Borders on Artwork
Considering bleeds and borders, first start designing with a minimum safety margin of .125″. If you add a border to your artwork, however, it is essential that your safety margin instead be .25″ to maintain border consistency on all sides. Border thickness is important because if it is too thin, the border may look uneven after cutting, but the thicker the border the better the results. Cutting tolerance is .0625″. For smaller pieces, the shift in cutting tolerance will be more likely and more noticeable.

What is a Bleed?

A bleed is printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet after trimming. It is part of the background that will be trimmed off after the file is printed and cut down to the finished size. As such, the bleed is an area where the document image is extended from one side of the paper to another without critical information in it.

If a bleed is not included in document setup, there is a good chance that there will be a gap between the edge of the printed area and the cut line. This will leave a sliver of the paper color to show. This happens because there is a tolerance when cutting the printed piece.

Cutting Tolerance
Cutting tolerance is the slight variations that occur when online printing projects are cut down to size. Our cutting tolerance is 1/16″, which means the trim line can vary by up to that much. Anything that comes within 1/16” of the edge of the cut line could potentially be cut off. Text or other elements that you want to ensure are not trimmed away must be placed more than 1/16” away from the expected edge of the design.

Bleeds and Crop Marks


The RED line is the bleed line.
The Black line is the Cut line.
The Pink line is the safety line.





Bleed Line – content that goes “off the page” extend to this line and will be trimmed off allowing for full bleed images. *If you need content to be full bleed then you will need to pull that content out to this line.

Cut Line – this is the actual physical edge of the page and your book. This is where we will cut.

Margin – important information should be inside this line.


Correct Document Setup

Below is an example of a document that is set up correctly, and none of the important information will be trimmed off. The image goes to the edge of the bleed and all the text is positioned in the safety margin.

The bleed on this business card document is .125″. The edge of the document is shown with the black outline (do not include this in your actual file). There is a safety margin shown in pink. This is .125″ from the inside edge of the document. It is important that there is no information outside the safety margin. The red line is the bleed line.


Incorrect Document Setup

This example is not set up correctly. The image does not go to the edge of the bleed and therefore there might be a blank line on the edge of the printed piece. Text is going into the bleed area which will cause it to be trimmed off and unreadable. It is crucial that important information stays inside of the safety margin.


Bleed Size – Set Up

We will use InDesign specifically in our example, however, it is very easy to set up bleeds in the other Adobe software. Bleeds of 1/8” are required on anything small like business cards, brochures or saddle stitch booklets.


 Bleed Setup in InDesign



Optional: InDesign defaults to picas. If you type in “.125in” (the “in” for inches is very important), it will calculate that measurement in picas. If you would prefer to work in inches, another solution is to go to Preferences > General > Units & Increments. In the Ruler Units block, the Horizontal and Vertical should have the Inches option selected.