So you want to know how to make full bleed print files

So you want to know how to make full bleed print files

Here at York Print Company, we see a lot of files that are not suitable for print for one reason or another.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to show you how to make perfect design files in Microsoft Word. You really need to be using a design program. This post is aimed to help people with basic design skills. Read on if you want some tips on how to make full bleed print files like a pro.

When you have learned how to make the files feel free to order from our online store.

What’s the best file format for your print files?

Forget just about every other type of file, make it PDF. This is not a definite, but most printers will ask for a Print ready PDF


What is Bleed?

It is very hard to explain in words but very easy to show in a video (watch this space).

Basically bleed is the area that is trimmed to create the finished printed product; this trimming allows for colour or images to bleed off the edge of the page.

Believe it or not your £40 home printer can print full bleed. Just think of a 4×6 photo, you select print to the edge in the printer driver and the photo comes out with no white border. Professional digital and lithographic printing presses cannot manage this same feat, so the printed items have to be guillotined from a larger sheet to achieve that “right to the edge” full bleed effect.

Full bleed explained


The Quiet Area

This relates to the area around the outskirts of your artwork, in an ideal world you don’t want any text or crucial design elements in this area. Try to keep 5mm between the trim line and the areas where the text will be placed in your artwork. Again it’s hard to explain easily but the images show how to set up text so that it does not end up being to close (or worse) to the edges of your final printed materials.


Making Print-ready files with trim marks


You may or may not have seen trim marks but one thing certain, they are needed to allow accurate cutting. If you leave them off your artwork, the file will be compromised as the guillotine has to have these marks to show the exact pace cut/trim.

So how do you add the trim marks? Well, every program is different but usually, there is a process where you can add these marks when you save the file (the marks are not added manually it’s an automated process). A good design program like Adobe Indesign/Illustrator has a configuration panel that lets you specify the settings needed when making the final PDF document (see figure below).

PDF file format

Get your text in the right position

Notice that the key line on the red box disappears in the PDF, this is because it will effectively be trimmed away when the guillotine cuts on the trim marks provided by the print ready PDF file above.

Common UK standards and good practice for your making PDF files:

If you have the option to save the type of PDF, choose PDF X1a – this keeps the file size manageable and works well on a lot of commercial print equipment.

The amount of bleed. This can vary between UK printers so it’s best to ask but a common or good amount is 3mm.

File names, make everyone’s life easier and give your files descriptive names. Two separate files named ”Trifold leaflet front” and “Trifold leaflet inner” is better than one file including two pages just named leaflet

CMYK or RGB – they don’t doth print alike. We print using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. What looks good in RGB on your monitor might not transfer quite as well into CMYK colour process.

That my friend is how to make full-bleed print files and last but not least, if you have a doubts or a query, pick the phone up and speak to us.

John Maughan owner of York Print Company is a print specialist based in York, UK. John and his team work in close partnership with their clients, helping them to get value for money plus a quality print product combined with great customer service. See what we are getting up to on our Facebook page and follow us on for tips and great special offers on TWITTER @yorkprint.