Trim, Bleed and All That Jazz

One of the trickiest things about designing for print is understanding trim size and all things related to it.

After the printed pages come off our presses and are bound together, they need to be “trimmed” so that each page is exactly the same size.  This ensures each page in your publication is even, giving it that professional look.

While we always try to trim as accurately as possible, it’s natural for the trim line to vary slightly in one direction or the other, which is why we recommend that you include a “bleed” and work within a “safe zone” when you design your PDF.


To ensure that no important parts of the page are cut off in the trimming process a “bleed” area is defined.  The “bleed” extends beyond the “trim” for when you want a photo or color to extend to the edge of the page.  For Standard, Digest, and Digest Landscape publications, the bleed is the top 0.125 inches, the bottom 0.125 inches, and the outside 0.25 inches of your PDF. For Flyer publications, the bleed is the 0.125 inches on all sides of the 8.5″ x 11″ PDF.

The reason to include a bleed in print files is to ensure that images you want to go to the edge of the page always do so, regardless of how exact the trim is.  If an image is cropped at the 8.25” x 10.75” trim edge on a Standard size publications, as shown in the below diagram on the left, and the print is trimmed slightly wider, then there will be a white bar between the printed image and the edge of the page.  If the image is extended all the way to the 8.5” x 11” PDF edge instead, filling the bleed area as shown in the below diagram on the right, then the printed image will go all the way to the edge of the page regardless of where the actual trim occurs.

Safe Zone

The “safe zone” is the area inside the trim line where your text and graphics are not at risk of being cut off or lost into the binding in the final print, regardless of any variation in the trim.  For MagCloud publications this area is 0.25 inches within all sides of the trim edge.

Any content that you want to appear completely within the final printed publication should be kept inside the safe zone.  Placing content too close to the top, bottom or outside edge of the PDF could result in that content being cut off during trimming.  This is something to keep in mind when adding page numbers to your publication, as those tend to be placed closer to the page edge.  Similarly, placing content too close to the inside edge of the PDF could result in that content being lost into the binding if your publication is perfect bound.  By keeping your content within the safe zone, you ensure that it will appear completely in the final print and digital copies of your publication.

For more information and step-by-step instructions to set up your PDF with the bleed and safe zone in mind be sure to check out our Getting Started page.

Next up in the MagCloud Design series: The Importance of Layouts and Templates

Have a Question? We Have Answers!

We’ve expanded our Help section adding more detailed instructions and FAQs to make publishing on MagCloud a little easier.

Our new How to Publish page offers diagrams and PDF specs to guide you through each stage of the MagCloud Publish process. In our new PDF Guides section you can select step-by step instructions for a variety of design and publishing applications such as Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher and Apple Pages to help you create and export a MagCloud-ready PDF. You can also download a PDF of those instructions directly from the PDF Guides page, or order a print copy as a way to see MagCloud’s print and digital quality and have the information at hand while you create your PDF.

If you run into any questions, search for answers on the new Ask MagCloud page. We’ve expanded our frequently asked questions and made them searchable to help you find the answers you need as quickly as possible. If the answer you’re looking for can’t be found on the site, you can use our new Contact Us page to send the MagCloud support team all the necessary information up front so they can get you back on the path to publishing even faster.

We are also making it easier to keep up-to-date with new features and promotions via our About section. This is where you can find out about the latest website enhancements, printing options, calculate what it will cost to print and ship your order, or find out more about MagCloud’s digital distribution options.

We hope these new resources will make publishing through MagCloud even easier.

Let us know what you think!

More Ways to Enjoy MagCloud Magazines

Enjoy MagCloud magazines when and where you want with new digital distribution options.

You can now enjoy your favorite MagCloud magazines on a PC, Mac, WebOS, iOS, Android or any device that supports PDF. So as a MagCloud publisher there’s nothing for you to do except choose which of your magazines you want to offer as digital issues; we will use the same PDF you upload for print to create this new digital product, so very simple and easy. For MagCloud readers this means choice and simplicity, allowing you to purchase once and read on any device at anytime.

Digital issues are a great way for more readers to discover and consume all of the great magazine content available through MagCloud, and for publishers to add additional value and exposure to their professional quality print editions.

Publishers will now have the option to charge for digital issues of their magazine. When publishers opt-in to digital distribution they can now choose to make their digital issues free or paid. Publishers are also given the option to bundle a free digital issue with a paid print order, allowing them to provide their readers with a convenient print+digital bundle.

We are also working on an optimized magazine viewing experience for iPad and other platforms in the future.

The new digital distribution features offers readers more choice with a simple and elegant purchase experience, and for publishers all it takes is a few mouse clicks to start offering your magazines in both print and digital formats.

Publishers, find out how to opt in to digital distribution or read our FAQ for more background on these great new features.

QUICK TRICK: PDF Export Presets for Adobe InDesign

Exporting to a PDF seems like it should be the easiest part of the design process, but one little checked-box can throw off your PDF settings, and cause a lot of frustration.

To solve the problem I have created a PDF preset file for InDesign that you can quickly download and use every time you want to publish to MagCloud.

The process is very simple, and it works for a Mac or PC.
Just follow these four steps.


1. DOWNLOAD the MagCloud PDF Export Job Options file (note you may need to ctrl+click or right click and save this file)

2. Install the Preset:
Within InDesign, go to FILE>> Adobe PDF Presets>> Define >> “Load” >> Find and Select the file you downloaded called “MagCloud_PDF_Export” >> Click “Done.”

3. To use these imported settings, with your file open in InDesign, Select FILE >> PDF Presets >> “Adobe PDF Preset for MagCloud”

4. Name and Save your PDF and you are ready to publish!

*Note, the preset will only work properly if you have set your document up perfectly from the start. To be sure you have your document settings adjusted properly, go to the InDesign Help Section on MagCloud.