Full Bleed - What is it? And how do I design for it?
To design for full bleed, it is best to first clarify what full bleed is. We are often asked, "What is this?" and "Why do I need this?".
What is full bleed?
Full bleed is printing on the full surface of a sheet of paper. Consider how our production presses print. In order to print a document, these machines need a thin sliver of paper which the rollers use to grip the paper. In other words, if you submit an 8.5"x11" document which is entirely black, the final prints will still include a white margin on all four edges. So, in order to provide you a full bleed print, we need you to design a document which is wider and taller than the final print. We then trim part of the image from the top, bottom, left, and right edges to produce a full bleed print.
How do I design for full bleed?
To design for full bleed, there are two things to do: (1) bleeding your background past all four trim edges, and (2) providing safety margins for your foreground text and foreground images from the trim edges.
First, your background needs to stretch 1/8" past the trim lines on all four edges. The trim lines are the lines where we are going to trim your image. So, after we print your document on larger sheets of paper, we will trim 1/8" off all four edges. So, whether your document has a red header, a patterned background, or a background image, the background needs to extend 1/8" on each edge.
Second, we advise that you leave safety margins for your foreground elements from the trim line. The best way to explain the reasoning is to describe what happens if you do not. If you do not leave safety margins, by positioning important images or text right on the trim line, they are at risk of being trimmed off. We recommend positioning those important items an additional 1/8" from the trim line.
So what should my final full bleed file look like?
Your final document should be 1/4" wider and 1/4" taller than your finished print size. So, if you want a full bleed 8.5"x11" sheet, your final image size needs to be 8.75"x11.25". Postcards (4"x6") require files that are 4.25"x6.25". Only leave a white margin in your file if that edge does not have printing on the edge.
Can you print a partial full bleed?
We do not print partial full bleed, because any amount of full bleed requires printing on a larger sheet of paper.