What is Bleed?

Old Mate Media
 | Updated March 1, 2022

What is Bleed?

Old Mate Media
 | Updated March 1, 2022

Understanding bleed is essential when designing the artwork for your book. If you're self-publishing you must take into consideration bleed before you design your book.

Learn what bleed is, when bleed becomes an important factor and how to prepare your artwork for your designer in the video below. This blog post is an extension to the full guide we have on understanding full-bleed printing and how to design for bleed area.

Good day indie authors Chris Stead from Old Mate Media here and today I'm going to talk to you guys about bleed, what is it and what you have to think about when it comes to bleed. Now to start off with a quick important lesson I guess with bleed is it's not something you have to worry about with your digital books bleed is a print book focused thing digital books don't have to think about it, however if you're going to think about how you're going to save money you don't want to be doing different art anyway for your digital books and your print books so you pretty much got to apply it to everything that you do, but for print books this is where bleed comes.

Now any single time that you've got anywhere in your book internal of your book where the image goes right to the edge then you are a bleed book you have bleed in your book. If all of your images are like this one and they're internal and they're not near the edge by about I think it's 0.25 of an inch from the from the edge then you're a no bleed book and you don't have to worry about bleed so that's just one quick thing. Most children's books are going to have bleed some chapter books that have images, just about the chapter headings things like that, they may be not bleed but even if you just got one of them you're a bleed book. Now what bleed refers to is the when an image goes to the edge of the page, the image needs to go beyond the page. So I'll find another one here so as you can see here this image goes right to the edge of the page. Now when this is in a physical printing press it's a physical product and a printing press is a big machine that can move and shimmy about a little bit it can move slightly off its plate as it goes and you can if you don't have the if the image goes just to the edge and stops there if the plate moves a little bit and you get a little white line, okay, and that little white line is ugly and it looks like something's gone wrong with the printer or it's broken and it's just people don't want it. So to avoid that they've invented they have this thing called bleed.

So bleed means that your image doesn't stop at the edge when you're designing it into InDesign it actually continues an extra 0.125 of an inch which works out to about five millimeters or about 38 pixels at 300 dpi and you can check my video on 300 dpi to see what that means and it goes a little bit further, so when you're designing a book the book is actually not this is an 8.5 inch by 8.5 inch book but with including bleed it's 8.625 by 8.625 inch and this image actually goes further than what you can see and then gets cut at what's called the trim line. So, as a result, what you need to think about with when you're doing about bleed if you're preparing your own images for the book is you need to know that if your image goes to the edge of the page it's going to actually be extended, which means if you don't supply it ready for that as the designer I'm going to have to supply it otherwise Amazon and any printer is not going to accept your book. So, therefore don't put any important details right on the edge. So I mean this bird's a bit inside but if this bird for example was near the edge I wouldn't want the tip of its wing to go over into the bleed area. So when you think of your canvas of what you're doing with your art think of the outer rim outer 0.125 inches as not being visible and don't put any details in there that you need to worry about.

You also have to think about the fact that even with that extra 0.125 of an inch you still have to have a 300 dpi resolution on this image, right, so if you provide me with a 300 dpi image at this size and I have to extend it to get it to the bleed area then it's not going to be high enough resolution and the printer is going to knock it back, So if you don't have bleed building to images already, the images need to be supplied at higher than 300 dpi not much more like 320 or something like that just so that it can actually be expanded to the right amount because if it doesn't if I don't reach the bleed limit when I supply the files and if I don't reach the dpi limit when I supply the files the printer will not accept it, so that's why bleed is important and when you're working with a lot of artists who are just plain old artists and don't deal with the design things at all, they don't really understand what bleed means, so just make sure that when you're telling your artist your canvas size that you take the initiative and you don't say at plus bleed or something like that, just tell them it's six it's actually in this case um 8.625 canvas not 8.5 and that way you're taking control of it you're making sure you're getting that image with bleed and giving your designer what they actually need to be able to make your book absolutely printable and that's what you need to know about bleed so make sure you check in for more of Old Mate Media's indie developer guides and good luck.

Read the full guide on bleed here

Where to next

We have a bunch of free indie author guides to help you on your self-publishing journey. You can find them all here. Let us know what other topics you would like us to cover by getting in contact with us at the bottom of this page. If you are looking to self-publish and have any questions, get in contact with us or book in for a free call to discuss your book.

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