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How to Achieve Full Bleed Printing From a Desktop Printer



Designs that bleed off the edge may not be easy with desktop printing but it can be done.

© Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com

Terms You Need to Know: bleed | bleed allowance | trim size

A bleed is where portions of your artwork -- it could be background or it could be text or graphic elements such as photos -- go completely to the edge of your finished document. This effect is achieved in commercial printing processes by printing your document on a larger sheet of paper than the size of the document, extending the background or bleed objects beyond the edge (bleed allowance) just a bit then cutting the document down to the final trim size. With desktop printers, you can do bleeds with some types of documents such as business cards but for larger documents that use a full sheet of paper (of whatever size your printer handles) you may not be able to have a bleed. The printer needs to be able to grip the paper along the edges to feed it through the printer. This leaves a non-printing area around the edges.

There are ways around that desktop printer limitation though. Option 1 might require getting a new printer (or exploring a feature you may already have on your printer). Option 2 requires using scissors or a paper trimmer. Option 3 might require you to shop for different types of papers for your greeting cards and other projects but it will get the results you want for certain kinds of documents.

Option 1: There are some desktop printers that offer a "print to the edge" or "borderless printing" feature. The printing may be slower and it is possible that you may get a small amount of distortion with patterned backgrounds or photos right at the edge. You have to specifically choose the borderless printing option in the print dialog box and it may work better on some printers than others.

The inkjet and multifunction printers in this chart all include print-to-the-edge technology. This isn't an exhaustive list but it shows that there are many inkjet and multifunction printers out there that will do borderless printing, from many different manufacturers. Check the Product Details for each device to be sure you are getting borderless printing.


Manufacturer Printers With Borderless Printing Reviews
Brother Compare Prices on MFC-J5910DW All-in-One
Compare Prices on MFC-5895CW Multifunction

Compare Prices on more Brother printers and accessories

All-in-Ones | Inkjets
Canon Compare Prices on PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II Inkjet
Compare Prices on PIXMA MG8220 All-in-One

Compare Prices on more Canon printers, multifunction printers, and accessories

All-in-Ones | Inkjets
Epson Compare Priceson Artisan 837 Multifunction (Review)
Compare Prices on Workforce 635 Multifunction
Compare Prices on Stylus Pro 3880 Large Format Inkjet

Compare Prices on more Epson printers, all-in-ones, and accessories

All-in-Ones | Inkjets
HP (Hewlett-Packard) Compare Prices on Officejet Pro 8600
Compare Prices on Officejet 6700 Premium
Compare Prices on Officejet Pro 8900 N811A Inkjet

Compare Prices on other HP printers and printing supplies

All-in-Ones | Inkjets
Kodak Compare Prices on Hero 9.1 All-in-One
Compare Prices on EasyShare 2170 All-in-One

Compare Prices on more Kodak printers and supplies

All-in-Ones | Inkjets
Lexmark Compare Prices on Office Edge Pro 5500
Compare Prices on Pro 915 All-in-One

Compare Prices on more Lexmark printers and accessories

All-in-Ones | Inkjets

Option 2: Use scissors or a paper trimmer to trim the non-printing area off your document after printing. This might be fine if you only have one or two greeting cards to print but for larger quantities that's a lot of extra work. However, if you have a quality paper trimmer it's certainly doable.

Explore Paper Trimmers as an alternative to using pre-perforated papers.

Option 3: Design for smaller sizes. Easier said than done, I know. With the typical 10-up business card stock you often do have enough room to create business cards with bleeds. The non-printing area falls into the perforated area that is removed from around each card. But much of the postcard and greeting card stock readily available uses a full sheet of paper and leaves no room for a bleed. There are a few alternatives, however.

Design a smaller document then do as described for Option 2. That is, cut off the non-printing areas. Your document is then smaller and you can have those bleed but, as I said above, this might not be feasible for more than 1 or 2 cards.

Instead of the typical half-fold greeting cards that are simply a sheet of letter size paper folded in half, shop for card stock designed for slightly smaller cards. These allow you to print to the edge of the pre-perforated paper and slightly beyond then tear off the perforated edges so that you are left with a greeting card that's a little smaller than a folded letter size card but still a nice size greeting card. These are typically listed as "print-to-the-edge" greeting cards. When you have a large quantity to do or if you're just not adept at cutting straight lines this will give you your bleeds with a desktop printer.

Compare Prices on Print-to-Edge Greeting Card Paper. This paper gives you a greeting card that is 5" x 7" (after folding) instead of the 5.5" x 8.5" you would have with typical half-fold greeting cards printed on letter size paper.

Compare Prices on Avery Print-to-the-Edge products including round labels, arched labels, glossy business cards, and 4"x6" postcards (2 to a page).

Layouts that bleed off the edge aren't limited to commercial printing if you use one or more of the options described above.

Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started: Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software: Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Tips & Tutorials: How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs: Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing

Readers Respond: Creative Use of a Desktop Laser, Inkjet, or All-in-One Printer

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