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We provide Dissertation Binding, Thesis Binding, Bespoke Bookbinding and a range of printing services for students in London and the UK.

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Stories from our bindery, tips for university, guides to print, experiences and presentations of our students.

Setting up Bleed and Crop Marks - Print Ready Artwork

Caroline Leonard

This week I'm going to walkthrough how to set up bleed and crop marks on your artwork in Adobe Indesign. I'll then show you how export to PDF so your file is ready to go to print. 

Firstly, what is bleed? Bleed is the area that extends beyond your final artwork. It is trimmed off by printers when your final piece is cut to size, but is required to ensure the print runs all the way to the edge of your artwork. If there is no bleed, there is no room for error, so if there is any movement of the paper or a misalignment when the printer is cutting your artwork to size you may see unprinted white edges along your document.

At Student Bookbinding we require 3mm of bleed on all finished artwork which is generally the standard bleed size in the UK. The 3mm should be added to each of the four sides of the page which in turn would add 6mm to the width and length of your document.

Create a 'New Document' in InDesign. You'll see at the bottom of the window that pops up,an area to input the Bleed; make sure it's 3mm on all four sides and press OK. 

Don't worry about the Slug - unless you want to include any document information such as the Version No. so you can see any tracked changes when editing your file. In InDesign, the slug will sit inside the bleed, so will be trimmed off.

Creating Bleed

A new document will open with 2 main areas, defined by coloured lines. The black line is the final dimension of your document, the line which printers will trim down. The area from the black line to the red represents your bleed area.

You will see here, that my image has extended 3mm beyond the black vertical and horizontal lines, which is where the artwork will be trimmed.

Print ready artwork
Step 3.jpg

Ideally, any text or graphics you don't want cut off from your design should lie inside the purple lines, or Margins that InDesign has provided for you - also known as 'the safe area'. You can define Margin size when setting up your New Document.

Right once you are happy with your layout we can begin to export to PDF and add our Crop Marks. 

Go File Export and choose Save Type: Adobe PDF (Print)
Choose Press Quality as per below.
Then navigate to Marks and Bleeds on the left hand column

Print Quality

Once you're in the Marks and Bleed area:
Check Crop Marks and Check use Document Bleed Settings

Press Quality

Finally, click Export, and you'll have one print-ready PDF! 

If you have already laid out your artwork and need to create Bleeds afterwards, you simple need to go to File > Document Setup and it will give you the option to add in Bleed. You will have to extend your artwork though to the edge of the bleed, so it's often best to just insert your bleed right from the start. Here's a video showing you how to do add in your bleed marks afterwards just in case.