Full Bleed

Bleed is a term in printing describing a document with images, lines, or color that extends to the edge of the page. All files uploaded and printed on Lulu are created to bleed specifications. Images, text, or other elements that are intended to extend to the edge of the page must fill the bleed area, 0.125 in (3.18 mm) past the trim edge on every side as a border is trimmed from the printed book pages during manufacturing. 


If a file is uploaded without a bleed margin, Lulu must add a 0.125 in (3.18 mm) margin on all sides to allow proper trimming and binding. Any document requiring full bleed but submitted at the wrong page size will result in white margins when the book is printed.


Text and other important elements should be placed within the Safety Margin which is 0.5 in (12.7 mm) inside the Trim Edge. This will ensure that no text is cut off due to variation in the trimming process. 


Book Interior Setup

When creating your book interior with Lulu, you must provide a single-page, print-ready PDF containing all interior elements (all pages, images, and any front matter/back matter). Your file must include bleed if any page contains content intended to extend to the trim edge. For example, a 6 x 9 in (152 mm x 229 mm) US Trade book is created slightly larger at 6.25 x 9.25 in (159 mm x 235 mm) as the bleed is centered 0.125 in (3.18 mm) around the finished page size. The excess 0.125 in (3.18 mm) on all sides is trimmed prior to binding. See the image below:



Interior File with Bleed Specifications:

  • Page size must be 0.25 in (6.35 mm) larger in both width and height than the book size. 
    • Example: 6 x 9 in (152 mm x 229 mm) book requires a PDF with pages sized 6.25 x 9.25 in (159 mm x 235 mm).
  • Interior is output as one single-page, print-ready PDF with all pages included and sized the same.
  • Crop marks or registration marks should not be included.
  • If your book is intended for distribution, any text within an image must be positioned at least 0.5 in (12.7 mm) from the edge of the finished page size.
  • Although we make every effort to provide high-quality, consistently produced books, there can be slight variations from press to press in the trim size of your work. Allow for a printing trim variance of 0.125 in (3.17 mm).


Common issues:

  • Improper bleed may result in a white strip or important content cut off at the edge of the page.
  • Multiple-page spreads should be separated into single pages. We cannot print spread-layout PDFs.
  • Pages should be set up as portrait orientation (if you choose to make a landscape book, the pages should still be oriented as portrait and the page size should be adjusted based on the book dimensions selected).
  • When creating a PDF from Word, set pages to portrait not landscape.




Full Bleed Interior Setup in Adobe InDesign

To create your document using bleed prior to adding content:

  1. Start a new document in InDesign and set the page size for the size of the book you are creating. Note that these dimensions should not include bleed - you'll handle that on step 2.
  2. Select the Print tab.
  3. Click Bleed and Slug to expand the panel. Enter 0.125 in (3.17 mm) in the four bleed boxes and click OK. You may have to click the More Options button to see the Bleed and Slug boxes.
  4. Create your book interior adding graphics and text where needed. Any artwork that needs to be full bleed needs to extend to the red line. The page will be trimmed at the black line.


To adjust the pages to allow for bleed or edit the bleed settings:

  1. Click File.
  2. Select Document Setup.
  3. Select Bleed and Slug to expand the panel.
  4. Enter or adjust your bleed settings.


When adding your images and colors to the document, be sure to snap the object to the bleed guideline. For recommendations on exporting your interior print pdf from Adobe InDesign, please see our InDesign help article.


For information on creating your interior print-ready pdf, please review our instructions here.


Book Cover Setup

When creating your book cover with Lulu, you must provide a single cover-page spread, print-ready pdf containing the back cover, spine (Paperback or Hardcover), and front cover. This file must include 0.125 in (3.18 mm) bleed around the outside of the entire cover. 

For example, a 6 x 9 in (152 mm x 229 mm) US Trade Paperback book that contains 326 pages will have a book cover document sized 13.044 (331 mm) in x 9.25 in (235 mm). The back cover (6.125 in), spine (0.794 in), and front cover (6.125 in) are created as a single document with bleed to give us this total dimension. The excess 0.125 in (3.18 mm) on all sides is trimmed prior to binding resulting in a printed cover measuring 12.794 in (325 mm) x 9 in (229 mm). See the image below:











Cover File with Bleed Specifications:

  • Cover is output as a single cover-page spread, print-ready pdf containing back cover, spine, and front cover with bleed.
  • Crop marks or registration marks should not be included
  • Although we make every effort to provide high-quality, consistently produced books, there can be slight variations from press to press in the trim size of your work. Allow for a printing trim variance of 0.125 in (3.17 mm).


For information on creating your interior print-ready pdf, please review our instructions here.