What are crop marks?

What are crop marks? Why you need crop marks for print production

Col Graphic Design Leave a Comment

Have you ever wondered how a printer manages to accurately cut artwork to size and in such precise ways? It’s all done through the use of crop marks.

In the video below you will learn all about crop marks and how you can ensure that your artwork is always set up perfectly for the next time you send something off to be printed.

What are crop marks?

Transcript of video:

Today, we’re going to talk about crop marks.

Hi, everyone. It’s Col from Pixels Ink. In printing terms, crop marks are the lines that are placed at the corners of a page or on your artwork layout that show where the paper will be trimmed after the printing process is complete. As the crop marks show where the paper is to be trimmed, often you’ll hear people refer to them as trim lines or trim guides or trim marks. For the purposes of our video and for future videos, I will always refer to them as crop marks.

Crop marks are the crucial element to any piece of artwork that will be trimmed after the printing process. Generally, crop marks will be added using the software that you’ve used to create your original design, and they can be added manually or automatically. In a future video, I’ll be showing you how to do this using Adobe Illustrator software.

When your printer receives the artwork from you, it is printed onto paper which is larger than the document size that’s desired. Then using the crop marks placed onto the artwork, the printer will trim the document down to size. Here’s a quick example showing business card artwork with crop marks in place. You’ll see that the artwork of the business card extends past the crop marks, and this is what’s known as bleed. We’ll cover that in a future video.

Not all artwork, however, has bleed. Where there is no bleed, it’s even more important that you have crop marks included. Crop marks are extremely important to ensure the project is trimmed in the proper places and to the proper size. If you were to send your artwork to a printer with no crop marks on the artwork, then 1 of 2 things will happen. 1, the printer will contact you and ask you to resend the artwork with crop marks included, or 2, if they’re a good printer, what they will do is they will add the crop marks onto the artwork for you.

You can’t always rely on a printer doing that for you, though, so it is your responsibility to make sure crop marks are on there in the first place. In any case, whether you have to add the crop marks again yourself or the printer does that for you, then you’re going to be adding time onto the print turnaround. If you’ve got quite a tight deadline on your project, that could prove very troublesome for you.

It’s been quite a short video today, but I hope it’s been enough to give you an insight into what crop marks are and why they’re important on your finished piece of printed artwork. If you’ve enjoyed the video, please subscribe to my channel. Give the video a thumbs up like, and please if you’ve any comments or questions about crop marks, leave them in the comment section below, and I’ll be sure to answer each and every one of them for you. Until the next video, stay creative.