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What Self-Published Authors Need to Know About Book Cutting Tolerance

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

by Vince Pannullo /

book cutting tolerance

Cutting Tolerance, Page Bleed, Proofing, and Printing

Book cutting tolerance and page bleed are two important concepts to understand when it comes to print books.

It is often thought that authors do not have to worry about cutting tolerance and page bleed because their book designer and book printer will handle that for them. This is true in most cases, but self-published, independent authors may need to pay attention to these concepts during the editing and proofreading processes, especially when their print book.

What is Cutting Tolerance?

Cutting tolerance is the slight variation that occurs when printing projects are cut down to size. It is important to be aware of cutting tolerance when self-publishing your book, so that you can avoid having important elements of your book trimmed off.

Cutting tolerance can vary depending on the printer. At SelfPublishingUS we manage this task when taking the book design to print. We strive to produce ninety-nine percent perfect products. However, as with any mechanical process, some tolerances should be taken into account. Our trimming tolerance is 1/8" in either direction. For example, the cutting tolerance is the slight variations that occur when printing projects are cut down to size.

Also, anything that comes within 1/8" of the edge of the cut line could potentially be cut off. For example, text or other elements that you want to ensure are not trimmed away must be placed more than 1/2" away from the expected edge of the design, for trimmed purposes.

In the case of eBooks, cutting tolerance is not an issue, as eBooks are not physically trimmed.

Page Bleed in Print and eBooks

Page bleed is an area of the page that extends beyond the final trim size. This is done to ensure that no important elements of the page are trimmed off, such as images or text. The amount of page bleed that is required will vary depending on the printer and the type of book.

In eBooks, page bleed can help to prevent important elements of the eBook from being cut off when it is displayed on different book reading devices (phone, tablet, book readers).

Book Design for Print and eBooks and the Editing process

Issues can arise if a file that was designed for print is later used for an eBook without having any editing or proofreading. Most eBook readers support the same types of files used for print; however, proofreading is always recommended.

When SelfPublishingUS designs a book, we:

  • Minimize cutting tolerance by using high-quality printing files in the book design process and working closely with printer

  • Use a bleed. A bleed is an area of your design that extends beyond the final trim size. This will help to ensure that no important elements are trimmed off

  • Offer a service to convert a print book file into one appropriate for eBooks

Proofreading Again and Again

During the book design process sometimes authors move, add, or remove text or elements of their book. It can be easy to miss a detail that impacts the overall book print or eBook display. Proofreading and double-checking is key to ensure that the book looks beautiful when bound or presented on eBook reader devices.


Cutting tolerance is an important consideration for self-published authors. By following the tips above, you can help to minimize cutting tolerance and ensure that your book looks its best.

Contact SelfPublishingUS for Editing, Design, and Printing

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