I am preparing a document to send to print. I was asked to add bleed. Is it necessary for a no background document? The image on the design will not go all the way to the edge. Or should I add a white background layer and add the bleed to that?


2 Answers 2


Make sure you didn't confuse this:

1) Did the printer said "Add bleed if you have elements going to the edges"


2) did he said "Add bleed and make your print-ready at the size of the bleed".

For #1, you do not add bleed or trim marks. For #2, you do add bleed.

It's normal they will mention to add bleed on a printer requirement/specification sheet as a tip. As you said, if the print people didn't see your design, it's possibly just the protocol. If you don't need bleed, don't add it.

Be careful in adding bleed when you don't need it; some printers blindly shrink your layout to fit a non-bleed sheet OR will charge you for a bleed print even if you don't need it. Or worse, they'll print the trim marks and shrink your layout to fit the sheet... Horrible true story scenario that can happen especially with digital printing or online printers.

If possible simply ask the printer. Local printers usually prefer to not have trim marks and bleed when they're not necessary, especially when using digital prints. It's ok if you put them but make sure to mention it.

White is absence of color, and transparent too. So adding a background or not doesn't matter. What's important is really the dimension of your file.


You do not need the bleed for the image, but you probably are asked to have one to align the page to the rest of the designs they are putting on the plate.

So if they asked that yes, do it.


I can think of several reasons for the need of bleed on a printer's metodology.

If you do not asign a bleed you could try to align designs next to each other (A) This can imply that any misaligment can be incremental.

If you use bleed (if your design need it or not that is another issue) You have a more controlled output (B)

Your project ill be printed with other projects. This can be business cards, or it is a magazine add. Your design does not need bleed but the rest do. (C)

You have an aditional process, folding, Varnish, etc. (D)

There are many reasons to work with a bleed. It does not matter if your design needs it or not.

The only case I would not use a bleed is on a leterhead where the paper is exactly the finish size.

  • sorry,I do not understand about "have one to align the page to the rest of the design..." The page design has exactly a 0.4 inch margin all around. The image is positioned inside exactly within that margin. I can't expand the image outside the margin because it would ruin the design. There is the image and then below it, the text aligned with that image. Like everything inside a column. So, maybe you can explain me better what you are saying. Maybe it is clear to you, but I didn't get it.
    – Sandc
    Nov 13, 2015 at 2:13
  • 1
    the print people haven't seen the design though...so maybe it is just protocol of asking for people sending documents with colored background and images all the way to the edge. I would like to know if adding a white layer background is important. I do understand that white is not an ink. Though softwares can read whether it has a background or not. It will read that white area and show the exact size and not only read within the text and images.
    – Sandc
    Nov 13, 2015 at 2:22
  • Answer edited :o)
    – Rafael
    Nov 13, 2015 at 4:43
  • -1 (deserves -10) You're wrong with the "but you probably are asked to have one to align the page to the rest of the designs they are putting on the plate.", just confusing the OP with Prep imposition work that OP shouldn't even care about. What are you talking about anyway, you seem to mix some basic prepress techniques with folding/binding. The answer is NO the OP doesn't need to add bleed UNLESS a template was provided with the bleed. In any case, it's going to be a white area. Printer prefer NO bleed and no trim marks when there's none, plus OP could be charged more because of confusion.
    – go-junta
    Nov 13, 2015 at 6:53
  • @Sandc White = absence of color. Transparent = absence of color. You can add a white background or not. It's all considered 0% color anyway and doesn't matter at all!
    – go-junta
    Nov 13, 2015 at 6:57

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