When you have a document or book professionally printed, it is important to set up bleed if any element anywhere in your file extends to the end of the page. If you aren’t sure what bleed is, scroll to the bottom and watch that video first.

In this tutorial I am going to show you how you can set up a document for a book in Affinity Publisher with bleed. And then we’re going to look at some ways that you can add bleed and modify bleed once you’ve got your document started.

Here’s the rest of the transcript if you prefer to read:

So let’s start with the new document. I’m going to go to file and new. 

And in this window that pops up, let’s make a six by nine book.

And I’m going to leave it at 300 DPI. My document units are going to be in inches. That’s just me. I am going to put facing pages on since I’m making this as a book.

And then scrolling down here, here’s where we can set our bleed. So for KDP we need to have bleed along the outer side,  the top and the bottom. This lets us change everything in all of the boxes at same time, it links them all together. Like a chain link. It looks a bit like a chain. So I have this turned on right now. I can pick any box. And change this number and it will change all of them. 

I’m going to change this back to .125. If you are publishing on Kindle, that is going to be the bleed that you will want to set.

Now we don’t need it in our inner margin. So I’m going to unclick this little chain. And go just here to the inner and just set that to zero. And say, Create. So it always just creates one page for you.

I’m going to add two more pages so that we can see a full spread here. So now you can see we’ve got our two, six by nine pages and we’ve got .125 inch bleed all the way around the outside perimeter of that. So that’s setting it up at first.

So let’s look at a situation where you’ve already got your document started, and now you’ve decided to place something that’s going to go to the edge of the page. You weren’t originally planning that, but now you are finding yourself doing that and you need to make a change so that you’ve got bleed. 

So we can go with the move tool on, you’ll see a button for Documents Set up. You can also get to this from File, Document Set up. Either way works.

And that brings you a little pop-up. And you’ll have some different tabs here. And one of them is bleed. And so you can see now we’ve got those same settings. We’ve got the option to link them or not link them. And we can make our modifications here and add bleed after the fact.

Also, I’ve got a black screen and it’s defaulting for me to a purple colored bleed. What if I wanted to see that a little bit better, more contrast. While I’m in the same window, I can click on this color and I can change it to whatever I want here. 

So let’s say I want to make it a bright yellow. Now I can see my bleed much more easily because it stands out against my black background.

So that is adding bleed or changing bleed after you’ve got your document created. So what if I want to toggle on and off these bleed lines? Or what if I’ve set bleed, but I’m not seeing it? 

So you can go up to View and down here, there’s a little option to Show Bleed. If I have it unchecked my bleed lines go away. And when I want to see them again. I can turn them back on.

So that is another way that you can see your bleed guides or hide them. All right. So we learned three things.

We learned how to set bleed when you are opening a new document. 

We learned how to change the color of your bleed lines as well as make changes once your document is already started.

And we learned how to toggle the bleed lines off and on. I hope you found this helpful.

What is Bleed Anyways?

When publishing a print book on KDP or any platform, you need to be aware of when you need to use bleed and when you don’t. So bleed is something that gives you a margin of error. When you have elements on your page that go to the edge of the page.

When all the elements are within the margin area, you do not need to set up your file with bleed. But, if any text or images goes all the way to the edge of the page then we want to extend it a little bit past the edge of the page.

Imaging that if someone were to take a paper cutter or let’s just say scissors, and were to cut this and kind of do an uneven job you wouldn’t lose a part of the picture that you don’t want to lose. And also you wouldn’t have any awkward white spaces here when you really wanted the image to go all the way to the edge. 

Any time that any element (text, image, etc.) goes to the edge of the page anywhere in your document you should use bleed.

So that is what bleed is. When you’re setting it up what you need to do is added it in all around the perimeter of your document.

We don’t need to worry about bleed along the interior margin. That is taken care of by how big we make the margin in the middle called our gutter margin.

So we need to have bleed along the top edge, the bottom edge and the left and right side of a two page spread.

If you’re looking at things in terms of one single page, or maybe using a software for your books that doesn’t have two page spreads like this, then you would only be adding bleed on one side of your document. So to repeat that, if you are designing one page at a time, instead of in two page spreads, you would only add bleed to either your right side or your left side. 

So, what this looks like in practice is if we have a six by nine book, we are going to add .125 inches to the top and to the bottom. So a nine inch high book would therefore be 9.5 inches.

And then we are going to add bleed to the left and right but not to the inside. And so we’ve got a six inch page, a six inch page. That’s 12. 

And then we’ve got .125 on either side of that. So that is what bleed is and how to set it up for KDP. Again, you, only need to use this, if anything extends to the edge of the page of your layout. Otherwise, you can choose to select it with no bleed.