What is Bleed?

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Ink that goes all the way to the edge of the paper is called “bleed”. This means that the printer is going to request bleed to be included on all four sides of your document.

The most common way printers achieve this result is to print on a larger sheet of paper than needed and trim it down to size. If your artwork is the exact size of the finished piece, it’s possible that a slight shift while trimming will result in a white edge on the final piece. Bleed is artwork that extends past the trim line of the document.

Generally, an additional 0.125” (1/8 inch) of artwork on each side of the piece is plenty to account for any slight shift in trimming.

For example, if you’re printing an 8.5” x 11” sheet that has artwork that runs off the edges of the page, your final artwork should be 8.75” x 11.25” to account for the additional 0.125” bleed on each edge.

Depending on the program you use to create your artwork, there are different ways to setup your document for bleed.

How to add bleed to a document

 Adobe InDesign


  1. Click File > New > Document
  2. Enter the TRIM SIZE of your document
  3. Enter 0.125” in all four of the spaces under Bleed


  1. Click File > Document Setup
  2. In the pop-up window, near the bottom, there should be a section called “Bleed & Slug”
  3. Enter 0.125 in in all four of the spaces under Bleed


  1. Click File > Export
  2. Set Format to PDF and click Save
  3. In the pop-up window, there is a menu on the left. Go to Marks and Bleed.
  4. Check the box that says “Crop Marks”, set your Offset to 0.125” and check the box that says “Use Document Bleed Settings”.

 Adobe Photoshop


  1. Click File > New
  2. Enter the FULL BLEED dimensions (= height + 0.25” and width + 0.25”). This will allow an additional 0.125” around each edge of the document.
  3. Set Resolution to 300 dpi
  4. Set Color Mode to CMYK
  5. If it helps you, once your document is created, you can create guides 0.125” from each edge to visualize your trim lines.


  1. Create a new document with the FULL BLEED dimensions.
  2. Create guides 0.125” from each edge of the new document.
  3. Put the new document side-by-side with your original document.
  4. Select all layers in your layers pallet, and drag them into your new document.
  5. Use the guides to center your artwork in the document.
  6. Pull any artwork that should run off the edge of the page out to fill the bleed area.

Adobe Illustrator


  1. Click File > New
  2. Enter the TRIM SIZE of your document
  3. Enter 0.125” in all four of the spaces under Bleed


  1. Click File > Document Setup
  2. Enter 0.125” in each space under Bleed


  1. Click File > Save As
  2. Set Format to PDF and click Save.
  3. In the pop-up window, there is a menu on the left. Go to Marks and Bleed.
  4. Check the box that says “Trim Marks” and set the Offset to 0.125”
  5. Check the box that says “Use Document Bleed Settings”.



Posted in News

An easy renewal is a completed renewal


As one of Indianapolis’ largest performing arts organizations, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is always looking for the most effective ways to fill the more than 900 seats between their two stages across multiple performances. Providing an easy way for season subscribers to renew their seats is a great way to fill seats, and the IRT uses Printing Partners’ variable data technology to do just that.

Starting a little more than six months ahead of the season’s first performance, the IRT begins with early bird subscription renewals before the upcoming season’s titles have been announced. The IRT sends personalized letters to each of its subscribers offering the best deal available on pricing with a sneak peak of a few of the titles for the new season. The key to the success of this mailing is how the IRT uses the information they know about their subscribers to customize the letter for each patron to make it both personal and easy to respond.

The IRT supplies Printing Partners with artwork that includes notations of where variable information is to be inserted. The variable information is provided as an excel document with each row containing the data for each subscriber. Printing Partners then generates a unique set of pieces for each subscriber using the data within the Excel document to create the mailing.

Here’s a breakdown of the different pieces within the mailing:

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Outer EnvelopeLetter Pg 1 for article

As the recipient sorts their mail, the outer envelope immediately lets them know what it is, who it’s from, and how long they have to respond. The design ­— although simple — is very effective in that the most weight is put on the call-to-action to draw the recipient’s eye and invoke immediacy.

Letter Front

The letter begins with the recipient’s address and name with salutation. The first couple paragraphs are common for all letters, but the following paragraph(s) change depending on what type of subscription the reader has. Some highlight special benefits that will be new in the upcoming season, others offer a subscription upgrade at a special price.

Letter BackLetter Pg 2 for article

The back of the letter is the order form. Variable data is used to complete the majority of the form, making it as easy as possible for the subscriber to renew. The data contains the subscriber’s name, account number, number of packages, pricing, and seat numbers. Including this data makes it so that all the subscriber needs to do to renew is check a box and complete their payment information.

In the case that the subscriber wants to modify their subscription, the options and pricing are clearly detailed in a way that allows the subscriber to make quick selections of their preferences.

Response Envelope

Once the form is completed, the next barrier to overcome is getting it back in the mail. The IRT supplied a business reply envelope to overcome this by making it so that not only does the subscriber have an envelope in-hand, but it’s already addressed and there’s no need for a stamp. The top left corner has a note “URGENT! Process Immediately”, which instructs the IRT to process the contents immediately – but it also reiterates to the subscriber that their response should be sent quickly.

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Another great tactic worth mentioning about this mailing is that the IRT provided multiple ways for the subscriber to renew their subscription. Aside from mailing in the form, a subscriber can also call, email, or visit in-person to renew their subscription.

This mailing is a great example of effective use of variable data printing. This concept can be easily translated to your mailings to create a personal and easy-response vehicle to meet your objectives.

Posted in News