Setting up Bleeds, Margins, and Crop Marks

Bleeds, Margins, and Crop Marks

What are crop marks, bleeds, and margins?

When we print, we almost never print to the final size of the piece. Instead, we print on a larger sheet of paper and then cut that larger sheet down into the final size.
This helps with increased quality and productivity, but it also means that we need files that will help produce the job for you.
Just like any other manufacturing process, there are variances from sheet to sheet in color and the placement of the print.
Setting up your margins and bleeds correctly help minimize these variances.

What happens if there's no bleed in my document?

Crop Marks are small lines that show how we will cut your document down to the final size.

Please note that if you’re not comfortable with crop marks, they are not necessary and we almost encourage you not to send them.
We can create crop marks very easily on our end.

Bleeds are non-critical background images that extend to the edge of the paper.

In order to avoid small white borders around your print, we typically ask for .125″ bleed.
For example, if your printed piece is 5x7″ final size, then your document size should be 5.25x7.25″ with the background elements extending all the way to the edge.

Margins, also known as a safe-zone, is where critical images and text should lie.

In order to ensure that critical images and text are not trimmed into, place them at least .125″ away from the edge of your final trim size.
This is also where we strongly discourage printing borders. If borders are important to your design, then place them at least .25″ away from the trim edge.
Borders typically will not look even on your final print due to the natural shifting of print from sheet to sheet.

How to set up your files correctly for crop marks, bleeds, and margins.


Our product template page has these guides built in.
When using the template, create a layer and name it “reference”, and then lock the layer so that you can build your artwork on top of it (on a separate layer).
When you’re ready to export your file, turn off the reference layer (the eye icon next to the name) and your file should be in great shape.

The Print Ready File

If you’ve designed your artwork off of the product templates, typically creating the PDF and sending that to works great.
The most critical elements in the file are bleeds and margins. Crop marks are not necessary – we can create them easily for you.

If you’re doing any type of layout, we are big fans of Adobe InDesign. If you use InDesign, we have a free export setting so that your PDFs are more likely to be print ready!

Click to download our PDF export presets.

It’s a bit tricky to install so check out the video below to help install it and how to use it.

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