If you have ever sent a file to the printers you may well have heard them say, “We need a print-ready PDF with crops and bleed.” This can be quite daunting if you are not familiar with print terminology!

Let’s look at what this means and how to add these to your artwork documents.

Crop Marks:

In 99.9% of cases, the printer will position your artwork multiple times or with other printing jobs onto a large sheet of paper to make the best use of the sheet during the printing process. Crop marks are an indication of where to trim and cut your job once it’s been printed to get the correct finished size.


This term describes the process of getting your print to go right to the edge of your product. In most cases, when creating your print-ready artwork we recommend adding 3mm of bleed to sit outside of the crop marks (as mentioned above).

This can either be created using professional design packages such as the Adobe Creative Cloud or QuarkXpress, but can also be achieved using other applications by simply adding 6mm to the height and width of your document. If you’re in any doubt about your bleed settings, we can advise you how to achieve this – just drop us an email and we will be happy to help.

Safe Zone:

Also, it’s just as important to keep text or images in what we call a “safe zone.”

Keeping images and text in the safe zone reduces the risk of having any elements being cut off or undesirably close to the edge. Ideally, it should be set at 5mm in from the edge of the document, but 3mm should be okay if you’re running out of space.

The diagram below highlights the bleed area, cut line and safe zone for text and images.




Setting your trims and bleed area:

If you have created your artwork in a design package such as Illustrator, InDesign or QuarkXpress, it will allow you to add these elements to your artwork when exporting to a PDF.

  • Go to file > Adobe PDF Presets.
  • A window will appear.
  • Under the tab “Marks and Bleed” tick the box “crop marks.”
  • Under the bleed setting, type the desired amount of bleed needed.

In most cases a 3mm bleed area will be enough, but check with your printer as some have different requirements for their printing presses.

Once this has been done your PDF will have been exported with your desired bleed and crop marks applied.




If you need any help to make sure your artwork is going to print nicely, get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to assist.

Tel: 01279 797955

Email: printing@pdtdesign.co.uk