Your beautiful new business cards arrived today. You love the design and the bright blue background. There’s only one problem; they’re all white on one edge. Whether you’re ordering a banner, business card, or vehicle graphics–if you’re supplying artwork that has a design that goes off the edge of the print, you should be thinking about bleed.

Cut to Size or Shape

After your artwork has been printed, normally there is extra blank material around the print that needs to be cut off. In order to ensure your project has full ink coverage from edge to edge and is finished to the desired dimension you require, the background of your design needs to be a little larger than your requested size to allow for small variances in the cutting process. Whether your project is being hand cut, guillotine cut, or cut on the router– it’s an imperfect process. Having bleed allows the print to be edge to edge, with no slivers of white from the blank material and no reduction of size. Here’s a graphic to explain.


Banners with Pockets and Pole Pockets

To reinforce vinyl banners, extra material is folded backwards and welded, taped, or sewn to the back of the banner around the edges. Bleed allows for the imperfections of the fold to prevent white material from showing on the face of the banner. Pole pockets are the same as regular pockets, except they are left open so a pole can be slid through.

A standard pocket with grommet shown on the left. Notice how the bleed shows on the back side? On the right is an example of a pole pocket

How much bleed you need to supply depends on the product, the printing process, and many other factors, so it’s important to discuss this with the art department of the printing company. Building bleed into your file is simple, but you should always consider it from the beginning to prevent any problems later.

TKO Tech Talk is a column written by Eric Benge, who has over 10 years experience in the design and print industries. Technology changes rapidly, the advice or information included in these articles is considered accurate and helpful as of the date they are posted online. If you have any questions, technology related or otherwise, please contact us.