I've added .125 inches bleed to my A4 document and saved as High quality print from Illustrator.

enter image description here

Now if you see, top and bottom has some empty space. I know I could extend the image fully to bleed marks like I did on left and right (doesn't mean I haven't extended image on top and bottom. I did (1-2 mm), but very less as compared to left and right).

Now I'm pretty sure (I'm assuming printer knows artboard/document size so it will cut from there) it won't create problems while paper is cut, but it looks weird in PDF. Is it the default behavior of print PDF or can it be disabled in PDF, so that only artboard view is visibile? Also, will it create print problems?

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    If you are using bleed, make sure the artwork extends to the bleed marks on all sides. Not doing so defeats the point. – Vincent Jan 5 at 9:43
  • And why are you mixing units? It is either inches or mm, not both. First time you say .125 inches, then 1-2mm. Bleed unit needs to be the same as document unit. – Lucian Jan 5 at 14:19
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    FYI... Your Image has no bleed marks so it's hard to tell... but an important aspect of the bleed is... if you set up a .125" bleed then all images should fully extend to cover that .125". If, at the top and bottom of that image, you have less than .125" causing the white to show, you need to extend the image to cover the bleed area. Bleed settings are a minimum and not a maximum. – Scott Jan 5 at 19:29
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    To be frank bleed marks are largely superfluous and unnecessary. In most cases, they are there to merely indicate that a bleed has been considered/factored. Basically they provide, at a glance, knowledge that a bleed is included and that all bleed areas extend to at least the same minimum distance. Nothing is measured, trimmed, or done with bleed marks specifically. – Scott Jan 7 at 21:10
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    I think someone suggested this already, but I would also suggest possibly calling a couple local print shops and asking if you can take a tour to see the entire process from delivery of artwork to printed piece. Most I've encountered would be happy to do this since it costs them nothing. – Scott Jan 7 at 21:14

If you have been asked to create a 0.125" bleed, then you should make sure the image fits the bleed or overlaps it slightly. If it doesn't extend all the way to the edge, then it will not technically be a 0.125" bleed.

If it doesn't quite reach, then enlarge the image slightly so that it does. When you save the PDF, in the export settings, add trim marks to make sure the print finisher knows exactly where to cut it, and set it to "Use document bleed settings". Note that the trim marks will be cut off anyway, and so won't be visible in the finished document.

enter image description here


enter image description here

  • Hi. Can you please blur the main image? I posted original in hurry. Thanks. – Vikas Jan 5 at 10:02
  • print finisher = the guy who will use printer to print? – Vikas Jan 5 at 10:04
  • "Trim marks will be cut off anyway" does it mean the trim marks will get printed and later they'll cut them from paper? – Vikas Jan 5 at 10:06
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    If you want to know more about printing and the processes involved it would do no harm to request a local print shop for a guided tour of their facilities. I was in the print trade (offset lithography) for over 20 years, and customers/designers often requested such visits. It can be difficult to design for print if you have absolutely no print knowledge. – Billy Kerr Jan 5 at 10:25
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    @vik This might be part of what is confusing you: Trim marks are (or should be) offset from the trim by an amount equal to the bleed specifically so that they do not have any chance of showing once cut down. Adobe's default setting places them about half that so that they start in the middle of the bleed (or, at least, that used to be the default. I haven't had to deal with that in years). If your bleed is 1/8th inch, you should offset your trim marks by that much as well. Otherwise, you are right on that you might see the tips of a couple in the corners in the final product. – Rykara Jan 6 at 17:57

No, bleeds cannot be disabled from a PDF view.

A PDF either has bleed, or it doesn't. There is no "bleed on & off" button when looking at a PDF.

First, make sure you discuss this with the printer explicitly and understand what kind of PDF they need. In some cases they do not need a bleed on the PDF, otherwise you need to follow these steps and do not over think it:

  • Fill the bleed area in your AI source file
  • Send the PDF to print as it was requested: they know what to do with the bleed area. It is probably not the first time they see bleed on a PDF.
  • Export another PDF without bleed for any other purposes where a bleed is not needed

Personally, when the bleed issue is not specifically requested, I will create 2 identical PDFs: one with bleed, one without bleed, and deliver both files.

  • Suppose if I sent bleed .125 inches. Does it mean they'll use same bleed for cutting? or there can be a mistake because their default bleed setting is say .250 inches? Is that why you want to say I should talk to printer person? – Vikas Jan 5 at 14:05
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    0.125 inches bleed is kind of a standard in many places. 3mm in many other places. However, the printer should tell you how much bleed they need for their specific machines and settings. If you assume a value and send it anyway, without asking, they might be going back and asking for the files to be fixed to whatever bleed value they actually need. Never assume print specs unless you really know what you're doing. – Lucian Jan 5 at 14:17


This would just be a huge source of confusion because it assumes the person looking at a file knows that bleeds exist and have been hidden by the viewing software or not. This is why printer trim marks exist :)

A printer should quote the specs for a job ahead of time (or you should be aware of what print specs you're buying). If the quote says the printer is to produce, say, a thousand posters at the A4 final trim size, they will check (preflight) the file before printing to make sure that the files match the quoted specs. They're not about to print oversize and trim down for free.

Often, a printer will show you a proof of some sort to confirm that the final deliverable looks the way you intend. Sometimes that's a digital PDF, sometimes it's a physical mockup.

If they are printing to a given spec and your file has issues or does not match that spec, they should contact you to say "Hey, this job is not quoted to print oversize and trim down but your file is sized for an A4 sheet with 1/8th inch bleeds. Do you want us to just center the file on the A4 and crop the print design down to what fits within the printable margin? Scale it to fit? Send us a new file?"

I work at a printer and if a customer sends us a file that has bleeds but no printer marks to indicate where the trim lines are, we add them and show the customer a digital proof so they can see where it will trim (and so that everyone can confirm that bleeds are correctly built).

Of course, design customers don't always understand that the bleed is meant to be cutoff. I do freelance design work on the side and if I have a customer that isn't so savvy, I will show them a PDF proof without bleeds exported but then export a separate PDF, with bleeds and trim marks, that I give to the printer.

  • "we add them and show the customer a digital proof " you add them according to your default settings or according to the bleed amount give by customer in PDF? – Vikas Jan 7 at 12:03
  • @vikas We add trim marks for 1/8th inch bleeds because that's our standard bleed allowance. We dictate the minimum bleeds because we are the ones who have to fold signatures and trim the bound books. The customer doesn't get to determine how much bleed we use. If they give us 1/4 inch bleeds, then our marks would land in the middle of their bleeds because they have given us well over the 1/8th inch we need. If they give us less, we flag the problem to them so they can decide if they want to adjust their file or proceed as-is (knowing that some white will show on the edges). – Rykara Jan 7 at 18:00
  • in that case, why don't you just add trim marks to the document size simply? Why calculate that 1/8th inch stuff? – Vikas Jan 8 at 8:08
  • @vik I'm not sure I'm following. No need to calculate anything. InDesign and Illustrator document settings let you type in a bleed size and that creates the bleed box on your screen. When you export to PDF and select "add trim marks" they're added for the bleed size you entered automatically. – Rykara Jan 8 at 8:34
  • @vik Also: InDesign lets you toggle bleed visibility while you're working just like you are looking for. I think it's the W key by default. This doesn't affect how the file exports, though. That's driven by the export settings. I don't think this feature exists in Illustrator but I could be wrong. – Rykara Jan 8 at 8:40

Don't do this.

...even if it turns out to be possible. In my opinion, there is never a need to do this, and it even encourages printing errors.

First off, I'd like to repeat what Billy says: if you are using the bleed area, fill it up completely. Not doing so defeats the point of using bleed and may end up confusing your printer. Possibly, getting your PDF rejected.

A print-ready, certified PDF (cPDF) is intended for print. All people who are going to look at this PDF are going to need to know the bleed area is there, and see its contents. If you hide it, they cannot do their work and print errors might be the result. It may look funny to you, but printers often need that bleed area

If you want a version of the PDF that looks good on screen, and doesn't have those 'funny' bleed and registration marks and all, make another version of the PDF, an 'Interactive' one.

cPDFs are not made to be looked at, they are made to be printed. 'Interactive' PDFs are made to be looked at and not to be printed. Use each as they are intended.

  • Oh. but I won't separately need to tell printer guy that there's some "extra artwork" in the PDF and you've cut from artboard/document dimension only? I mean he knows document size from PDF information, right? – Vikas Jan 5 at 10:00
  • Can printer get confused? o.O – Vikas Jan 5 at 10:08
  • @Vikas Printers are people. They can get confused. cPDFs are, usually and ideally, checked visually with human eyeballs before they go to production. – Vincent Jan 5 at 10:43
  • I still don't understand how can machine confused. – Vikas Jan 6 at 11:14

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