How To Create a Photoshop Document For Printing


Creating graphical document for printing is a significantly different process than creating the same looking document for viewing/sharing on the computer screen. This is due to a difference between technology used by printing machine and computer monitor.




If we want to create a new print-ready document in Photoshop, these are the major things we need to pay attention to resolution, color mode, bleeds (bleed area).


Standard Resolution for pre-press documents is 300 dpi (dots-per-inch). This means that every square inch of the document contains 60000 dots – pixels (300 x 300).  Since an average monitor displays 76 dpi (5776 pixels per square inch), document for printing will always look much larger on the computer screen then it will be on the paper.


Color mode

Color mode for pre-press documents must always be set to CMYK.  It is a color system used by printing machines and refers to cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). It displays color information a little bit different then the other modes used for viewing and sharing documents via computer screen, such as RGB mode (red, green and blue) .

One of the most common mistakes in Graphic Design is using wrong color mode for printing documents. The result is a significantly different look between printed document and the same document viewed on computer screen.  CMYK color mode allows as to see how computer colors will look when printed on the paper.



Every document must include some extra space around the edges before going into the printing machine. This extra space is called a Bleed Area, and should be 0.125 inches on all sides. This space will be cut off during the trimming process, so it shouldn’t contain any important graphical or textual information.


Starting a new Photoshop document

OK, lets say we need to design a Business Card. The standard size for this kind of document is 3.5 x 2 inches. Start Photoshop and wait until it loads. Go to File menu and select New, or simply press CTRL+NNew document window will appear. Enter following values and click OK:

Photoshop New Document Business Card


Creating a bleed area with guide lines

Turn on the rulers around the document by pressing CTRL+R. Go to View and make sure Snap option is turned on. Also go into the View/Snap To submenu and select only Guides and Document Bounds. Create 4 guides snapped to the document bounds. To create a guide in Photoshop you must press left mouse button on white ruller space and move towards the document area. The Guide will be created and when you come close to the document’s bound it will snap to the edge. This is how it should look:

Four Guides


Now go to Image drop down menu and select Canvas Size… or simply press ALT+CTRL+C. This will bring Canvas Size window which will allow us to expand the size of the document without disturbing its content (guides in this case). Enter 3.75 inches for width and 2.25 inches for height and press OK button. This is what you’ll get:

Photoshop Document With Bleeds


Now you are ready to make your design. As you can assume, working area is inside the guide lines, while everything between the document edge and guide lines is a bleed area, and will be cut off in trimming process. During the work, you can easily switch on/off guide lines by pressing CTRL+; 

Keep in mind that paper trimming process isn’t always very accurate, so do not place important graphical or textual elements too close to the bleed area. The best practice is to distance these at least 0.125 inches from the bleed area, as shown on the example below:

Photoshop Printing Document Rules


Alternative titles:

How To Set-up a New Printing Document In Photoshop?
How To Create a Bleeds In Photoshop?
How To Make a Pre-press Photoshop Document?
Creating a Bleed Space In Photoshop Document
Photoshop Document Rules For Printing
What Is The Printing Resolution In Photoshop?

What Color Mode Should Be Used For Print?
What Is the CMYK Color Mode In Photoshop?