question for someone extremely knowledgeable about how lulu prints bleeds

i'm trying to print a 224-page A5 book with full bleeds throughout. every page of the book is an image. i've followed lulu's specs to the letter on how to submit a pdf made in indesign -- embedded images, 0.125" bleeds on all sides. but when lulu sends me back their print-ready proof pdf, i see two errors:

1. the bleeding image areas on the *inner edges* are printing on the facing pages.

2. in the pdf lulu sends back to me, there is a very thin white margin around each page of the sized document, even though they're supposed to be full bleeds.

i tried to fix the first error by trimming the inside edge of the bleeds to 0", since the gutter probably doesn't need a bleed anyway. but when i submitted this revised pdf, lulu rejected it on the grounds that the new page size isn't correct (as trimming the inside-edge bleeds make the page 5.92'' wide instead of 6.08" wide. which, duh. but i can't get an answer back from customer service about how they'll accept this.)

and i did download and apply lulu's full-bleed job options presets; however, they don't seem to be fully compatible with indesign cs6 -- i got error messages that wouldn't allow me to export, so i had to change the compatibility settings to comply with an earlier pdf version. that took away the error messages but who knows how it changes how the document prints; i can find no information about this in the tutorials or from lulu's customer-service labyrinth.

thanks for anyone who has concrete answers to this problem! and yes, i've read all the tutorials and forum questions about bleeds several times; please don't link them to me again, like lulu's customer-service rep has been doing to me for the last three weeks ha. lulu seems to be sorely due for an improvement of their bleed game -- or at least an update of their tutorials to explain why they can't handle bleeds.



  • Hi Gabby,
    I'm sorry to hear about the trouble with our bleed settings.
    Since I'm not familiar with your support case, I'm going to lay out a few 'basic' pieces of information. So I apologize if it's repeating, but I want to make sure we're on the same page with that info first.
    1. Lulu prints everything in single pages. We support two page spreads, but the pages are all printed individually. This means that for all pages, the bleed must be on all four sides.
    2. 0.125" is the proper measurement for bleed. The overall page size should increase by 0.25". The A5 with bleed template I have is 6.08" x 8.51", so your overall document size should be about that.
    3. Align pages so that the first page of the file and all following odd pages are on the right and all even pages are on the left. This is critical for aligning two page spreads correctly.

    For your specific case, if you're seeing a white boarder after uploading, that almost always means our system is not detecting the correct full bleed page size. What our system does in this case is resize the file to the finish size, then add the 0.125" bleed margin (that white border).

    I wasn't aware of our Job Options causing an error with CS6. I'll note that and ask internally for it to be tested.
  • thanks for your reply paul!

    1. the pdf i uploaded was indeed uploaded as single pages, not facing pages. however the pdf i got back from lulu for approval still showed overlap from the inside bleed edges on adjacent pages.

    2. i did indeed format the pages including the bleed at 6.08" x 8.51" -- but it seemed like the 0.125" bleed on the inside edge was what was causing the print overlap. (i could try uploading again at 6.08" width, but it'd be nice to have someone explain to me how lulu is going to ensure there won't be facing-page overlap in the final printed book.)

    3. my file does indeed have all odd pages on the right-hand side.

    now about the white border (which is really the main problem, since i could always jury-rig the facing-page overlap problem by deleting the image area on the inside bleed area):

    the white border lulu created around my pages looks thinner than 0.125". it looks like it must be some kind of formatting error that happens when lulu processes my pdf. maybe it's caused by formatting an A5 page in inches? i'm not sure why lulu insists on this, since the format is metric, but maybe that's to blame? (i tried formatting in inches to the third decimal place to make the transition as accurate as possible, but indesign automatically shortens all measurements to 2 decimal places.)

    please let me know if there's anything more i can do to get this fixed -- or if there's a way to talk about this with someone knowledgeable (ie, not lulu's customer support, ha) in a way where they can look at my files.

  • For the overlapping pages, that would definitely require someone here looking at the file or images of the printed book (if you've ordered a copy) and offering more informed opinion than I'm capable of.
    One thing that is worth checking: when you upload the PDF and run the converter, do you see a notification that we resized the file? You shouldn't, as it's uploading at the full bleed size, but if you do, that would mean either our system is seeing the file as the wrong size or the sizing is off in some way.
    I'll touch base with our support team and see if we can get someone with more InDesign/PDF creation knowledge to look at this with you.
  • hang on -- what you said here worries me:

    "What our system does in this case is resize the file to the finish size, then add the 0.125" bleed margin (that white border)."

    if this is what you do for bleeds, you're defeating the whole purpose of a bleed. the only way a bleed can work is if you print the *image*, not just the page, at a larger size than the print size, and *then* cut the page down to size, *after* printing. that is the only way to guarantee that there is no space between the image and the edge of the page. if you're deleting the image area in the bleed zone before printing it, you are not printing bleeds -- you're just needlessly cutting off white space around the pages.

    i'm wondering if lulu just can't do bleeds? if that's so i wish y'all'd save us poor fools the time & heartbreak and just not offer them as part of your service

  • We only resize if our system detects a size other than the full bleed size. So if you upload a file at 6.08" x 8.51", we won't do anything to the page size. If you upload a file at 6.08" x 8.49", we'll resize it to the final A5 size, then add the bleed margin. We have to do this so we can accommodate users uploading non-bleed files.
    Our system absolutely can handle files with bleed, we've got numerous creators who make photo book, look books, product catalogues, and magazines in full bleed regularly.
    My feeling is that there is something happening when we process your file that's causing an issue. I've sent a message to our support team, so hopefully we'll be able to get one of our InDesign-skilled folks to help with the overlap.
  • ok looking forward to hearing from them
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