Example of a properly setup page with Margins and Bleed

How to: Document Setup

Document setup is one of the most overlooked steps on any print job. You should always know what you want your final project to be. As a result  you know what size to start you project. The following are the best practices for submitting your work for print. Furthermore, if you need more information on color or resolution, please follow the links.

Do you need to add bleed in your document setup?

What is bleed? If your design has color or a background that goes all the way to the edges of the page. That is called bleed. A good way to look at it is, if you spill ink on your paper, it will spread out. When it gets to the edge of the page that ink will “bleed” off the page. That’s kind of how the name came to be.

Bleed should go a minimum of 1/8″ / .125″ ( one-eighth inch) off the page. This will add an extra 1/4″/.25″ to both height and width of your document.

Add in margins to your document setup

Margins qualify as the space between the edge of the document and where you can put your content.

You should always give a minimum of 1/4″ / .125″ from the edge of your paper to your content. Luckily there is more information on margins. So if you need more explanation, you can find that information here.


Gutters are the space between columns, like on a trifold brochure. That is why it’s important to give ample room for any folding that may need to be done.

We recommend a minimum of 1/8″ / .125″, but you would be safer sticking with 1/4″ / .125″ for best results.


When you submit your work, don’t forget to export or save to a PDF using crop marks and bleed.

Even if you go through all the trouble of setting your document properly. You add bleed and proper margins, it does no good, if you don’t include the crop marks. (More here).

And when it comes to file type, there is one that trumps all. The PDF (Portable Document Format) file format locks the position of every element on the document. As a result, you never have unexpected changes.

Any other format has the chance of shifting text, changing fonts and more. With a PDF what you see is what will print.