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I have never had problems in the past with printing documents, but ever since I started doing posters or mockups.. somehow I end up unconsciously cropping or padding (I am not sure it that is the proper term) up my set to get it to print.

Once I worked a 11 in. by 17 in. that took several prints to get it right (The print preview lied to me every time)

I think all the years of document printing has made me take for granted what the program does in the background to get my information on 8.5 in. by 11 in.

Is this practice used more in magazines (do I need to bother about it ?) ? Should I be regularly checking my printer to make sure it is aligned or set up properly ?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

What you might be missing here is that most professional printing involves printing on oversize sheets which are cut down to the required size.

The final artwork you supply contains 'crop marks' - these indicate where the printed oversize sheet should be cut down to produce the finished page. Output of these marks is normally automated by your software.

As you have found, it's very difficult to get consistent bleed/margins where you are printing directly onto finished size sheets.

Here's an article with a Definition of bleed and illustration of crop marks

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Should be noted that automating output marks for print is usually done in a software that is designed for prints. For example, my usual workflow involves placing a flattened Photoshop file into an inDesign document, which has properly set bleeds and margins, and then exporting it to a PDF. –  koiyu Jan 5 '11 at 11:59
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@koiyu: Agreed - you can do it in Photoshop, but it's not really the tool for the job of page layout. Illustrator would be better; InDesign ideal. –  e100 Jan 5 '11 at 12:21
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