How to prepare your Printing Files: Trim Marks and Bleeds

PCG explains what trim marks and bleeds are and why they are important when designing your printing files.

Trim Marks



Trim marks, also called crop marks, are marks that show the printer precisely how a printing document must be cut. They are two small lines, one vertical and one horizontal, at each corner of the file.

They are not visible when you are designing your printing file, but if you add them, they appear when you save the file as a PDF.


In a print shop, files are first printed and then cut in order to obtain the desired format.

Bleeds is how we call the area where the design extends beyond the edges of the file, to avoid leaving a white line around the borders of your printing product.

Indeed, there is a 1 mm margin of error when trimming the print. If your file does not include bleeds, a thin white line might show all around the edges of your printing product.

We recommend to add 3mm of bleeds on each side.

Safe zone

The safe zone is the area where you have to put the important information. Everything placed outside of this zone may be cut when trimming.

You can add margins (3 to 5 mm) to your file in order to help you visualize this area. The margins extend from the safe zone to the edges of your printing product.

Example Trim marks and bleeds - PCG Barcelona
Why is it important to add bleeds?

With bleeds you can obtain a better printing product, without a thin white line around its edges due to the inevitable margin of error of the trimming process in a print shop.

Adding bleeds should be the first step when designing your printing files.

In some cases, you can slightly increase the dimensions of a file that doesn’t include bleeds in order to trim it properly. But it is not always the case and not something we would advise you to do, because it can stretch your design.

How to add bleeds in your files?

To add bleeds on Photoshop, you can simply create a table larger than the final printing product you want.

Adding bleeds is possible on Illustrator and Indesign too. The image below shows you how to do it on Illustrator.

How to add bleeds on Illustrator - PCG Barcelona
If you have any doubts, contact PCG, we can help and advise you with the design of your files!

Contact with PCG

If you need a personalised quotation or would like our team to provide you with assessment for your projects, please feel free to contact us. We are a team of professionals from the sector that will look after your project from beginning to end.

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