Set Up Bleeds in Microsoft Publisher

Abstract image: kaleidoscopic image of bare tree branches against the sky.
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What Is a Bleed Allowance?

An object that bleeds in a page design extends right to the edge of the document. It could be a photo, an illustration, a ruled line or text. It can extend to one or more edges of the page. 

Because both desktop printers and commercial printing presses are imperfect devices, paper can shift ever so slightly during printing or during the trimming process when a document printed on large paper is trimmed to the final size. This shift can leave telltale white edges where there should be none. Photos that are supposed to go right to the edge have an unintended border on one or more sides.

A bleed allowance compensates for those tiny shifts by extending photos and other artwork in a digital file a small amount beyond the edges of the document. If there's a slip during printing or trimming, anything that was supposed to go to the edge of the paper still does.

A typical bleed allowance is 1/8th of an inch. For commercial printing, check with your printing service to see if it recommends a different bleed allowance.

Microsoft Publisher is not the best program for printing documents that bleed, but you can create the effect of a bleed by changing the paper size.

Note: These instructions work for Publisher 2016, Publisher 2013 and Publisher 2010.

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Setting Bleeds When Sending the File to a Commercial Printer

When you plan to send your document to a commercial printer, take these steps to generate the bleed allowance:

  1. With your file open, go to the Page Design tab and click Size > Page Setup.
  2. Under Page in the dialog box, enter a new page size that is 1/4 inch larger in both width and height. If your document is 8.5 by 11 inches, enter a new size of 8.75 by 11.25 inches.
  3. Reposition the image or any elements that should bleed so they extend to the edge of the new page size, keeping in mind that the outermost 1/8 inch will not appear on the final printed document.
  4. Return to Page Design > Size > Page Setup.
  5. Under Page in the dialog box, change the page size back to the original size. When the document is printed by a commercial printing company, any elements that are supposed to bleed will do so.
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Setting Bleeds When Printing on a Home or Office Printer

To print a Publisher document with elements that bleed off the edge on a home or office printer, set up the document to print on a sheet of paper that is larger than the finished printed piece and include crop marks to indicate where it trims.

  1. Go to the Page Design tab and click Page Setup.
  2. Under Page in the Page Setup dialog box, choose a paper size that is larger than your finished page size. For example, if your finished document size is 8.5 by 11 inches and your home printer prints on 11-by-17-inch paper, enter a size of 11 by 17 inches.

  3. Place any element that bleeds off the edge of your document so that it extends beyond the edges of the document by approximately 1/8 inch. Keep in mind that this 1/8 inch will not appear on the final trimmed document.

  4. Click File > Print, select a printer and then choose Advanced Output Settings.

  5. Go to the Marks and Bleeds tab. Under Printer's marks, check the Crop marks box.

  6. Select both Allow bleeds and Bleed marks under Bleeds.

  7. Print the file on the large size paper you entered in the Page Setup dialog box.

  8. Use the crop marks printed on each corner of the document to trim it to the final size.