Designing for Print – Setting Up Crops and Bleed
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve just printed a beautiful new logo, poster, or other advertising material, and discovered that your printer has left white borders around the edges. It cheapens the appearance of the material, and even cuts parts off of your design!
Not all desktop printers can print to the edges of a page, which is why you end up with those white borders. The machine must leave space for the mechanical parts to do the printing. However, by adjusting the settings within your design software, you can get around this issue.
When you want your picture to extend to the very edges of your page, bleed marks are essential; in your design software, the bleed marks appear as a bright red border around the page. On the other hand, crop marks are the black lines used to indicate where you plan to trim the document once it’s printed.
Using these tools together allows you to design a document that isn’t cut off by a white border, and fits your desired parameters.
Want to know how to set this up? We’re going to share how to use print in the digital age with crop and bleed marks:
Even though crop and bleed marks are important, be sure not to compromise the quality of your design. You may need to adjust the parameters of your page to ensure your picture isn’t stretched too far.
Resolution refers to the number of pixels in each inch of your image—the more pixels per inch you have, the higher quality (or resolution) your image will be.
The danger of misusing bleed marks is that it may stretch your image too far. With a low-resolution image, your picture will be blurry and of poor quality.
Conversely, don’t boost the resolution beyond what your printer can handle. Doing so will increase the file size and potentially crash your computer. You’ll need to check the specifications of your machine to determine the maximum resolution that it can print.
Crops & Bleed
Common applications that are used to add crop and bleed marks include:
- Adobe InDesign or Illustrator
- Microsoft Publisher or Word
These are just a few examples. In these programs, you’ll need to find the settings for bleed and slug marks. These are typically located in the measurement or print settings, like File > Print or Save As.
You can add bleed marks when opening a new document, or after your design is completed.
Once the bleed marks are added, you’ll see a bright red border around the document. Simply drag your image to fit these parameters, and it should snap into place. Be sure that important elements aren’t past the bleed borders, or they’ll be cut off in the final design.
You might find that the crop marks are too large especially if you’re printing a small design. 5mm may work for larger designs, but you can customize the thickness of the crops to as small as 3mm if that is more suitable.
What Material Should You Print On?
Even after you’ve designed crop and bleed marks of your printed design, you’re left with another question: which material will work best?
That will depend on the type of printing machine you have access to, but here are a few common materials you can use to increase the shelf appeal of your design:
- White paper. Perfect for posters, indoor signs, and everyday memos, white paper is the most common printing material.
- Clear. Transparent film or plastic gives your design a desirable see-through look. If it’s placed on a window, it lets in natural light to illuminate the colours and text.
- Foils. Using this material creates a luxurious and sophisticated final product. Foil is reflective, which makes it more eye-catching to onlookers. This is especially effective for business cards.
By removing the white borders around your image, you’ll end up with a design that looks clean, deliberate, and professional. But this isn’t a job for just any printer—you may need to contact a professional to get it done right. If you’d like to upgrade your digital printing capabilities, get in touch with Arrow Systems today!