Stop the Bleeding: A Great Way to Reduce Print Costs

Melanie Kissing over at the Sustainable Printing blog gave 5 great ways to save money on printing costs. She’s got some great tips including using standard sheet sizes of paper, no bleeds, and printing double-sided.

Cutting the bleeds and using standard sheet sizes go hand in hand. Here’s why: a printer uses sheets that are any multiples of 8.5″ x 11″, with 17″ x 22″ being the most common. This allows a printer to run 4 copies of your piece on one sheet, and then cut them to size. It saves labor, click charges (the cost of running one impression through their printer), and lets them buy paper at a cheaper cost.

Let’s say your print job is an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet, which means the printer will get 4 sheets out of the 17″ x 22″ sheet. But you want a full bleed, which will cause your costs to go up.

That’s because the electronic document you’re going to provide your printer will be 1/2″ bigger than the sheet, or 9″ x 11.5″. And depending on how you lay it out, you can only get 2 sheets that size out of a 17″ x 22″. Which means the printer is going to get a non-standard size of paper, which means the costs will go up, which means your costs go up.

The easiest way to solve this is to do one of two things:

  1. Stop the bleed. Either use a white background, or live with a 1/4″ margin all the way around the page.
  2. 2) Use a solid color for the background. Avoid photos, patterns, and textures for backgrounds. Pick an all-black or all-blue or whatever color you prefer, and set the margins 1″ from the edge. This way, when the printer cuts the sheet, you avoid having a sliver of one sheet on the other, which is why most bleed projects need that extra half-inch.
  3. photo: Peretzpup


  1. Thanks so much for referencing my post! I'm glad you added point #2 about using a solid background. This is something I completely overlooked in all my posts on bleeds, but it is a great way to overlap the bleeds and reduce the amount of trimming needed, which reduces the wasted paper.
    By the way, my last name is Turner (Kissing was a partial of my maiden name).

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