What are Bleed, Trim, Margin and Crop Lines?

How to set up print ready artwork for a professionalprinter.

Have you ever sent your finished file to a Printer who's come back to tell you that your file
doesn't have Bleed?

 

Did you wonder "What is bleed?"

Or perhaps you just want to know how to set up a print ready design file for a professional printer?

In the below guide we walk you through what Bleed, Trim, Margins and Crop Marks are and how to set up Print-Ready artwork using the most common design too, Adobe InDesign.

Please note that as we go through this guide, we are referring to the standard and most common practices for Printcrafts pre-press and production processes. You may find other printers have different requirements and in rare some cases, we may request a file set up different to normal. But for the most part, below is a good general guide to setting up Print-Ready design files for commercial printers. 

This image shows Print Ready Artwork with bleed, trim and margins but without the guides to show where these are located.
This image shows Print Ready Artwork with crop, trim, margin and bleed lines shown over the image as guides.

What's the difference between standard design artwork and print-ready?

The two images show above display a print ready InDesign file. On the left is the Print-Ready design file without any printers markings and on the right is the same file with guides over-layed to show you where Crop, Trim, Margin and Bleed are on the page. 

Notice that the background elements bleed to the very edge of the page (Green BLEED Line) but all of the text and core page elements like the title, price, bullet points etc. all stay neatly within the safe page margin (Purple MARGIN Line) 

After this page is printed in sections (See our blog on sections) the page will be trimmed along the page edge (Red TRIM Line) Crop Marks are small lines in each corner, (Orange CROP Line) in line with the page trim to guide our guillotines or Stitch and Trimmers where to trim the page. 

What happens if you submit artwork that is not Print Ready?

IMG_5176.jpg

So, to summarise what defines Print-Ready artwork, the design file should ...

  • 5mm Bleed
  • Core page elements within the Safe Margin 
  • Crop Marks to Indicate where the Page is to be Trimmed
  • All images must already be converted to CMYK
 

What are Trim and Crop Marks and how do I set them up in InDesign?

This is a close up of an indesign document showing the TRIM line

The  Trim Line is a design guide representing the very edge of your page (the finished size) where you want your printer to trim to. 

Your image should bleed past this line to ensure no unprinted paper is visible on the edges of your design.

 

The trim line does not have to be visible in your Print-Ready Artwork but Crop Marks do.

Next: Crop Marks

Sheets of Printed Magazine pages (or sections) showing trim, crop and bleed.

What is  Margin 
and How Do I Set It Up in InDesign?

This is a close up of an image with bleed showing a line indicating the safe margin

Margin is not used by your Printer so doesn't need to be visible in your Print-Ready file. However, using document Margin is good practice to keep text and important content safely within the page edge and neatly aligned with other elements in your design.

Next: How to set up Margins in a NEW InDesign document

 
Sheets of printed magazine pages showing trim, crop and bleed

What is  Bleed and How Do I Set It Up in InDesign?

This is a closeup of a screenshot of an InDesign document showing the edge of the documents bleed

 Bleed  provides a buffer, typically 5mm beyond the page edge. This allows for a small margin of error when the printed sheet is trimmed down to the finished size. 

Ensuring your document has bleed prevents

unprinted paper (usually white) showing around the edges of your design.

 

Dragging your background images to the bleed line will ensure an edgeless, flawless print for a professional finish. 

Next: Bleed vs No Bleed