How to Set up Bleeds on a Microsoft Publisher Document for Professional Printing

Here’s the situation: Your home computer or office does not have professional graphic design software, and you wouldn’t know how to use it if you had it. So, you’re taking the path of least resistance and using Microsoft Publisher to create your marketing materials. You’ve completed your design and are hurriedly sending it off to your printer, who informs you that your design needs “bleed”. With pictures of battlefield injuries in your head, you tell your printer “Yes, of course, bleed.”

What is Bleed?

Publisher Document with Bleed and Crop MarksSimply put, bleed is a slight overlap or extension of the printed area added beyond the borders of a printed page to make sure graphics or solid colors go right to the edge after trimming. If you design the page without blocks of color, photos or graphics going right to the edge of the page, you don’t need bleed. But if you do, and you don’t want a slight error to cause the cutter to miss the edge and leave white around the edges, you’ll want bleed.

Do You Need Bleed?

Most home and office printers cannot print to the edge and will leave a white margin, cutting into your design. If this is good enough for your purposes, read no further as you do not need to add bleed to your design. For borderless, professional printing, bleed is required by most commercial printers, and is recommended for the highest quality print output.

Create a Bleed in a Microsoft Publisher 2010 Document

Before you start adding bleed to your design, be sure you do not have important design elements or text boxes closer than 1/8 inch to the inside edge of your document. Staying within this safe zone ensures your design will not cut off important content after printing and trimming.

To ‘fake’ a bleed in Publisher you will need to change the paper size, adjust the graphics and then return the document to the original size before creating a PDF or sending your .pub file to the printer.

Document size setup

Start by opening the Page Setup dialog box. Go to Page Design > Size > Page Setup. Under Page, enter the dimensions required for your document. You need to add 1/8 inch (.125″) of bleed on all four sides of your document. This will add an additional 1/4 inch to both the width and the height of your document. For example, if your document is 8.5″ x 11″, your new document size will be 8.75″ x 11.25″.

Microsoft Publisher Page Setup Document Size

Adjust pictures and graphics

Next, adjust the graphics to the edge of the document. You may scale vector objects, but be sure you do not distort photographs. Use the crop tool where possible. Grouping graphic elements will allow you to move elements together and make the adjustments quicker.

Once you have adjusted your design, change your page size back to 8.5″ x 11″. The graphics touching the edge will then extend beyond your publication page by 1/8 inch.

Print setup with crops and bleed

If you would like to print your design with bleed, follow the setup instructions below. Remember that you must print your document on a larger sheet of paper to allow for your bleed and crop marks.

Microsoft Publisher Print Setup Dialog Box Crop Marks

  1. On the File menu, click Print, and then select a Printer.
  2. Click Advanced Output Settings, and then click the Marks and Bleeds tab.
  3. Select the Crop marks and Allow bleeds check box, and then click OK.
  4. After you print, trim the paper to the size of the publication by using the crop marks as your guides.

Crops and Bleed Setup for Publisher 2007

Watch a video tutorial about setting up bleeds and printing with crop marks in Microsoft Publisher 2007

Bleeds in Microsoft Word documents

While it is possible to print a Microsoft Word document with bleed, the process is tedious and not recommended. You can follow the steps above to create a document size large enough to accommodate the bleed, however Word does not allow your document to extend past the document size and does not offer a way to include crop marks. Check with your printer for their specifications and requirements if you choose to use Word. If your printer is not able to help, try Printingforless.com. They will work with you to get your design professionally printed.

Download Microsoft Publisher Templates

StockLayouts offers professional print templates which are designed to allow bleeds and are suitable for commercial printing.

There are 13 comments

  1. LJ

    The most straightforward/understandable instruction on Bleeds in MS Publisher I’ve seen yet. You saved my print job and at the eleventh hour when the printer was on hold. Thanks so much for making it available.

  2. Melissa Rogers

    You have covered minutest of the details for Bleed in Microsoft. It really helped in understanding the concept clearly. I had no idea that 1/8 has to be left at the inside edge. Really great article.

  3. Leslie

    I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I followed your instructions but I only get crop marks not bleed marks. I was able to do it in the older version of Publisher and now I can’t anymore. Very frustrating.

  4. Joanna

    Hi Leslie. The bleed is created by manually adjusting the graphics as described in the ‘Create bleed’ section of the blog post. Unfortunately there isn’t a setting to add the bleed. You can then create crop marks on the document after you have finished adjusting the design.

  5. Joanna

    Anna, if you are using a more recent version of Publisher you can find the option to include crop marks by navigating to Print > Print One Sided > Printer Setup Wizard. In the wizard you can select the Marks & Bleed tab to view and change the options. As mentioned in the article, remember to select a paper size larger than your document so there is room for the bleed and crop marks to appear on the page.

  6. jennifer juarez

    I followed the instructions to change the page to add 1/8″, stretch everything to fit, then resize back down to original page size. White borders are still printing. I have margins set at 0″ and printer page size matches document page size. Any suggestions?

  7. Rants and Raves Too

    I tried adding 1/8″ to my page size, stretching images, text as needed to fit new size, then resetting page size back to the original. It’s still printing a white border and I can’t find any actual ‘bleed’ settings. The margins are 0″ and the printer page size matches the document page size. Any thoughts or suggestions?

  8. Tami

    You’ll need to select a printer that supports a page size larger than the original page size. For example, if the finished trimmed size of your document is 8.5″x11″ (Letter), you’ll want to select a page size of 11″x17″ (Tabloid) so you can print the bleed and the crop marks. If your document size is 11″x17″, you’ll need to select a printer that supports a page size of 12″x18″ (Tabloid Extra). Some Postscript printers will allow you to set up custom page sizes. If you don’t have a printer that supports larger page sizes, you can take the file to a local printer for output.

    Here are a couple other resources on the Microsoft website that might help:
    Show and print crop marks
    Add and print crop marks

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