Preparing files for output is a very important aspect of being a graphic artist. Our days aren’t always filled with playing with pretty images on pretty computers. We have to think ahead and plan out each design so there are no unexpected encounters that could lead to down-time or more expenses.
One important issue are “bleeds”. When we refer to bleeds, we mean the extra area that goes beyond the page size. Now, why does a printer need bleeds? Well, you have to take into consideration that when you cut a stack of papers with one swipe of the blade, that the stack will not be perfect and when you cut, there will be a few pages where it may be off by a little bit. So, if you have a colored pattern that goes right to the edge, the cutter must line up perfectly or you will have a white (or paper color) line that wasn’t trimmed off. To compensate for this, most places ask for an extra 1/8” of image that extends off the edge of the document for any “normal” sized projects, ie. business cards, letterhead etc. This gives the cutter a little more flexibility and increases the chances for a more complete design.
Most design programs allow you to keep the actual page size, but send to a printer (or PDF) while keeping a bleed in the document. You can specify your crop marks and then enter in your bleed area amount.
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