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Bleed is an essential concept in the printing world that deals with the edges of paper and how it is printed or cut. Because printers essentially grab each sheet of paper by the edges to feed it through the printer, no printer can print all the way to the material's outer edge and will most likely cut off your final product.

Bleed margins help to avoid this issue resulting in a polished and professionally finished product. And to help you understand print bleeds better, this article will unravel everything you need to know about bleed in printing.

In this article
  1. What Does Bleeding in Printing Mean?
  2. How To Add Bleed to PDFs With Wondershare PDFelement
  3. Difference Between Full Bleed vs. No Bleed
  4. How Much Bleed Should I Leave for Printing?

Part 1: What Does Bleeding in Printing Mean?

First, it's important to know what bleed in printing means. The extra space around the outside of your document that will be cut off during production is called bleed. It is required to produce almost all paper print products, including business cards, presentation folders, canvas prints, and even banners.

Bleed is a background color, graphic, or image that extends beyond the edge of the finished paper size. Printing equipment struggles to apply ink up to the cut edge of a sheet of paper.

As a result, an extra .125” (3mm) margin is typically added on each side of the design. The margin allows the background color, graphic, or image to extend past (i.e., “bleed off”) the paper's final trim edge, which will be cut off the printed sheet. For example, a letterhead sheet with bleed will be 8.75” x 11.25” before being trimmed to a finished size of 8.5” x 11”.

If your artwork lacks bleed, the resulting print will have thin white lines at the very edge. So how can you keep this from happening? There are PDF solutions where you can easily add bleed in your PDF, just like PDFelement's BleedBox, to work around it. It's a useful tool from a powerful yet easy-to-use PDF solution.

missing bleed

Part 2: How To Add Bleed to PDFs With Wondershare PDFelement

Being an all-inclusive PDF management tool, Wondershare PDFelement offers several margin control options to help you get the best outcome for your work. And among these options is the BleedBox tool. When people professionally print a page, the clipping path is defined by BleedBox to allow for paper trimming and folding. Check out the step-by-step guide below on how you can add bleed to your PDF using PDFelement:


Launch PDFelement on your device and open your file.


Navigate to the Page tab on top of the screen, then click on the More button to access the Page Boxes menu and click on it.

pdfelement page boxes

A dialog box will appear. Under the Apply to drop-down menu, click on the BleedBox option. Insert the margin values you prefer, then click Apply once done.

pdfelement bleedbox tool

Key Features of PDFelement

PDFelement stands out from the crowd because, aside from its BleedBox tool, it is a full-featured PDF solution packed with numerous primary and advanced PDF editing options. Some of the excellent features provided by PDFelement include:

  • View and Edit PDF documents
  • Create and complete PDF forms
  • Accurate OCR Tool
  • Superior file conversion to and from PDFs
  • Arrange and Merge PDF Pages
  • Annotate PDF Files
  • Built-in Cloud Storage
  • PDF Password Security


PDFelement provides a number of low-cost plans to ensure that users get the best deal possible. The following are the PDFelement's pricing details:

Individual Team

Yearly Plan - 79.99 USD

Perpetual Plan – 129.99 USD

Annual Plan – 109 USD per user

Perpetual Plan – 139 USD per user

Supported OS

PDFelement is a PDF management tool that works on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. The table below shows which operating systems each one supports.

System Supported OS
Windows Windows 11 and below
Mac macOS 10.14 to macOS 13 (Apple M1 & M2 Compatible)
Android Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and up
iOS iOS 13 and above

  • Loaded with a plethora of basic and advanced PDF editing features
  • UI/UX that is both professional and efficient
  • Reasonably priced license and subscription options
  • Its straightforward user interface makes it very easy to use
  • Cloud Services Integration
  • Although it is free to download, in-app purchases are required to enjoy its extensive features fully.

Part 3: Difference Between Full Bleed vs. No Bleed

Full-bleed printing makes sense when a project requires a printed image or document with no margins or when the printed color and images extend to the edge of the paper. Technically, no special equipment is required for full-bleed printing. Printing companies have long used a “trick” to achieve a popular printing effect with customers.

full bleed and no bleed difference

The digital file's background must be extended to 8.75” x 11.25” to produce a full bleed 8.5” x 11” color copy. After printing, a guillotine cutter will remove .125” from each side of the color copy to achieve the final dimension. This way, the finished product has been printed all the way to the edge of the sheet.

No bleed printing, on the other hand, is the kind of printing you're used to. Your home desktop printer is perfectly capable of “no bleed” printing. It leaves a thin white margin around the files when printing a standard sheet of 8.511” paper.

Part 4: How Much Bleed Should I Leave for Printing?

When it comes to printing, there are several approaches to dealing with bleed. Here are some of the methods you should consider:

  • You can leave an appropriate margin around the edges of the material you're printing to allow for printing and cutting errors. The “safe zone” for printing text is 0.25 inches inside the document's edge (or cut line).
  • If you want images or other graphics to extend to the material's edges, you should enlarge the image beyond the desired size into the bleed zone.
  • A standard bleed area is approximately .125 inches on each side. So, if you're printing a standard 11 x 8.5-inch document, you'll want the final template to be 11.125 x 8.625 inches.
  • Alternatively, if you're printing a custom background image on a standard 9 x 12-inch folder, the image should be at least 9.125 x 12.125 inches on both sides.
bleed size

Most documents only require a .125-inch margin; however, documents in large sizes may necessitate a larger bleed area. For documents larger than 18 x 24 inches, the standard bleed area is .5 inches. For example, if you want to print an 18 x 24-inch document, you should create an 18.5 x 24.5-inch template. Remember to leave some space for cutting.

bleed zone

There's no way of knowing where the bleed area will be cut, so ensure you extend images beyond the final document's edge and all the way to the end of the bleed zone. To serve as a guide, check out this table of common document sizes and their bleed measurements:

Document Size Size with Bleed
Legal Paper 8.5” x 14” 8.625” x 14.125”
Letter Paper (Standard) 8.5” x 11” 8.625” x 11.125”
Business Card 2.3” x 2” 2.425” x 2.125”
Pocket Folder 9” x 12” 9.125” x 12.125”
Postcard 4” x 7” 4.125” x 6.125”
Invitation 5” x 7” 5.125” x 7.125”


Adding bleed to your PDFs before printing is important to ensure that your printing projects have a professional, polished look. And with PDFelement's features, you can ensure that you will get the best possible outcome for your PDFs.

As an ultimate all-in-one PDF management tool, PDFelement provides everything you'll require for your PDF needs. It's a simplified PDF solution that is quick and affordable, with an intuitive user interface to help you work faster and more efficiently than ever.

People Also Ask

  • Q1. Should I Add Bleed When Printing?
    You'll only need to print bleed if your design extends beyond the edge of the page. You won't have to worry about print bleed if all of your text and images are in the center of the design and surrounded by a plain white background. The edges will blend seamlessly into your overall design.
  • Q2. What Does a .25 Bleed Mean?
    It refers to an additional 1/8” (.125 in) of image or background color that extends beyond your printing piece's trim area. The project is printed on an oversized sheet, which is then cut down to size so that the image appears to “bleed” off the edge of the paper. It's best to set up your bleeds at the start of your project, so you don't have to adjust them later.
  • Q3. How Many Pixels Should a Bleed Be?
    If you're working in pixels, you'll need to add an extra 38 pixels for image bleed. This is because 0.125” converts to 38 pixels at 300 dpi (which is the minimal printable resolution for most printers).
  • Q4. How Many Inches Is a 3mm Bleed?
    A bleed value of 3mm constitutes .125 inches, the standard bleed area for most printing projects.
  • Q5. What Is a Cut Line?
    The cut line represents the printed product's final flat size. To print to the edge (known as “bleed” because the colors bleed off the paper), we start from a bigger piece of paper and cut down to create the final size, known as the “cut size” or “finish size.”
  • Q6. What Does a Safety Zone Mean?
    A “safety zone” inside the page boundary is recommended in addition to the bleed area beyond the edge of a page. Any important elements, such as text or graphics, should be kept within this “safety zone,” a 0.25” buffer zone in from the cut size on all four sides.
    This will improve the appearance of your printed piece while also preventing any text or images that are too close to the cut line from being cut off due to paper shifting when cutting many sheets at once by machine.
Audrey Goodwin
Audrey Goodwin Apr 07, 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.