Book formatting is a cumbersome process, and bleed is just one important part of the book publishing process.
"Bleed" is a printing term used to describe the part of your document where images or elements go the edge of the page, and extend beyond the trim, leaving no white margin. When a document has bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down to the correct size. If you are looking to have any images or background colors in your book run all the way to the edge of the page, your document must include bleed. If bleed is not present, pages will end up with a “flash” of the unprinted white sheet around the page edges after your pages are cut.
Proper bleed extends your images and background colors 1/8th of an inch beyond your trim measurement. Bleed is accounted for within all of the BookBaby template files we have on our site, including the Word templates.
A quick, and easy, way to tell if your files have bleed is to check the page size in your PDF. If the pages are .25” larger than the trim size, then you have bleed. If the pages are exactly the trim size, they do not have bleed.
If your files do not contain any elements that are supposed to go to the edge of the trimmed page (text only books, or intended unprinted borders around any images), then it is not crucial for you to include bleed on the content of your book. You will just notice that your proof does not display properly.
If you had bleed in your layout, but not your saved PDF, you may have not included the bleed when exporting your PDF. When you are exporting from InDesign, make sure to check “use document bleed settings” in the PDF export options and that should correct the issue.
Looking for other book printing tips? Check out our free guides!