Do you bleed?

Lets talk about bleeds.  Not bleeding… like bloody messy bleeding.  I’m talking about your design bleeding… you know, off the edge of the paper.  See, most people don’t understand that ink can’t magically run off of the edge of a sheet of paper.  Think about it like this, if the ink goes all the way to the edge, there must be a portion of the ink that falls off the edge right?  So where would it go?  See, that’s the where the problem is.  The ink that runs off the edge does have to go somewhere, and unfortunately, technology hasn’t provided a good place for it to go at this point.  So until a better answer reveals itself, here’s how we do it.

Let’s start with this template:

The size of a standard business card is 2″ x 3.5″ (inches) but you should make your document size 2.25″ x 3.75″. This will allow us to cut of .125″ off of all four sides of the business card.  So your background color, or image can go all the way to the edge (the red line) of your document, but you have to remember that we will be cutting some of it off, so mind your margins. Oh ya, margins… you might be one of the folks that wants to squeak every possible square millimeter out of the available real estate out of your business card. If so, i need you to take a break.  A business card with improper margins screams, “I designed my own business card, because I’m to cheap to pay a professional, and that makes me unprofessional as well!”  So, mind your margins!  I don’t mind if you design your own business  card, just follow the rules, and make it look professional.  The minimum distance from the edge of the card (the red line) and any edges of your text, or images that you want on the card (the blue line) needs to be at least .1875″ (3/16″).  I personally think that .25″ (1/4″) looks even better.

So if you do everything right your business cards should look like this:

See those little lines at the corners?  We call those, “Crop Marks”.  They are the cutting guidelines that we use.  They are guidelines, not set in stone.  That way, if something looks un-balanced, we can use some of the bleed to fix a visual problem.  If you made your document the right size, we have 1/8″ to play with!

Here are some incorrect versions of the same card.

The first one has crop marks but no bleed.  If you connect the lines from side to side, and top to bottom, you’ll see that if we cut those lines it would be right on the edge of the card.  The down side to this would be that we either have to cut a little into the card, making it smaller than a standard size business card, or we risk having a tiny white line, on one or more of the sides of the card.  Either of those options would be ugly, and unprofessional.

This is an example of the most common file that we receive from customers.  The document size is exactly 2″ x 3.5″, with no bleeds or crop marks.  We can live without crop marks, as long as you tell us how much bleed you put in the the file.  But you have to build in bleed.  We can’t just scale it larger, because that messes up the margins.

So the moral of the story is, either follow the rules when designing your own business card, or hire a professional designer to do it for you.  Oh ya by the way, if the professional designer doesn’t know these rules, make sure they get a link to this blog, you’ll save us a bunch of time, and help them be more “professional”!   😉

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