I Googled and found this page about bleed. It says the following:

The fact that content needs to extend beyond the page boundaries is no excuse for sloppy design. Letting images extend beyond the needed bleed clutters the file, can lead to bloated PDF files and simply looks sloppy.

Point taken that you shouldn't just leave large graphics unkempt and extended beyond the trim marks willy-nilly because that does seem to clutter the file and be sloppy; and I'm not entirely sure if a desktop publishing program actually cuts off graphics at the edge of its container (for example, in Adobe InDesign, placed images are contained within a bounding box which defines the visibility extent of the images) and embeds only those cuts in the PDF instead of the whole original graphics, but if that's what it does, then bloated PDFs may be a concern.

That being said, is it really necessary to spend time extending graphics precisely to the bleed marks? Would it be that big a deal if I extend graphics beyond the bleed a tiny bit, like say five milimetres or so? Adobe apps like InDesign or Illustrator actually crop out whatever is beyond the bleed mark anyway on exporting to a PDF, so is it really worth the trouble to be too concerned about bleed when placing graphics? Or is it a problem for other programs upon exporting to PDFs?

Here's a screenshot of a PDF page exported from InDesign. The original page in InDesign actually has a magenta rectangle extending beyond the bleed mark, but it's not visible at all here. The cyan rectangle was precisely extended to the bleed mark, and the yellow rectangle to the trim mark. enter image description here

  • It does not extend beyond bleed if its cropped by export.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 5:32
  • It might be a good idea to make your working document less cluttered, but since InDesign crops away everything beyond the bleed I can't see the real problem. Something that is annoying when I do prepress though are all those unnecessary marks outside your document. No need for anything else than crop marks (even they aren't really needed, but they make it possible to quickly see that this is a print PDF with bleed).
    – Wolff
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Objects extending past bleed marks are never really a problem. There's no such thing as "too much" bleed. Within reason of course. I mean a 6" bleed would be ridiculous unless it was requested.

However, it never hurts to keep cleanliness in mind while working. Much the same way you can't work effectively if there are 50 items scattered all over your desk, prepress is made easier if you show a little effort and keep files as clean as possible.

Most high-end apps will crop or truncate objects outside a bleed region. But not all will. And even if you don't see items outside the bleed area that does not mean those objects aren't still there and merely hidden via a mask. And extra content, visible or not, always increases file sizes (kb).

So while it's not imperative that everything stop exactly at the outer bleed area, it's not a bad idea to keep tidy files whenever possible. If cutting an object at the outer bleed areas mean the object must be manually altered (beyond merely adjusting an object frame), then it may be best to leave the additional object data so as to not alter the on-page, visible portion.

(Note this also goes for all those random things off the page on the pasteboard.... it doesn't hurt to remove all that working content before generating a press-ready PDF)


While keeping your files tidy is mostly just good craftsmanship (and courtesy when working with other people), there are some cases where it can prevent problems further down the road.

For example: Spot colours

If you place an "spot-coloured" object next to your page, some prepress-algorithms will flag your document for using more than 4c.

This quote by Steve Jobs might help:

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” ― Steve Jobs

  • 5
    Steve Jobs was obviously never a front-end developer.
    – Vincent
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 9:49
  • Yeah, but sometimes trying to get everything perfect even though it ends up being completely invisible as Steve Jobs said seems to be more trouble than it's worth. Lots of 3D modelers strive to get perfect geometry, only to find out that even Pixar has some (bafflingly) bad geometry on their models and no one ever noticed in their films. Commented May 14, 2020 at 10:21
  • 2
    Steve was never really a craftsman. There are a lot of situations where this kind of attitude can backfire really badly. I mean the cabinet maker in a way is paid for luxury in this case so it makes sense. However the situation is just swapping base material for another material. NO difference in time it took to do it and in fact having two material sources makes the logistics of manufacturing more complex. We do this all the time, use material thats more expensive because the opportunity cost to procure the chapest material takes time. You can also grind to halt doing this in other areas.
    – joojaa
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 6:57
  • 1
    So, you don't use plywood, but to save money and cut costs it's absolutely fine if you use manufacturers in countries where labour is cheap, workplace safety standards and pollution regulations are virtually non-existent. LOL.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 10:30

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