226 52nd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11220

Tel.: (212) 349-1233/4545 - Fax: (212) 406-7074


What are Bleeds & Crop marks?

A terrific printed piece begins with properly prepared files. At Nova, we accept files prepared with most of today's popular software packages but the majority of our customers prefer to provide us with a PDF.

When providing a PDF, one of the most important aspects of your file preparation is accurate bleeds and crop marks. What are bleeds and crop marks?

Here is an example of a typical order supplied by the client. They would like the card to measure 5" x 7" and print in PMS 300 (blue), with the color extending to the very edge of the card (bleed).

In order for this card to print properly, the client's PDF should indicate crop marks (where the card should be trimmed), with the color extending beyond the crop marks by 1/8" (bleed). Instead, this file contains neither bleed nor crop marks. Therefore, Nova has no way of telling the finished size of the card, if the card should bleed or whether a white border should print around the edge of the card.

In this sample, the client provided a PDF for the same card with bleed added. This file provides a 1/8" border indicating the bleed, making the overall size of the card 5-1/4 x 7-1/4. The problem here is that there are no crop marks. Without crop marks, Nova has no way of knowing the where to trim the final card.

In our next example, we see the same holiday card with crop marks but there is no bleed. The problem with this is that when we cut the card, in order to bleed, the final card will end up undersized. If the card is not trimmed undersized, then there will be a tiny bit of white space along the edges.

In our final sample, we see the same card now with correct bleeds and crop marks. The crop marks clearly show where the card should be trimmed. The color extends beyond the crop marks indicating that the blue ink should print to the edge of the card.

You can click on each sample card illustration to download the full image.

If you have any questions on how to prepare a file for Nova, please contact Lance in our Art Department @ 212-349-1233.

In this example, we show the enlarged upper right corner of the card. The version on the left is incorrect showing the crop marks touching each other. The example on the right shows the correct crop marks in position with the proper spacing. If your software package allows you to set how much that distance or space on the crop marks, you should set it to .0833". Proper size and placement of the crop marks is important because, when not done correctly the crop marks will show up in the final piece.