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.


  • 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


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


  • Subset fonts when percent of characters used is less than 0%
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Why don’t my PMS colors look right on my proof?

If you have ever received a contract color proof from your printer and checked the PMS colors, they didn’t match the PMS Color Book. But they should, right? It’s the contract proof you need to sign-off on for the press operator to run your job. What are they going to do about printing the right PMS color!

We are a G7 Certified Printer, which means we use a color profile on our proofs and presses, so the CMYK colors will match from the contract proof to press. But PMS colors won’t and here is why.

PMS 2012PMS colors are special mixes of colors that are defined by Pantone. These colors are not made up of cyan, magenta, yellow or black. As you know, only in rare instances can you print a PMS color in CMYK and have it match the actual PMS color.

The same is true for our proofs. Proofs print on an inkjet printer using CMYK ink. So, the proofer has the same limitation as a conventional or digital press. They just can’t re-produce every PMS color. Digital presses and the proofers are a little better at it, but only because they could have other colors like Light Cyan or Light Magenta loaded. This gives them a larger color gamut than a conventional CMYK press. But even then, the color still won’t match the PMS swatch book.

So when we send you a contract proof and ask you to check it for color, we are referring to the CMYK colors. Do check to make sure your PMS Blue is blue and not green, that could be an issue. If you are concerned that the PMS color must be right to match corporate branding guidelines. We encourage you to attend a press check. That means you can are on premise as we run your job and you can use the PMS Book to check that the PMS ink is being run at the proper densities and producing the proper color. You can work with the press operator to make sure everything is spot on!

Plus, if you have never been to a press check, we encourage you to do so.

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