How to Achieve Full Bleed Printing From a Desktop Printer

How to do edge to edge, borderless printing

Are there printers with borderless printing?

Rawpixel / Pixabay

A bleed occurs when portions of artwork such as backgrounds, photos, and graphics go to the edge of the finished document. This bleed effect is achieved in commercial printing processes by printing the document on a sheet of paper that is larger than the document. This extends the background or bleed objects beyond the edge with a 1/8 inch bleed allowance. The document is then cut to the final trim size.

With desktop printers, you can do bleeds with some types of specialty papers such as business cards that have extra space around the print area. For larger documents that use a full sheet of paper, you may not be able to print a bleed on the sheet.

How to Print to the Edge of a Document

There are ways to get around desktop printer limitations:

  1. Choose the right printer. Buy a printer that allows for bleeds or find out if your printer has a borderless setting. There are desktop printers that print to the edge of the paper or have a borderless printing feature. The printing may be slower and there may be a small amount of distortion with patterned backgrounds or photos along the edge of the paper. When you print the document, choose the borderless printing option in the Print dialog box.

  2. Print on large paper and trim to size. Print the document on paper that's larger than the document. Then use scissors or a paper trimmer to remove the unprinted portion of the paper and trim the paper to the desired size. For more professional results or when you have several pages to trim, use a quality paper trimmer.

    Add crop marks to the document. Crop marks print on the paper along the outside edge of the document. Cut along the crop marks to trim the document properly.

  3. Choose the right paper. There are specialty papers for greeting cards and other projects that allow for bleeds. These are typically listed as print-to-the-edge cards. When you have a large quantity to do or if you're not adept at cutting straight lines, this gives you bleeds with a desktop printer.

    For example, instead of buying half-fold greeting cards that are a sheet of letter-size paper folded in half, shop for card stock with perforated areas designed for slightly smaller cards. Most printers will print to the edge of the pre-perforated paper and slightly beyond. When you tear off the perforated edges, you'll have a card that's a little smaller than a folded letter-size card.

  4. Design for smaller sizes. With some 10-up business card, postcard, and greeting card papers, there's room to create cards with bleeds. The non-printing area falls into the perforated area that is removed from each card. If the card stock doesn't leave room for a bleed, design a smaller document. Print the document with crop marks on a full-size sheet, then trim to size, using the crop marks as your trim guide.

How to Find Printers with Borderless Printing

The inkjet, photo, and multifunction printers in the following list include print-to-the-edge technology. This isn't an exhaustive list but it shows that there are many printers that do borderless printing. Check the product details for each device for the borderless printing size specifications.

Brother

Canon

Epson

HP

Kodak

Lexmark

  • X4550 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer
  • Pro915 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer