In this article, we'll explore how to work with printer marks and bleeds, ensuring your designs look flawless when printed. We'll cover everything from showing or hiding printer marks to adjusting bleed size to meet your project's specific requirements.

Table of Contents

The Importance of Printer Settings

Before diving into the printer marks and bleeds settings, let's understand why these settings are crucial. When you send your design off to a printing company, they need precise instructions. Printer marks and bleeds play a vital role in this process.

Here are some common use cases for printer marks:

Crop Marks

Crop marks are like guiding stars for the printing company. They indicate where to cut the paper to achieve the desired size. For example, if you're editing a book template, crop marks ensure that each page will be the exact size you intended. Without them, you might end up with inconsistent page sizes or awkwardly trimmed edges.

Image showing crop marks

Registration Marks

These marks ensure that different ink colors align perfectly, avoiding misregistration and color shifts. When you're designing a colorful brochure or a vibrant magazine, registration marks ensure that your colors pop as intended, maintaining the quality and consistency of your design.

Color Bars

Color bars are used for color calibration. They help the printing company ensure that the colors in your design match the colors in their system. This is particularly important for corporate materials like business cards or flyers, where brand colors need to be precise.

Page Information

Page information can include page numbers, titles, and other information unique to each page. These details are important for multi-page documents like magazines or proposals, helping the printer assemble the pages in the correct order.

Now, let's explore the concept of bleeds:


Bleeds are the secret to achieving a professional and polished look. When you have images or colors that extend to the very edge of the paper, bleeds ensure that there are no unprinted edges. For example, in a brochure, if you want an image to cover the entire background, bleeds prevent any white edges from showing. This is particularly important for designs that require full-bleed images or backgrounds.

1. Show or Hide Printer Marks

When preparing your design for printing, you often need to include printer marks like crop marks, bleed marks, registration marks, color bars, and page information. You can do this in InDesign's Export Panel. Here's how you can show or hide these marks:

1. Go to 'File' and choose 'Export…'.

2. In the new window, select a location on your device to save the PDF and set the 'Format' to 'Adobe PDF (Print)'. Click 'Save' to confirm.

3. Another window will appear. Navigate to the 'Marks and Bleeds' option in the side menu. Here, you can select the printer marks you need.

For more detailed information on printer marks, you can read this Adobe article.

2. Adjusting Bleed Size

Proper bleed size is crucial to avoid any white edges or incomplete designs when your project goes to print. Here's how you can adjust the size of bleeds in Adobe InDesign:

1. Go to 'File' and choose 'Document Setup…'.

2. In the new window, you can set the document's bleed size to match the requirements of your project. Click 'OK' to confirm the changes.

In the EU, a common standard for bleed size is 3mm (approximately 0.12 inches), while in the US, the standard bleed size is often 1/8 inch (approximately 0.125 inches). These slight variations cater to regional measurement systems and are essential to ensure precise trimming and professional-looking printed materials. Please note that bleed sizes may vary due to printer company specifics.


Understanding when and how to use printer marks enables you to create professional, polished designs that leave a lasting impression.

Remember, whether you're guiding a printing company on how to trim your book's pages or ensuring your brochure's background image spans edge to edge, printer marks and bleeds are your trusted allies. Mastering these settings elevates your DIY design game, making your projects stand out with precision and professionalism.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know which printer marks to include for my project?

A: The printer marks you need depend on your printing company's requirements. You can usually find this information in their guidelines or by consulting with them directly. Commonly used marks include crop marks and bleed marks (3mm for EU printers and 0.125inch for US printers) for ensuring accurate trimming and finishing.

Q: What's the standard bleed size for most print projects?

A: The standard bleed size is typically 1/8 inch (0.125 inches) or 3mm. However, it's essential to check with your printing company, as bleed size can vary depending on their equipment and processes.

Q: Are there any printer marks that I should always include?

A: Crop marks are almost always necessary as they indicate where the document should be trimmed. Registration marks are also common for aligning colors. However, specific requirements may vary, so it's best to check with your printer.

Q: Can I adjust bleed size for individual pages within a document?

A: Yes, you can adjust the bleed size for individual pages in Adobe InDesign. When setting up a document with multiple pages, you can customize the bleed settings for each page separately in the 'Document Setup' window.

Q: How do I add color bars and page information to my printer marks?

A: To add color bars and page information, you can do so through the 'Marks and Bleeds' options in the export settings. Adobe InDesign provides options for adding these elements when you configure your printer marks.

Q: What is the purpose of bleed marks in printing?

A: Bleed marks ensure that the color or design of your printed document extends all the way to the edge of the paper. They allow for variations in the printing and trimming process, ensuring that there are no white edges on the final product.

Q: Can I save different export settings for various projects?

A: Yes, Adobe InDesign allows you to save export presets, so you can quickly apply specific settings to different projects. This can save you time when preparing documents for print.

Q: How do I check if my printer marks are correctly positioned?

A: It's a good practice to double-check your printer marks by exporting a sample or draft of your document. Review the printed copy to ensure the marks are positioned as needed before finalizing your print job.

Q: Are there any precautions to take when working with printer marks and bleeds?

A: Always confirm the specific requirements with your printing company. Additionally, be mindful of the file size when including detailed printer marks, as it may affect the overall document size.

Q: Can I remove printer marks for digital projects that won't be printed?

A: Yes, if your project is digital and won't be printed, you can exclude printer marks from the export settings. This can help keep your digital files cleaner and more streamlined.