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A tiny detail can make all the difference in graphic design and printing. When you add bleed to the Illustrator program, it can make or break your project. Similarly, adding crop marks in illustrator software is essential for ensuring accurate trimming of the final printed products such as brochures, posters, and business cards. But why do you need to add bleed in the first place?

The answer lies in the printing process. The edges of your designs could look sloppy without Illustrator bleed lines. In this article, you will learn the significance of bleed and how to add it to Illustrator software. In addition, you will learn how to add bleed and crop marks using a PDF editor for seamless printing. All right, let us get started!

bleed and crop marks example
In this article
    1. Adobe Illustrator Bleed Lines
    2. Partial Bleed Vs. Full Bleed in Illustrator
    3. Crop Marks in Illustrator
    1. How To Add Bleed in Illustrator for Your Layout
  1. Wondershare PDFelement - Professional PDF Editor to Add Bleed/Crop Marks from PDF
  2. Reasons To Use Wondershare PDFelement To Add Bleed Marks in Files

Part 1. What Does Bleed/Crop Mark Mean?

Bleed is a term you have probably heard before if you have worked on a print project. What exactly does bleed in the Illustrator program mean? Further ahead is the definition of bleed lines and crop marks used in printing different business and promotional materials.

Adobe Illustrator Bleed Lines

The term bleed in the graphic design and printing industry refers to the part of a layout that lies beyond the crop area, trim mark, and printing bounding box. You can think of it as the space in your document where your artwork extends its original size. You use it when your artwork or design components must extend past the trim boundaries.

document with bleed in adobe illustrator

For instance, you will need to use Adobe Illustrator software to create bleed areas on slightly larger documents if you want photos running down the edges of a brochure. By doing this, the designs will still align with the printed side, granted that there are errors during cropping.

There are two main categories of adobe illustrator bleed. Depending on the goal of your paper, you may need to use a specific style of bleed.

Partial Bleed Vs. Full Bleed in Illustrator

Partial bleed refers to a few elements of your layout going beyond the crop marks of your document, usually with only one to three edges touched. Business cards, for example, can have partial bleed margins when there is just an image in the corner.

business card sample with bleed area

Meanwhile, full bleed refers to every element in your layout beyond its actual frame. It is when design elements extend to all four sides like a colored backdrop. You can use it for promotional materials such as posters and flyers.

You must apply a bleed area if any object on your content layout touches the edge of the document. The key is to position the element to extend it over the crop or trim marks. Read on to find out how crop marks in designs work.

Crop Marks in Illustrator

Illustrator crop marks tell your printer where to cut your document. They are outside the trim region at each corner of a page and serve as cutting guides.

printing marks in a document

Part 2. How To Add Bleed/Crop Marks With Adobe Illustrator?

Now that you know what bleed means for printing, it is time you learn how to use Adobe Illustrator software to add them to your layout. The built-in options in Illustrator software also let you add crop marks, so you can quickly include them.

How To Add Bleed in Illustrator for Your Layout

To help you make sure your design files are flawless and print-ready, here is how to apply bleed and crop marks in the Illustrator program. Let us get the ball rolling.

Option 1: Add Bleed in Illustrator to New Document

If you are creating designs for printing, adding bleed to new Adobe Illustrator documents is a must. Here is how you can ensure that your designs have the necessary margins and look professional.


Open Adobe Illustrator. Click File>New. Then the New Document dialogue box will show.

adobe illustrator interface choose file

Under Print, select Blank Document Presets. Next, set Width and Height dimensions, and choose a unit of measurement from the drop-down menu below the Preset Details selection.

adobe illustrator new document dialogue box

To increment or decrement the Bleed value, click the up-and-down control below the Top spin box. Do this until you set it to 0.125 inches or 3mm.


Lastly, click Create.

Option 2: Add Bleed in Illustrator to an Existing Document

Are you tired of designs that look unfinished or cut off at the edges? Adding bleed to your existing Adobe Illustrator documents can help solve that problem. Follow these steps to ensure your designs are print-ready.


Go to File> Document setup in the top navigation menu if you already have an opened document.

adobe illustrator choose document setup

Document Setup dialogue box will appear. Under General, click the up-and-down controls in the Bleed options. Click the link button to apply the bleed on all four sides concurrently.

adobe illustrator document setup dialogue box

Click OK once you have set up all the necessary information in the Document Setup dialogue box.

Option 3: Save As PDF With Illustrator Bleed Lines

Don't let your design layout fall short - make sure it has the necessary bleed and crop marks before you export and print. Follow these easy steps to ensure your designs stand out.


Choose File > Print on the top navigation pane.


On the Save Adobe PDF dialogue box, select Marks and Bleeds.

adobe illustrator save adobe pdf interface

Next, choose one of these:

  • The Top, Left, Bottom, and Right values you enter will determine where the bleed marks appear. Click the link symbol to make all the values uniform.
  • You can use the bleed values specified in the New Document dialog box. To do this, select Use Document Bleed Settings.
Tip: If you prefer, you can also choose Trim Marks under All Printer Marks. Trim Marks require you to define the offset distance between the trim marks and artwork and the width of the trim marks.
Note: The offset value should be greater than the Bleed value to avoid printing the markings on the bleed.

After things are all set up, click Save PDF.

Note: If the illustrator bleed is not showing, double-check if the elements of your artwork are extending to the bleed guide you defined.

Part 3. Wondershare PDFelement – Professional PDF Editor to Add Bleed/Crop Marks from PDF

Adding crop marks in Illustrator software plus bleed areas will help your printed material look professional while setting up your document for printing. Indeed, you can use graphic design software to do the task.

But a PDF editor can still add bleeds and crop marks if you overlooked setting the bleed lines in Illustrator software before exporting. To find a PDF editor that matches your unique demands, consider characteristics like the simplicity of use, price, and editing capabilities when choosing one.

Wondershare has a PDF editor called PDFelement. The program lets you add bleed and crop marks to PDF files in seconds. Upload your PDF, and with its intuitive interface, you can easily add bleed lines and crop marks to unlimited files for an affordable price.

adobe illustrator bleed pdfelement

Have trouble with illustrator bleed lines or forgetting to add crop marks to your PDF? Wondershare PDFelement can help. Preparing your PDF document for printing is easy with the following steps.


Download and launch Wondershare PDFelement. Then, click Open PDF to import your file layout.

pdfelement quick tools interface

Click Page from the top menu bar. Next, click More, then choose Page Boxes.

pdfelement interface page box option

The Page Boxes window will pop up. Here, select BleedBox from the drop-down menu under the Apply to selection.

pdfelement page boxes dialogue box
Tip: Under the Crop Margin selection, click the spin box up-and-down control buttons to adjust the crop margin on all sides.

Click Apply to make the necessary changes in your document.

pdfelement page boxes pop up window
Note: When you trim PDF pages, the information will not be lost, just hidden.

Part 4. Reasons To Use Wondershare PDFelement To Add Bleed Marks in Files

Wondershare PDFelement has multiple sets of features for a PDF editor that you would enjoy using for creating, managing, and editing PDF files. One of these features includes its capability to add bleed marks to PDF files. Use this PDF editor if you have trouble including Illustrator bleed lines on your layout. There are several reasons why PDFelement is the ideal tool for adding bleed marks to PDF files.

  • Cross-compatibility. PDFelement words across multiple devices so you can edit your PDF files anytime you need it. You can use it on a desktop (Windows 11 and below / macOS 10.14 to macOS 13) and your mobile phones (Android 5.0 and above / iOS 13 and above).

add bleed in illustrator pdfelement
  • Intuitive interface. Adding bleed marks to your PDF files is a breeze with the user-friendly and intuitive interface of PDFelement. So even if you have not used PDF editing tools before, you can quickly add bleed marks to your documents.
  • Batch processing. You may handle many PDF files at once with PDFelement. You can edit PDF files in multiple ways, including converting them to editable formats (Word, PNG, JPG, Excel, and more) without changing the formatting.


Understanding the importance of the bleed area in printing is crucial for achieving a polished and professional final product. Incorporate a bleed illustrator into your design to make sure you don't have unsightly white borders. Set up your document right with bleeds and crop marks in mind to avoid delays during prepress. You can confidently create stunning printed materials by following these tips.

For those looking for a reliable and easy-to-use PDF editor, Wondershare PDFelement is an excellent choice. It is a flexible application with features that make editing PDFs seem effortless. Printing design tasks require bleed and crop markings on PDF files, one of its best features.

This capability makes Wondershare PDFelement a top choice for anybody wishing to edit PDFs, along with its user-friendly interface and efficient editing tools. Give Wondershare PDFelement a try if you want an easy and efficient way to add bleed to your documents.

People Also Ask

  • 1. Do You Need To Add Both Bleed and Trim Marks Illustrator?
    Ensure you add bleed and trim marks if your design extends beyond the edge of your layout. Nevertheless, not every artwork has Adobe illustrator bleed lines. It is significantly more crucial to incorporate crop markings when there is no bleed.
    You may reduce printing costs by using no-bleed printing. Meanwhile, full-bleed printing is unquestionably the best option for more sizeable materials, including tabloid posters.
    The PDF editor will do just fine if you don't have Adobe Illustrator. Wondershare PDFelement is a comprehensive PDF editor that allows you to edit the pages in PDF documents in a few steps. Specifically, it lets you add or remove print marks from PDF files like bleed lines, crop marks, and watermarks. With PDFelement, you can easily customize your documents to suit your needs.
  • 2. Why Are Illustrator Bleed Lines and Crop Marks Necessary?
    You need to add bleed in illustrator around the edge of your documents to account for any cutting errors. You can also print and cut to size without a white margin around the edges. It is because bleeds stretch colors and components beyond the sides.
    Crop marks, or trim marks, are seen in the corners of printed files with bleeds. It is a good choice for documents with vivid backgrounds that go to the edge. When you add crop marks in illustrator, professional trimming companies use these as cues for where the cutting line should be on an enormous piece of paper as they move on with trimming operations to attain the final size.
    In short, trim marks tell you where to cut, and the bleed keeps the paper wide enough to cut. It helps ensure your design looks right after printing and trimming. It is especially true for professional printing jobs like brochures, business cards, or flyers since the quality of the finished product might affect the image of your business.
  • 3. What Is the Maximum Illustrator Bleed Area Size?
    You may set adobe illustrator bleed at a maximum of 72 points and a minimum of 0 points. The general rule of thumb for bleed area dimensions is to include an additional 1/8 inch (or 3mm) of bleed on all sides of the document.
    Nevertheless, the exact bleed area size could change based on the specifications of the printing firm, so it is advisable to verify with your printer before committing to your design.
    For your reference, here is a table of the standard bleed sizes for different document sizes.
    table of standard bleed sizes
Audrey Goodwin
Audrey Goodwin Apr 24, 24
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12 years of talent acquired in the software industry working with large publishers. Public speaker and author of several eBooks on technical writing and editing.