Full bleed versus no bleed printing

Same image side by side on black background. Once image has a white border (no full bleed) and the other prints to the edge of the page (full bleed)

Last updated on May 23rd, 2023 at 03:03 pm

“No bleed” printing is the printing you’re used to

Your desktop printer at home can do “no bleed” printing perfectly fine. When it prints a standard sheet of 8.5×11” sheet of paper, it leaves a thin white margin around the files.

Then we come to the crux of the full bleed issue: what happens if you want to print to the edge? What happens if you want the background of your design to extend all the way to the edge?

Your desktop printer at home can’t print it. Neither can the slightly larger printer you have at work. You think: “maybe printing companies have a special printer that can print edge-to-edge”.

Nope! Printing companies actually use a special technique so that their customer’s products have printing all the way to the edge of the sheet.

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So what’s the difference between full bleed versus no bleed printing?

Full bleed printing doesn’t technically require any special equipment. It’s a “trick” that has been long-used by printing companies to achieve a printing effect popular with customers. To produce a full bleed 8.5” x 11” color copy, the digital file needs have the background extended to 8.75” x 11.25”. Once printed, a guillotine cutter will cut off .125” from each side of the color copy to the final dimension. This way the final product has printing to the edge of the sheet!

You are able to request for your file to print “no full bleed”, so that your file contains .2” white border on all 4 sides. This is the ideal choice when important content is getting cut off and you are not able to fix your file.

.2” white border is added on all 4 sides when no full bleed printing is ordered.
.2” white border is added on all 4 sides when no full bleed printing is ordered.

Some products, like color copies, mini posters, and Wire Bound Book Printing, let you choose if your product should be printed with or without full bleed. Because full bleed printing requires larger sheets and more labor, the price is more expensive that no full bleed printing. If you are looking to save money, no full bleed printing might be able to keep you within your budget!

When should I choose full bleed printing?

If your design has a white background, then you do not need to choose full bleed printing. Choose full bleed printing whenever you need the design to extend to the edge of the sheet.

Your file will always need to be designed properly for full bleed printing. Otherwise important content from your file run the risk of getting cut off. If you are unsure if you designed your file properly, submit a complimentary file check to Printivity and we’ll let you know if there are any issues!

For those who haven’t started designing your file yet, Printivity offers templates for all products! Remember that postcards, brochures, and most book options come with complimentary full bleed printing.

Contact our customer service department at 1-877-649-5463 if you still have questions about full bleed printing. We’re here to help!


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