A common error in commercial printing

Commercial printing has its challenges due to the complexity and diversity of the jobs that are submitted. But whether the job was submitted by a professional or a novice, we tend to see one error more than any other. Lack of bleed on the document.

Sometimes it was just an over sight when the person made their PDF. But we often run into people not understanding why a printer needs bleed on the file. So, we are going to take a few moments to go over this.

Why a Printer needs bleed

We ask that you include bleed for our finishing operations. When we go to trim your piece to its final size, the cutter may slip as it cuts. If your art does not bleed and the cutter slips even a 1/64th of an inch, a white sliver will be left showing and it will stand out like a major error.

If your document has bleed and the cutter slips, then there is color to cover the slip, no white area will show.

The reason the cutter might slip is due to the number of sheets that get cut at one time. Depending on the quantity of your job, there could be 2-4 inches of paper to cut. Although the cutter can put literally tons of pressure on the paper to hold it in place, air is the problem. As the air between the sheets of paper gets squeezed out, the sheets can slip slightly. Thus causing the problem. The cutter operators do their best to watch for this, but even a slight movement by the paper can create the issue.

When there is insufficient bleed, we often must “shy trim” the piece. Meaning we cut inside the trim marks. This makes the overall size of the finished job smaller. While this can be a solution, if your text or other elements are close to the trim, it may put those elements at risk.

The best solution is to keep your important art and text at least an 1/8th of an inch away from the trim and to give us 1/8th of an inch of bleed. Then we will have no problems.

PDF Settings

A quick refresher on settings to create a high-resolution PDF.

Compression

  • High resolution files should have 300 pixels per inch for Color & Greyscale images.
  • Monochrome images should be 1200 pixels per inch.
  • Image Quality should always be set to “Maximum”.
  • Compressing Text and Line art is fine.

Marks and Bleed

  • Printer’s Marks
  • Crop Marks
  • Bleed Marks
  • Registration Marks (optional)
  • Offset: 0.167 in
  • Bleed: 0.125 in

Output

  • Color Conversion: None
  • Profile Inclusion Policy: Don’t Include Profiles (ask your printer, Printing Partners does not use these)

Advanced
Fonts

  • Subset fonts when percent of characters used is less than 0%
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