Any time an object (photo, graphic, line, etc.) goes all the way to the document edge, we actually need you to extend it BEYOND the edge of the document by 1/8 inch (0.125). This is a standard requirement in the printing industry. The reason for this requirement is that it’s pretty much impossible, when finally trimming a document after printing, folding and/or binding, to trim exactly on the document edge.  However, if the image extends past the document edge by at least 1/8 inch, that gives us a little margin of error  when trimming. If images stop at the document edge and the document gets trimmed slightly beyond the document edge, there will be a thin white line down the edge of the document.

Adobe InDesign

Some page layout programs, such as Adobe InDesign, allow you to set up bleeds as part of the document setup. This can be done either when creating a new document, or after you have already created the document and realize after the fact that your document needs bleed.

When creating a new document in InDesign, you will be presented with a dialog similar to the one shown below (you will also get a similar dialog when choosing File>Document Setup in an existing document). If you do not see the settings for bleed and slug, click the “More Options” button (below the “Save Preset” button). If you are working in decimal inches, you should use a setting of 0.125. If you are working in picas, you should use a setting of 0p9.

Bleed setup in InDesign

After clicking "OK" you will now see a bleed guide around the document edge on every page of your document. Any object that touches the document edge should be moved so that it touches the bleed guide, as shown below.

correct bleed positioning

The image below shows an object placed on the document edge instead of being moved out to the bleed guide. This positioning is incorrect.

incorrect bleed positioning

Make sure when you export the document to PDF that you go to the "Marks and Bleeds" tab of the export dialog and check "Use Document Bleed Settings" as shown below.

InDesign bleed settings

Other Layout Programs

A number of programs, such as CorelDraw and Microsoft Publisher, do not have bleed settings or bleed guides. In the case of CorelDraw, you can create guides around all edges that are 1/8 inch from the document edge, and use these as bleed guides. Publisher is a little more difficult because this program will not allow you to place guides outside the document edge. However, you could create lines using the Line tool and position these 1/8 inch from the document edges to use as temporary bleed guides, and then remove them before exporting the file. If exporting the document to PDF yourself, make sure you export to a page size that will include the items in the bleed area. So for example, if your document is 8.5 by 11 inches, the final output size will need to be 8.75 by 11.25 inches in order to accommodate the bleed. Publisher also has an “Allow Bleed” setting in some of its print and PDF export dialogs, which you will need to turn on, as shown below.

Publisher bleed export