagram above, the red line indicates the final size of the piece. The black lines are the crop marks, indicating where the cuts should be made. The blue line indicates where the bleed should extend beyond the edges of the piece.