How to Add Bleed in Illustrator CC

Learn how to add bleed in Illustrator CC in a matter of seconds, with both a new and an existing document, and get into the habit of setting up your Illustrator documents the right way.

Bleed is a hugely important part of the print process, but is often overlooked. If you work directly in Illustrator, luckily the program makes it incredibly simple to add and change bleed, and include it in your exported documents.

Add Bleed in Illustrator

How to Add Bleed in Illustrator CC

Video Tutorial

Use my quick and easy video tutorial to watch me demonstrate adding bleed in Illustrator, and follow along at your own pace.


Step-by-Step Tutorial

Add Bleed to New Document

Step 1 – With Illustrator CC open, go to file > new.

Step 2 – Select a print document, set your dimensions and units of measurement, and under the bleed section, you can add bleed to the top, bottom, left, and right of the document.

Click the link button to the right of the four boxes to link them, so that adding bleed to one side will add the same to all four. Click create.

Your newly created Illustrator artboard will now have bleed.

Add Bleed to Existing Document

Step 3 – If you already have a document open and would like to add bleed, go to file > document setup.

Step 4 – In document setup under general, you can add or change the top, bottom, left, and right bleed settings. As with a new document, click the link button to add the bleed to all four sides in one go. Once ready, click ok.

You will now have bleed added to your document.

Step 5 – At any time, you can change or remove the bleed by going to file > document setup and revisiting the bleed options.

Export an Artboard or Document with Bleed

Step 6 – It is important that the edges of your artwork exceed the edges of your artwork to at least the bleed line. Check to see where the edges of your artwork are on the canvas.

Step 7 – If needed, adjust the artwork using selection, direction selection, or whatever tool required to exceed the artboard edge to the bleed line, like below.

Step 8 – When it is time to export, whatever you are exporting as, make sure you add bleed lines or crop marks. For example, if exporting for screens, go to file > export > export for screens.

Step 9 – In the export for screens menu, make sure that include bleed is checked before you export.

Step 10 – If instead you’re saving, say, as a print PDF, go to file > save as and select Adobe PDF from the save type options.

Step 11 – Once the save box appears, go to marks and bleeds and make sure use document bleed settings is checked, along with any printer or crop marks you would like before you click save PDF.


Unlike in Photoshop, adding bleed in Illustrator is far more straightforward. Whether you are setting up a new document, or already working in one, adding bleed can be done in a matter of seconds.

Don’t give the printer any potential problems further down the line. Spend a little extra time setting up your documents the right way, and you should have no issues when it comes to sending your beautiful artwork to print.

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