What is Bleed?
A bleed is simply extra background image that goes beyond the cut edge of the product, this allows your images or colors to be edge to edge rather than have a white border. On a press or copy machine, the artwork must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down to size. If you do not allow for a 1/16 (.0625) of an inch bleed (SOME PRODUCTS DO REQUIRE MORE BLEED PLASE ASK IF YOU ARE NOT SURE WHAT YOUR PRODUCT REQUIRES)., any misalignment can result in cutting variances and the artwork not running to the edge of the paper.
If you have designed a standard 3.5" x 2" business card with a photograph covering the whole area, you will need to enlarge that photograph to 3.5625" x 2.125". This will make the photograph extend 1/16" on every side of the page. The same will apply to a brochure cut to 8.5" x 11" adding the 1/8" bleed area resulting in a 8.75" x 11.25" document, some programs have built in bleed page settings but many like Photoshop do not, in this case simply make your document the size of the product plus the bleed and create a margin guide that will bring you in by 1/4" this will move your layout back from the cut edge and into the safezone so that nothing gets cut off during cutting.
Why is adding a Bleed necessary?
While our machines do a good job of keeping the alignment of each printed page, each sheet of paper can be a small difference in size or travel through the machine in a different way. Small mechanical variations can also end up leaving a hairline white edge where there should be no white edge at all, if the image is not extended beyond the final trim size. Extending images 1/16" beyond the final trim size guarantees that images truly will go all the way to the edge of the printed paper.