Designing in Publisher Adding BleedFollowing a previous article on page layout in Publisher, we look at how to set bleed on your publisher document in order to prepare it for commercial printing.

So what exactly is ‘bleed’?

If you intend to send your publication to a commercial printer, you will probably need to add bleed and crop marks to your design. Essentially the bleed area is an additional border area outside the borders of your publication where your background colour is extended and then the final document is trimmed in order for colours on your page to be printed right to the edge and avoid a white border around the edge.

Do you really need it?

Well this depends on the nature of your design (and hence why it’s very important to plan your design before you start!). If you are just printing at home and don’t mind a white border around the edge of your design, then the answer is no. Or if your have a white background anyway, with no colors, text or graphics touching the edge of your page, then the answer is no. However, if you are going to use a commercial print company and have a coloured background, or images and blocks of colour extending to the edges of your design, then you will want to include bleed and most print companies will insist on it for the best quality finish.

So how do you add bleed?

First of all, check with your print company for exact specifications. The usual is about 1/8″ (0.125″) border all the way around your page, so if you are working with a postcard 14.85cm x 10.5cm then your extended bleed area should measure 15.5cm x 11.15cm



First of all set the page size that you want your document to be (see part 1 for information on selecting a template or page size) and then turn on layout guides and boundaries so that you have a guideline of the size of your actual finished design. Do this by selecting View > Layout tab > Tick the boxes for ‘Boundaries and ‘Guides’Pub_Bleed2

Next you need to adjust your graphics to create your bleed. Do this by extending any graphics or blocks of colour that were touching the original document edges, and extend them out to the new edges of the document. You need to be aware that if your images are .JPG files, or a photograph that if you resize them, they will stretch and/or may become pixelated. Where this is the case you need to move the image, rather than resize it, and use a larger image or  the crop tool to get the effect that you need.


Note: Your fold lines will not change, so only extend the graphics touching the edges of the document, everything else should stay the same. You need to repeat this for all pages in your document


Once you are finished, return the document size to the original page size. You will see that you now have 1/8” of each graphic extending past the document edge, and this is the area known as the bleed area.

Remember that everything in the bleed area will be trimmed off after printing, and won’t be part of the final design, so bear this in mind when designing your publication!