To be honest, before I started working for a printing company I had no idea what bleed was. It also took me a while to figure out exactly what it meant. I have since found that it is easier to explain why we need bleed before really explaining what it is.
There are some easy ways for you to check your files on your own. By clicking the buttons below, you can view templates and compare your bleed with the template's bleed OR upload your files and have us check them for you.
We need 1/8" bleed on files because when we print your products they are printed on very large sheets of white paper. We then stack the pages to get trimmed. Imagine cutting a stack of paper with a pair of scissors. When the two blades come together the papers shift ever-so-slightly. The technical term for this is "draw". It means that the force of the blade on the cutter will force the stack out while cutting creating a very very small variance (check out the trimming machine video above). When that shift happens if the image doesn't "bleed" off the edge of the page you are left with an unsightly white border.
White borders = unhappy customers.
If your image extends 1/8" past the trim line then it doesn't matter if the stack shifts because there is "extra" image in place to make up for the shift.
For the same reason we ask your images to bleed 1/8" past the trim line we also ask that you keep your important text 1/8" inside the trim line. Again, if the stack of pages shifts during the trimming you want to ensure that nothing important gets cut off.Below is an example of the correct way to design a with a 1/8" bleed.