Are you new to design for print? One of the things you may not be familiar with are the dimensions we attribute to artwork. In this short article, we’ll explain what they mean and how we use them in the world of printed publications.

  • Trim – this is the exact size of the publication. The 2 most frequently used sizes are A4 = 297mm x 210mm and A5 = 210mm x 148mm. Note that in the world of print, we use the Y axis before the X axis, which is the opposite of cartography, but we usually confirm the orientation with either ‘landscape’ or ‘portrait’ following on.
  • Bleed – we need 3mm added all round your page so for A4, our bleed dimensions are 303mm x 216mm
  • Critical Matter – we also refer to this as the ‘type area’ . We mean the area where you can safely place text within the page – for A4 we use 285mm x 198

Designers who are new to print often question why we need these considerations. It can be quite difficult to describe without the benefit of a print factory on hand, but we’ll try!

Production involves 3 principal processes: printing, folding and binding. All are executed with high precision, but there is always variation, however small. This variation translates into movement of the trim which is rarely obvious, but nevertheless means that there is potential for unsightly results.

  1. where text is placed close to the edge, there is risk that it may ‘move’ right up to the trim, or even partially cut off
  2. where there is no bleed, there is a risk that a white ‘line’ may appear on the edge of a page where the intention was to have a colour panel right up to the trim

There’s more to these margins where perfect bound work requires additional treatment in the spine but we’ll leave that for another post. If you need any support with your artwork prep, our studio team are always happy to help. Just give them a call on 01727 733263 or chat at 

Tagged with:

Leave a Reply