Bleed Explained

 When it comes to Zfold printing, we use a professional print guillotine to cut through the paper, to create the sized Zcard that you need. As such, we’d recommend adding a bleed area around your Z fold card artwork. But what is a bleed area? Follow our ‘bleed explained’ guide below and find out!

Bleed explained: what is a bleed area?

A bleed area is an extension of the background of your design, or an ‘overprint’. It’s where you extend your background colour or pattern further than the edges of your sized design.

Why do you need bleed?

Our guillotine is incredibly accurate, and as such slices through hundreds of Zfolds cleanly. However, even the most accurate industrial guillotine can be subject to tiny micromovements. Having a little bit of bleed area will ensure that you have no minuscule white areas around the edges of your Zcard design. 


electronic printing paper guillotine - bleed explained

What amount of bleed is advisable?

We would strongly suggest having a bleed area of 3mm all around your Zcard design – this means that any background colour, design, image etc. will need to be extended this far. Don’t include any crucial design elements in your bleed area – it should merely be a safety area in case of tiny guillotine movements. 

printing document with no bleed

Document set up with no bleed

printing file with 3mm bleed added

Document set up with 3mm bleed

PDF file with 3mm bleed and crop marks

Exported PDF with bleed and crops

How can I add a bleed area to my Zcard design document?

Under File > Document set up in the dialog box that says bleed and slug click into the bleed part and add 3mm on each side.

Similar to indesign except File > New will bring up the document dialog box, add 3mm to all sides.

Photoshop does not have a bleed setting so we recommend setting up your document 3mm bigger all around, so if document is to be printed A4 (210x297mm) set up as 216 x 303mm.

screenshot of illustrator bleed set up

Illustrator bleed dialog box

We’d also recommend a safe area…

This is not the same as a bleed area. A safe area is designed to ensure your Z fold card design is kept clean and aesthetic. A safe area is also sometimes referred to as a ‘margin’. This area sits within your existing Zcard artwork design, as opposed to bleed – which is external. Set up a safe area a few mm from the edge of your design and ensure that any crucial design elements are within this space. that goes for text, headings, logos and other important artwork elements. 

This is to make sure that no graphics or text appear cramped, uneven or run the risk of being cut in the guillotine process. For Zcards, we’d recommend a margin of 5mm. Please note – if you’re opting for foiling or Spot UV, please ensure you give a wider margin for safety.


If you are unsure about bleed and your artwork or have any questions then call us on 023 8087 8037 or email us.

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