"Full Bleed" is a printing term that refers to printing that actually goes beyond the edge of the sheet before trimming. This ensures that after folding and cutting is completed, your print will still have color which runs all the way to the ends of your paper. Be sure to select the "full bleed" option on the job order site if you want printed-to-edge products. You will also need to make sure that all critical text and design elements are moved at least 1/8" from the edges so that they are not trimmed off.
If you specify full bleed printing you may extend graphics, color boxes and sweeps right to edge of the paper. In the graphics below, bubbles marked in red are things you need to be mindful about if ordering a full bleed print.
Let's see how the folks in the front office at CatPrint did designing our business card:
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When we print your full bleed document here is what actually happens: We take your document size (say it was a 3.5 X 2" standard business card) and we streeeetch it out by 1/8" all the way around. So your document becomes a total of ¼" bigger on each side. So for example your business card is now 3.75 X 2.25". After we print out your documents, we then cut the paper 1/8" smaller all the way around, so your business card is once again 3.5 X 2"!
When we stretch your document it causes a slight distortion in the size. Normally this does not matter, and is not noticeable. If you don't want us to stretch your document, you can simply make it ¼" bigger for us. Then we don't have to stretch it out, but we will cut off the outer 1/8" edge of the document.
So its your choice: If you specify full bleed printing, and the document you provide is the same size as the finished document we will stretch it out to make sure that edge gets printed and cut cleanly. If on the other hand you give us a document 1/8" bigger, all the way around, we will not stretch it out, but simply cut it down to size.
Normally our suggestion is for 8.5 X 11, 8.5 X 14, 11 X 17 and 5.5 X 8.5 documents you let us do the stretching. These sizes are standard on most Word Processors so you don't need any special templates, and the documents are big enough that you will not notice the little bit of tugging we do on the edges. For documents smaller than 5.5 X 8.5 you can go either way, it's up to you.