A bleed is required when a document has printed content like photographs, blocks of color, or other design elements that go to or touch the edge of the sheet. Commercial printing presses, whether offset or digital, cannot print to the edge of the sheet. Therefore, the document must be printed on a larger “press sheet” and trimmed down to its’ final size. For example, if you have a final document size of 8.5 x 11, and it has bleeds, the press sheet size might be 9” x 11.5”. These press sheets are cut several hundred sheets at a time in stacks that are 2-3 inches thick. Because slight shifting can occur during the trimming process, printers require this additional bleed area to compensate during final trim. If not for the additional bleed area, you might see slight thin areas of white paper showing on your final trimmed document.
At Katon Printing, we require an 1/8th of an inch for bleed on all four sides of the sheet. Any content that touches the edge of the sheet must be extended out 1/8th of an inch past the final trim size in the document file.
Professional page layout software like Adobe InDesign and Quark Xpress allow you to define the bleed area of your in the document set-up menu and layout properties respectively. Please feel to reach out if you need assistance properly preparing your files for print.