In printing there are terms you hear frequently - bleed, trim, safe area, etc. To understand them in context, it is important to understand that printing presses have slight mechanical variations each time they are used. i.e. each time a sheet goes through the printer, it wont line up exactly the same as the last one. These random shifts can be in any direction and can cause problems if you don't account for them.
The video below will give you an overview of how the process works:
Some terms you should know:
TRIM LINE - The outermost edge along which we cut the page. On an 8x8 print, the trim lines will be exactly 8 inches apart. The trim line is the line shown in red below - note, it isn't actually red in the editor.
BLEED - The area outside of the trim line which is cut away during the printing process.
- Q: Why cut away anything at all? Because if you don't extend your content beyond the trim line, slight mechanical variations may result in slivers of white along the edges of your page.
- Q: Does this mean you have to stretch your photos past the edge of the print/page? No, we take care of that for you by automatically taking the contents of your page (up to the trim line) and enlarging it slightly so it extends beyond the trim line. The good news is you don't get any white edges, the bad news is, a slight amount of your content will be lost along the edges, so make sure not to put anything important there.
- Q: Is there any way to know exactly how much will be trimmed so I can compensate for it? No. The variations in printing will cause the paper to shift up, down, left or right by a random amount before it is trimmed. We can't tell the amount or direction in advance except to say the variations will not exceed 1/8 of an inch.
FULL BLEED - This is when you extend your photo right to the edge of the paper.
SAFE AREA - the area at least 1/8" in from the trim line. All important content such as text should be kept within this area to ensure none of it is lost during the trimming process.
BORDERS & MARGINS - You can leave some space between your content and the edges of the page, but it isn't possible to add content between the safe area and the trim line. In other words you can extend your content to the trim line (full bleed) or to the edge of the safe area, but not in between. If you try to move content into the area between those lines it will snap to one or the other.
- Q: Can I leave a border around the outside of my pages by extending my photos to the edges of the safe area to ensure nothing gets trimmed? Yes - but... this isn't recommended. As noted above, the shift that takes place during printing is random in amount and direction. As a result, the borders won't be an even thickness from one page to the next.