Set up Bleeds in Adobe InDesign

How to Set up Bleeds in Adobe InDesign

Here is an image that illustrates how bleeds should (and should not) appear in your final PDF:

Bleeds Right and Wrong

 

Now that you can see an example of how bleeds should look in your final document, here are the steps to set up bleeds using Adobe InDesign:

1A) If you are creating a new document (File, New Document…), click on “Bleed and Slug” (as indicated by the red arrow in the illustration below). If you are modifying an existing document, see (1C) below. Set the Width and Height to the desired finished size of your piece.InDesign - New Document

 

1B) When you click to expand “Bleed and Slug” you will reveal the bleed and slug measurements. Set the four values for Bleed to 0.125 in (1/8th of an inch).

InDesign - New Document - Bleed

 

1C) If you have an existing document, click File, Document Setup… Clicking “Bleed and Slug” will show the following. Then set the four values for Bleed to 0.125 in (1/8th of an inch).

InDesign - Document Setup - Bleed

 

2) Now that you have set the bleed margin properly, look at this example (below) that illustrates the proper and improper use of trim and bleed margins.

  1. Bleed Line – the red bleed line indicates where your photos, illustrations, and objects must extend to in order for your document to have proper bleeds. In this case, the mustard colored box at the top must extend to the left, top, and right (not shown) bleed line.
  2. Trim Line – the black trim line indicates where the document’s final cut will be, and this will be the edge of your finished piece.
  3. Correct Placement of Text – be sure to place text (and other objects) that you don’t want to bleed at least 1/8″ inside the trim line to avoid the possibility of these elements from being unintentionally clipped during cutting.
  4. Photos that Bleed – extend photos beyond the trim line and all the way to the bleed line.
  5. Non-Bleeding Object – Once again, be sure to place text (and other objects) that you don’t want to bleed at least 1/8″ inside the trim line to avoid the possibility of these elements from being unintentionally clipped during cutting.
  6. Improperly Bleeding Object – DO NOT place objects right up against the trim line. These objects will most likely not bleed or will be clipped during cutting. This is the opposite of a proper bleed setup!

Bleed Layout Example

 

3) Once you are done designing your document (and now that you have properly set up your document for bleeds), click File and then Adobe PDF Presets or Export… A file save prompt should appear. Save your PDF file to a location that is easy to locate and give your file an appropriate name.

InDesign - File Export

 

4) The Export Adobe PDF window will appear. This is the last step in the PDF exporting process. Set the following:

  1. Adobe PDF Preset – choose an appropriate PDF preset. It’s recommended that you choose “AD-VantageMarketing” or “Press Quality” (built-in to Adobe products) to produce a file with proper resolution and color. The “AD-VantageMarketing” settings will produce the highest quality. If you don’t see “AD-VantageMarketing” as an option, then you need our AD-VantageMarketing.joboptions file. You can get it here (right click the link and Save As…). If you need to know how to install the .joboptions file, see our guide here (Install an Adobe .joboptions File).
  2. Marks and Bleeds – click this to show the settings for marks and bleeds.
  3. Crop Marks – check Crop Marks and leave the other values at their default.
  4. Use Document Bleed Settings – IMPORTANT: be sure to check this box, otherwise all of your effort to create proper bleeds will be ignored when producing the final PDF.

5) The resulting file should be a PDF with properly formatted bleeds. Now is the time to send us the PDF file and we’ll look it over for you. You can use our web-based upload here or attach it to an email.

If you require additional help with artwork, see our Artwork Guidelines. If you want to know how to set up bleeds using other software, see our help articles regarding How to Set up Bleeds.