I tried 4 different sets of definitions below, but they're still too abstruse! English ISN'T my first language. You don't have to read any thing below this line...I'm just showing all my work like math in school!

What a load of CROP! | Acrobatix!

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  • CropBox – Defines the boundary for the contents of a page when it’s displayed or printed. If not otherwise specified (for example, in the JDF settings), the crop boundary determines how page contents are positioned on the output medium.
  • ArtBox – Defines the meaningful content of the page, including white space.
  • TrimBox – Defines the finished dimensions of the page after trimming.
  • BleedBox – Defines the clipping path when the page is printed professionally to allow for paper trimming and folding. Printing marks may fall outside the bleed area.

Hindrance — This doesn't distinguish between "crop", "trimming", and "clipping".


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Hindrance — Both Bleed Box and Art Box contends 'Default value is the page's crop box.' This feels like useless Circular Definition.

PDF Boxes : mediabox, cropbox, bleedbox, trimbox, artbox - Scribus Wiki

For example, for an advertisement,

  • ArtBox is the content of the ad;
  • TrimBox is the size that an application like Scribus should use to place the ad;
  • BleedBox is the size that applications like Scribus should clip to;
  • CropBox is the size for proofing the ad for viewers but is not supposed to be used by applications like Scribus;
  • MediaBox is for complete pages including items that will be physically trimmed from the final product like crop marks, registration marks, slugs, etc.

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Doubtless, this diagram is stupidly colored. Why did they color the logo, but not the different Boxes? I color the borders differently.

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Hindrance — Definitions in terms of Scribus wilders me, because I unfamiliar Scribus.

The PDF page boxes: MediaBox, CropBox, BleedBox, TrimBox, ArtBox

  • The MediaBox is used to specify the width and height of the page. For the average user, this probably equals the actual page size. For prepress use, this is not the case as we prefer our pages to be defined slightly oversized so that we can see the bleed (Images or other elements touching an outer edge of a printed page need to extend beyond the edge of the paper to compensate for inaccuracies in trimming the page), the crop marks and useful information such as the file name or the date and time when the file was created. This means that PDF files used in graphic arts usually have a MediaBox which is larger then the trimmed page size.
  • The CropBox defines the region that the PDF viewer application is expected to display or print. So if a PDF contains a CropBox definition, Acrobat uses it for screen display and printing. For prepress use, the CropBox is pretty irrelevant. The GWG industry association recommends not to use it at all.
  • The TrimBox defines the intended dimensions of the finished page. Contrary to the CropBox, the TrimBox is very important because it defines the actual page size that gets printed. The imposition programs and workflows that I know all use the TrimBox as the basis for positioning pages on a press sheet. By default, the TrimBox equals the CropBox.
  • The BleedBox determines the region to which the page contents needs to be clipped when output in a production environment. Usually the BleedBox is 3 to 5 millimeters larger than the TrimBox. It is nice to know the size of the BleedBox but it isn’t that important in graphic arts. Most prepress systems allow you to define the amount of bleed yourself and ignore the BleedBox. By default, the BleedBox equals the CropBox.
  • The ArtBox is a bit of a special case. It was originally added to indicate the area covered by the artwork of the page. It is never used for that but can be handy in a few cases:
    • On a PDF page that contains an advertisement, the ArtBox can be used to define the location of that ad. This allows you to place that PDF on another page but only use the area covered by the advert.
    • A more common use of the ArtBox is as a means to indicate the safety zone. When creating a poster that will be placed in a lightbox, the designer must make sure text and logos aren’t positioned too close to the edge. If the poster is not mounted properly, this could cause that text or logo to disappear behind the frame of the lightbox. In book design, there is also a margin where you cannot put text because the binding might make it difficult to read text that is too close to the spine. The area where it is safe to place graphic elements is called the safety zone or text safe area. The ArtBox can be used to indicate the dimensions of this part of the page.

Hindrance — How does region that the PDF viewer application is expected to display or print vs. intended dimensions of the finished page vs. the region to which the page contents needs to be clipped when output in a production environment?

  • Theoretically, you could want to make a PDF that is both print ready with bleed and all and online use ready at the same time that hides these parts. I have never done this, i have never seen it done. But then even if it were done i would not notice it. But there is really no need to do this, although i can see how the possibility of doing this might seem like a good idea when you had no users. Its easy to see in hindsight why people would eork the way they do.
    – joojaa
    Nov 16 '21 at 6:44

Trim and Crop are most often the same thing. In fact, I can not recall any instance where they were not the same thing. Why the muddled terminology??? Ask Adobe.

The rest are fairly self-explanatory and I think answered in the question itself.

  • Trim & Crop = Either the edge of the Media or as specified in the artwork. It is possible to set a trim area smaller than the media (document). I've never seen both Trim and Crop use as separate items. They are always the same thing.
  • Media = Size of document this may or may not match the trim and crop box. Often it does.
  • Art = Size of artwork bounding box.
  • Bleed = Bleed area

The diagrams you've included assume the media is larger than the crop/trim area. This can be true. it's possible to set up a large document and then define a smaller crop/trim area within that large document. No issue.

However, many people actually work by creating the media (document) at the actual trim/crop size. Then upon output/export they allow software to insert printer marks outside the media area. In this workflow, the document (media) is the same as the trim and crop.

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