How to Add Bleed and Trim Marks in Adobe Illustrator

There are several different ways to add bleed and trim marks in Illustrator.

You can add bleed when creating a new document – to do this, go to the overhead menu and select File > New. You will see a new document window. Input the value in the bleed fields.

You can also add bleed at any point in your design. Go to the overhead menu and select File > Document Setup. To show the trim marks, check the Trim Marks option when you save the file as a PDF. 

Adding bleed and trim marks to your Illustrator document prevents white edges around it when printed and gives the printer a document-cutting guide.

Hi, I am Rita. I have been using Adobe Illustrator for over five years. In this article, I will show you how to add bleed and trim marks in Illustrator.

How to Add Bleed to a New Document in Illustrator

Let’s add bleed to a new document in Illustrator in a few simple steps. 

Step 1: Launch the Illustrator program and create a new document. To create a new document, go to the overhead menu and select File > New or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Command + N.

Step 2: Set up your document. Once you click New, a document settings window will open. Set up your document size or use the blank document presets.

Go to the bleed field and input the bleed value on all sides. If you are not sure of the exact value, you can use the standard deal – which is 0.125” on all sides. 

Note: Leaving the link icon means applying the exact bleed measurement on all sides. Unlinking allows you to set different side measurements to meet your preferences.  

Step 3: Click Create and you will see bleed marks around your artboard.

That’s it. You’ve added bleed to your new Illustrator document.

How to Add Bleed to an Existing Document in Adobe Illustrator

Did you need to add bleed to your document after creating your design? Or did you realize you need to change the bleed value? 

No problem!

You can add bleed at any point in your design process. Let’s add bleed to our existing document in a few simple steps.

Step 1: Go to the overhead menu and select File > Document Setup.

Step 2: Input your preferred bleed value in the field. 

Step 3: Click OK to apply the bleed to your Illustrator document.

You will see the bleed mark (which is the red rectangle box) around your artboard like this.

Note: Remember to extend the object you want to bleed beyond the red box, not just to the edge of the artboard.

How to Add Trim Marks in Illustrator

You may add a trim mark instead of a bleed or both to your document. Bleed and trim marks have different functions. 

Bleed is useful if you want your design to reach the end of the printed page without white margins. Trim, on the other hand, gives the printer the point to make a cutline.

It prevents the mistake of cutting off important aspects of the design.

You add Trim marks while saving your document. Let’s see how this works.

Since this is a print design, we will save it as a PDF and then apply bleed and trim marks, plus check other things to ensure our design is print-ready.

Let’s save our document in a few simple steps.

Step 1: Go to the overhead menu and select File > Save As. You will see the Save As window. Name your file, choose the location, and then select your preferred file format – which is Adobe PDF in this case.

Step 2: Click Save

Step 3: Select your preferred setting in the Adobe PDF save window. Choose your desired preset from the dropdown list. I will choose the Press Quality preset. Then go to the left menu bar and select Marks and Bleeds.

To add trim marks, check the trim mark box. Also, check the box that reads Use Document Bleed Settings”. It will automatically apply the bleed value you inputted earlier (either when you created the new document or from the document setup window).

Step 4: Click Save PDF to save all your settings. You can go back to open the file again to view the difference. 

Do you see the bleed and trim marks on our sample image?

That’s it! We have our image bleeding beyond the artboard and our trim marks to guide the printer when cutting the document. 


You’ve learned how to add bleed and trim marks in Illustrator. Let’s answer some questions you may find helpful.

When should I add bleed to my Illustrator document?

You should add bleed to your file when you want your design to extend to the edges of the artboard without leaving a white margin line. It simply means that you want the design to bleed through the edges.

Bleed refers to colors or objects stretched to reach the cutline (the red mark) so that the design can be printed to the edge of the paper.

What is the use of adding trim marks to documents in Illustrator?

The trim mark shows the cutline the printer will follow when cutting the paper. The trim mark ensures the printer cuts your intended size off – plus, it prevents the mistake of cutting off essential design elements.

Why should I save my document as a PDF for printing?

Saving your print file as PDF gives the printer all the information they need to print the document just how you want it. It ensures that all the design components are exact (font, colors, etc. )

Final Thought

Adding bleed and trim marks in Illustrator is easy by following the steps above. It is essential to add bleed if you want your design to get to the edges. 

Even though you can add bleed at different points in your design, I suggest you do it while creating a new document to avoid the hassle of adjusting the design elements when saving your file.

Do you have any questions?  Let us know in the comment box below.

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