Getting It Right With Postcard Design Templates
Full bleeds, safe areas, and cut lines - it can sound like a scene from a horror movie, right? Well, it can definitely turn into a horror story if you're trying to print your own postcard and don't know what these terms mean.
If you plan on using a design template for your next direct mail advertising postcards project, then it's high time to learn the lingo that these templates use. Better yet, let's walk through the entire process and everything will start to make sense.
In the old days (think five years ago), when you wanted to set up a fast postcard direct mailing, you would need somebody with a little graphic design know-how. Now, we're fortunate to have a seemingly infinite number of design templates that make it possible to skip the middle man (and their costs) for simple design work and get your postcard ideas for marketing into the mail in a minimum amount of time. Sound easy? Not so fast, partner. There's more to it than uploading an image and sending it off to the printer. This is where those scary terms come into play.
For most postcard ideas, the best appearance will come when your design extends to the very edge. However, just a single millimeter during the cutting process can leave a tiny white space that drastically alters how the postcard looks. When using a design template, your outermost printing limit will be the bleed line, usually indicated by a dashed line. Even though you know it's going to disappear after the cut, your postcard design should extend to this bleed line. This is called a full bleed and prevents those unsightly white lines from showing up on your finished product.
Moving inwards from the bleed line, the next line that will show up on the design template is called a cut line. As the name implies, this is where the printer should make the cut. If you're using the standard size of 4.5"x5.5", then the interior of the cut line should be 5.5" long and 4.5" high. The same idea is true for any size postcard you're planning to print.
In a perfect world, there would be no need for a safe area, but even the best printers can make a slight mistake from time to time. Past the full bleed and cut line, the safe area line will delineate where all the actual information on the postcard should go. No text or integral part of the image should extend past the safe area.
Not every postcard mailing service will have all three of these lines, but most will contain at least two in their design templates. After you've uploaded your image into the template of your choice, pay close attention to how it aligns with the bleed, cut, and safe area lines. Rest assured that these lines are only present in the design process and will not show up when your postcards are actually printed.
So, now you know about the basics of postcard templates. No longer will will these terms inspire grotesque images of blood and gore - instead, they will bring the cheerful idea of a happy customer opening their mailbox to find your perfectly-designed postcard.